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Santa Monica College Planetarium Offers Star Guide
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By Lookout Staff

April 20, 2016 -- Santa Monica is home to plenty of Hollywood stars. But if you’re willing to gaze into the night skies, instead of at the city’s celebrity-studded sidewalks, Santa Monica College’s planetarium can guide you to the best star parties in town for the summer.

Next month, SMC’s John Drescher Planetarium is hosting a series of Friday night events, including one devoted to finding all the best parties for star gazing, others offering guest lectures and its popular Night Sky Show, officials said.

It all starts on May 6, with a “Jupiter Update” by guest lecturer and astronomer Shelley R. Bonus. During the evening, Bonus will review what is known, and not known, so far about the biggest planet in the solar system. Jupiter’s high position in the sky during early May makes it a particularly opportune time for observation, said SMC spokesperson Grace Smith.

Photo Credit: Santa Monica College
Aside from its beauty and mysteries, Jupiter is known for its sheer size – or more mass than the total of all else orbiting the Sun.

Jupiter is one of five planets visible to the naked eye from Earth, and only the Sun, Moon and Venus are brighter.

Bonus will return on May 13 with a talk on Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun and known for its 62 moons. The most distant planet that can be seen with the naked eye, Saturn is also the fifth brightest object in the solar system and easily studied with binoculars or a small telescope.

A versatile performer, writer, and photographer, Bonus’ background ranges from work with Lily Tomlin and Melvin Van Peebles. She teaches astronomy for the ULCA Extension Program and is popular with audiences for her enthusiasm, sense of humor and rare talent for bringing the remote mysteries of the night skies to life.

The following Friday features the “Summer Star Party Planner.” The May 20 event guide guests on where and when to find “star parties” -- or gatherings for amateur astronomers to observe the evening skies.

Guests will told what to bring to the parties, and can sign for one scheduled to be offered by a host.

All of the events start at 8 p.m. and are preceded by the planetarium’s Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., which offers the latest developments in astronomy and space exploration and a family-friendly “tour” of the constellations.

The planetarium is on SMC’s Main Campus in Drescher Hall, Room 223. Admission to a single show or lecture is $6 ($5 for seniors ages 60 or older and children ages 12 and under). Discounts are also available for double-bills of the Night Sky Show and that evening’s scheduled event of $11 ($9 seniors and children).

More information is available at or by calling (310) 434-3005.

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