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SMC Planetarium Explores the Fall Equinox and NASA's return to the Moon

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By Lookout Staff

August 21, 2020 -- Equinoxes and solstices and NASA's long-awaited return to the moon will be the subject of two virtual shows presented by Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium next month.

The September lineup kicks off Friday September 11 with “Project Artemis Update,” a look at the Trump administration's plans to return a crew to the lunar surface by 2024..

"With the massive SLS booster and Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle moving toward a first uncrewed test flight around the Moon in 2021, NASA is preparing for a long-awaited return to the Moon," show organizers said.

The mission includes the first woman and the next man to land on the moon and comes more than half a century after Apollo 17 made the last manned lunar landing on December 11, 1972.

The mission will use "innovative new technologies and systems to explore more of the Moon than ever before," NASA officials said.

The show, presented by Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon and Associate Lecturer Sarah Vincent, will be repeated September 25.

On Friday, September 18 the planetarium presents “TILT! Equinoxes and Solstices Explained.”

The show, presented by Mahon, comes two days before the Autumnal Equinox on September 20, one of two days in the year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length.

"Most city dwellers are only vaguely aware of what the equinoxes and solstices actually are," organizers.

"The show will try to remedy this disconnect from the natural world, as well as dispel some myths, like the egg-standing-on-end story."

The evening shows are at 8 p.m. and are preceded by a streamlined, virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space exploration and the chance to ask astronomy-related questions.

Currently, the planetarium is using the Zoom platform. To attend the shows, the Zoom software version 5.0 or higher must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

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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