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Santa Monica College Planetarium Looks Back at Apollo 10 "Dress Rehearsal"

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

April 15, 2019 -- Less than two months before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on July 21, 1969, Charlie Brown and Snoopy came within 10 miles of the lunar surface carrying three astronauts.

The Apollo 11 mission that took the trio on a test run aboard lunar and service modules named after the Peanuts characters will be the subject of a show next month at Santa Monica College's John Drescher Planetarium.

Apollo 10 Lunar module

“Apollo 10 -- The Dress Rehearsal,” which will be presented May 17 and 31, looks back at the flight that set the record for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle -- 24,791 mph.

The record was set on the spacecraft's return from an eight day mission that took the astronauts to the point where the powered descent for an actual landing was set to begin.

(Left) Apollo 10's Lunar Module, Snoopy, approaches the command and service module Charlie Brown for redocking

Although the crew composed of Commander Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan and John. W. Young did not achieve the legendary status of their successors, they were the only other Apollo crew experienced in spaceflight.

The Planetarium lays the groundwork on May 10 with the special observing event “The Crescent Moon and a Famous Double Star.”

The show offers "an opportunity to view the Moon, the landing sites of the first and last Apollo landings, and its dramatically lit crater Theophilus."

The show also allows participants to gaze at the famous visual binary of Mizar and Alcor, the middle stars in the handle of the Big Dipper.

A variety of telescopes will be used with guidance from the planetarium’s director, organizers said. If clouds intervene, the program will stay in the planetarium with high-resolution images.

Next month's line-up kicks off May 3 with “Summer Star Party Planner,” a practical guide to “star parties,” which are gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky.

The presentation explains "when to go, where to go -- from local urban and suburban locations to high mountains and deserts -- and what to bring to be a welcome star party visitor and participant," 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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