Planetarium has campus seeing stars
For astronomy students and those interested in the cosmos, a series titled "Winter Hexagons, Galaxies & Equinoxes" will be presented at the John Drescher Planetarium on every Friday night in March. The first show last Friday, called "A Walk Around the Winter Hexagon" was an educational show facilitated by Jim Mahon.
Many inquisitive stargazers sat outside the planetarium doors Friday night, waiting patiently to be ushered into the dome-like room.
As the conventional lights dimmed last Friday, the ceiling illuminated with vibrant color. Mahon began to describe what would be the "star" of the show that night, the Winter Hexagon. The Winter Hexagon is a large asterism in the sky made up of the stars Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux/Castor, Procyon, and Sirius.
After a rundown of this star set, Mahon led the group outside and was welcomed by a clear night sky. Mahon was equipped with a large green laser that blasted a thick ray of light, pinpointing each star. He directed this laser over the sky with ease, pointing out and describing various stars and constellations.
According to Mahon, the previous planetarium caretaker, Jon Hobbs, passed away from cancer and the school has yet to fully replace him.
Mahon has been campaigning to revive the planetarium to its once highly active state for two main reasons: "A. To do some maintenance on the system and B. to promote this place so we can bring in a feature here that paves the way."
As the green beam moved steadily throughout the sky, Mahon explained the wonders of being an astronomer. "You predict an event in the sky and it occurs as predicted, you are suddenly special. People start asking about the stock market."
Other shows in the series continue every Friday in March at 8p.m. and are preceded by "The Night Sky Show" at 7p.m. each week.
"Galaxies, Galaxies Everywhere" will run March 11 and 18, "TILT! Equinoxes and Solstices Explained" is March 25. Tickets are $5 at the door and $9 to attend the 7 and 8p.m. shows. More information can be found on www.smc.edu/planetariumor by calling (310) 434-3000.