Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium resumes its Friday evening events in September 2022 with free, live virtual shows presented online at smc.edu/planetarium. This month’s friendly presentations will review developments in Mars exploration, preparations for the end of the two Voyagers’ missions, and the DART experiment to redirect an asteroid’s orbit. An informative talk will also be presented on how to use binoculars to explore the night sky.

The Friday evening shows are at 8 p.m. and are preceded by a streamlined virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions.

Planetarium lecturers are currently using the Zoom platform to present shows while the actual on-campus planetarium remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To attend the shows, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at zoom.com.

The September 2022 shows are:

• Friday, September 9, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): Mars Exploration Update — Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. Tonight’s show presents an overview of the current and near-future missions to Mars. With multiple surface missions in operation and one (INSIGHT) moving into end-of-mission status, plus a small international fleet of orbiters, the Red Planet remains an object of intense scrutiny, with early steps for a Mars Sample Return Mission already well underway. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, September 16, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): Voyagers’ End — Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent. As NASA prepares for the end of the Voyagers’ mission, tonight’s show looks back at the 45-year legacy of exploration by the twin crafts. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, September 23, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): DART Takes Aim — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission aims to deliberately bump Dimorphos, the smaller of a pair of asteroids, on September 26 to slightly deflect the asteroid’s orbit. Tonight’s show takes a look at this first small-scale demonstration of an active planetary defense technique as the time of impact nears. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

• Friday, September 30, at 8 p.m. (following The Night Sky Show at 7 p.m.): Backyard Observing: Binocular Highlights of the Autumn Sky — Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon. Tonight’s presentation explains how to use binoculars to enjoy the highlights of the autumn sky at a convenient hour, and enhance the experience by recognizing a few familiar bright stars. Topics covered include how to get oriented in the fall skies of Southern California, what the numbers printed on binoculars mean, and what some interesting targets are to look at and help friends and neighbors aim at with their own binoculars. If weather permits, guests will be ready to stroll outside for a little binocular observing right after the program. Free. Zoom at smc.edu/planetarium.

More information is available online at smc.edu/planetarium or by calling (310) 434-3005. All shows subject to change or cancellation without notice.

Submitted by Grace Smith