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SMC Planetarium Offers "Survival Guide" for Holiday Telescope Shoppers

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By Lookout Staff

October 25, 2021 -- You're giving that budding astronomer a telescope for the holidays: Do you go for the one with a 114mm or 70mm aperture? The German equatorial mount or the Alt-az mount?

Santa Monica College's (SMC) John Drescher Planetarium will help demystify the shopping process when it presents the “Holiday Telescope Buyer Survival Guide” next month.

It's one of the free, live virtual shows that take place Fridays at 8 p.m. preceded by a streamlined, virtual digest of the popular Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. that offers the latest news in astronomy and space exploration.

Presented by Senior Lecturer Jim Mahon on Friday, November 5, as well as at a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, the survival guide will help telescope shoppers grapple with "a bewildering array of choices and a whole new jargon," event organizers said.

"This program -- presented in time to shop before the good suppliers sell out of the best starter instruments -- will demystify the world of telescopes and provide some concrete examples and recommendations for first-time telescope shoppers," organizers said.

On Friday, November 12, Assistant Lecturer Sarah Vincent presents “NASA Spinoffs,” a review of "how America’s space program and its space technology have changed the lives of almost every human on Earth."

On Friday, November 19, Mahon presents “Artemis 1 Preview,” a look at the scheduled lauch in December of the SLS booster and Orion spacecraft "on an uncrewed test flight into lunar orbit and back to Earth."

The show presents "an update on the long-delayed first flight of the system to send humans back to the Moon -- and beyond."

The show will be repeated December 3.

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

"The shows include the chance to chat with the planetarium lecturers and ask questions related to astronomy and space exploration," planetarium officials said.

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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