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Jupiter, Rocketry and DIY Space Images at the SMC Planetarium

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By Lookout Staff

September 19, 2023 -- Upcoming shows at the Santa Monica College (SMC) planetarium will run the gamut -- from Galileo’s first fuzzy views of Jupiter's moons to extremely high resolution images of the universe.

Shows at the John Drescher Planetarium also include a look at DIY Space Images, the Lunar Lander Peregrine 1 and a history of rocketry, event organizers said.

The free virtual shows on Fridays at 8 p.m. are preceded by a streamlined, virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. that offers the latest news in astronomy and space exploration.

The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions, organizers said.

On Friday, September 29, Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon presents “Solar System Exploration Survey: Part 6: Jupiter,” an ongoing series on solar system exploration missions.

The show looks at Jupiter, "starting all the way back with Galileo’s first fuzzy views of the major moons of the planet in 1610."

On October 6, Mahon presents “The Vera C. Rubin Observatory,” a show that investigates the intricacies of "the 8-meter-class survey telescope and an ingenious machine for capturing a motion picture of our universe."

"When complete, the telescope will perform daily all-sky surveys at extremely high resolution, producing over 20 terabytes of data each night, and making data management as challenging as optical design and execution."

On October 13, lecturer Sarah Vincent presents “DIY Space Image Processing,” a show that offers a quick introduction to the world of space image processing.

"NASA has long invited the public to download and use NASA images to make space art," show organizers said. "Many Hubble, Juno, and JWST image files — most of them free — are available for the public to use."

On Friday, October 20, Mahon presents “Peregrine: A New Lunar Lander from a New Program on a New Booster,” a discussion of the Astrobotic Peregrine 1, the first lunar lander being flown under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

"Now scheduled to launch to the lunar surface in late 2023 on the inaugural flight of the new Vulcan booster, Peregrine is designed to prepare for human return to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program to explore Earth’s nearest neighbor."

Next month's lineup concludes on October 27 with “A Short History of Rocketry, Part 1,” a show presented by Mahon that offers "a capsule history of the diverse forms the rocket has taken and the visionaries who foresaw its importance."

"Despite many alternative concepts, chemical rockets are still how humans get payloads (including themselves) into space," organizers said.

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

"The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions related to astronomy and space exploration," planetarium officials said.

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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