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SMC Planetarium Looks at Lunar Lander and China Space Program

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By Lookout Staff

February 1, 2023 -- The Santa Monica College (SMC) John Drescher Planetarium will train its sights on the moon and Mercury during a series of free, live virtual shows this month.

The shows -- which take place on Friday nights at 8 p.m., following The Night Sky Show at 7 -- offer a chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions.

This month marks the launch of "Solar System Exploration Survey," a new planetarium series about the missions to explore the members of the solar system.

February's lineup kicks of this Friday with "China’s Space Program” presented by Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon, who will review "the recent history and probable near-term goals of the overall Chinese space effort."

"China is expanding its Space Station and continuing a methodical program of lunar and planetary missions," event organizers said.

The series continues Friday, February 17, when Mahon presents "Peregrine: A New Lunar Lander from a New Program on a New Booster,” which takes a look at NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions.

Hoping to launch next month, the Astrobotics Peregrine 1 is the first of the lunar probes being flown under the CLPS program "designed to prepare for human lunar return under NASA’s Artemis program.

This month's lineup wraps up Friday, February 24 with "Solar System Exploration Survey: 'Part 1: Mercury,'” presented by lecturer Sarah Vincent.

The show launches a new Drescher Planetarium series that "reviews the past, current, and future exploration missions to the members of the solar system, and explores the evolving understanding of Earth's neighborhood."

To attend the shows, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

More information is available online at or by calling 310-434-3005. Shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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