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Santa Monica College Planetarium Explores Tragic and Successful Space Missions  

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By Lookout Staff

January 25, 2017 -- A famous space mission that ended shortly after its launch and one that quietly endures on the surface of Mars are the subjects of feature shows at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium this month.

The February schedule, which also includes a feature show that looks at how celestial bodies are cataloged, take place on Fridays at 8 p.m.

The shows are preceded by “The Night Sky Show” at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, a family-friendly “tour” of the constellations, and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions, event organizers said. The price for the double bill is $11.

Next month's schedule kicks off February 3 with “Go at Throttleup -- The Loss of Challenger.” The show explores the January 28, 1986 fiery explosion of the space shuttle Challenger 73 seconds into its flight that took the lives of its seven-person crew.

The feature show "will review what happened and the lessons brought to light in the subsequent investigation," organizers said.
Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity

The series continues February 17 with a mission that has had a long-lived success. “The Little Rover That Did – Opportunity’s 13 Years on Mars” looks at the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity that landed on the red planet 13 years ago.

Artist's conception of rover on Mars (image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Cornell University, Maas Digital LLC)

The show "will review the hugely successful career of this durable little robot, and take a look at the state of Mars exploration," organizers said.

The February schedule concludes on February 24 with the feature show “Cataloging the Sky, which will look at how astronomers organize their finds using arcane designations like M31, NGC 4565 and B33.

"We will trace the development of the alphanumeric soup, and do our best to demystify the language," planetarium officials said.

The John Drescher Planetarium, which features a Digistar projection system, is located near the elevators on the second floor of Drescher Hall, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

Tickets are available at the door and cost $11 ($9 seniors and children) for the evening’s scheduled “double bill," or $6 ($5 seniors age 60 and older and children age 12 and under) for a single show or telescope-viewing session.

For more information call (310) 434-3005 or visit All shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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