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Santa Monica College Planetarium to Celebrate Cassini's 'Bittersweet End'


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By Lookout Staff

September 5 2017 -- Hours after NASA’s Cassini mission makes its destructive dive into Saturn's crushing atmosphere on September 15, the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium will "celebrate the bittersweet end of an epic voyage of exploration."

“Hail and Farewell Cassini!” is the planetarium's second event this month celebrating the 13-year mission after it kicks off its Fall series September 8 with the “Solar System Exploration Review.”

Rendering of Cassini orbiting Saturn
Rendering of Cassini orbiting Saturn (Courtesy NASA)

"The end of the Cassini mission is an opportune time to review the state of humanity’s robotic solar system exploration efforts," planetarium officials said.

"Will we see more exploration missions from China and India? Will Mars exploration change to directly support eventual human missions to the Red Planet?"

The path for future missions to Mars has been paved by Cassini's 20-year mission to the ringed planet 2.2 billion miles from earth.

Since arriving in 2004, Cassini has orbited the ringed planet more than 200 times and transmitted more than 300,000 raw images of the planet, its moons and its rings, according to NASA.

It found that Saturn's moon Enceladus has a potentially habitable internal ocean and that Titan possibly possesses a primordial earth-like world. The mission also captured dramatic images of a huge storm.

Cassini has already started its final series of orbits and will make its final round on September 9 when it enters the outermost fringes of Saturn’s atmosphere.

On September 11, the mission will make its final flyby of the ringed planet's largest moon, Titan, which it has already flown by more than 100 times.

Slowed by the moon's gravitational perturbations, the spacecraft will slow down and reposition itself for its final descent. After taking its final images of Saturn on September 14, it will turn its antenna towards earth before making its suicidal decent the following day.

Also next month, the planetarium also will present “Solar Eclipse Observing Report” on September 22 and 29.

The presentation will a personal account of the eclipse and images, along with a "fascinating compilation of videos and still images from the eclipse as it moved across the Lower 48," organizers said.

The feature shows and a telescope viewing session take place at 8 p.m. and are preceded at 7 p.m. by “The Night Sky Show,” which offers "the latest news in astronomy and space exploration, a family-friendly 'tour' of the constellations and answers to astronomy-related questions.

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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