Astronomy at College of San Mateo - Planetarium


"The Sky Tonight" Planetarium Show

During the regular Fall/Spring/Summer Semesters, Professor Stanford presents "The Sky Tonight" on the second Friday of every month, with two shows: at 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm in the CSM Planetarium. See the Event Calendar for specific dates. 

There are no tickets for our shows. The planetarium has 95 seats per show. We allow people to line up in front of the planetarium a half hour before each show, and we will the seats on a first come first serve basis. Children 5 years and older please. No reservations, holding seats, food, or drinks in the planetarium. Arrive early for the first show, it fills up quickly!

Shows begin on time, and doors are locked during the show.  No late entry.

For Friday night events (The Sky Tonight and SMCAS meetings/speakers), parking is FREE in Lots N, P, Q, R, and S.
No parking pass necessary.

The Sky Tonight Fall 2022 Schedule
Date Time Title
September 24th - Family Science Day 12pm - 5pm Capcom Go!
October 14th 6pm and 7pm Mayan Archaeoastrnomy*
December 9th 6pm and 7pm TBA
* - National Hispanic Heritage Month

For Family Science Week we will be providing matinée planetarium shows in honor of our schools centennial celebrations! These shows are for SMCCD students, faculity, and staff. These shows will be everyday the week of Sept 26th, and will start at 1:15 pm. On Wednesday Sept. 28th we will be showing Mayan Archaeoastronomy as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Special Matinee Shows for Family Science Week
September 26th - 30th @ 1:15 pm - 1:55 pm
Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Title Mayan Archaeoastronomy* Black Holes Symvisio on the Dome Incoming! Symvisio on the Dome
* - National Hispanic Heritage Month

SMCAS General Meeting and Guest Speaker

The San Mateo County Astronomical Society holds their monthly meeting and public talks on the first Friday of every month in the CSM planetarium. The meeting begins at 7 pm in the ISC, followed by a public talk around 8 pm in the planetarium. The general public is invited to this FREE event.

SMCAS's guest speaker talks are not just for astronomers, they're for everyone! Talks start roughly at 8 pm and typically last an hour, with a Q&A session immediately following the talk. Topics vary in range, from asteroids to black holes, gravitational waves, and new emerging technologies. All speakers are experts in their fields, condensing years of research, into hour long, publicly friendly talks. Join us for a night of learning and intrigue! Previous guest speakers include:

Dr. Pascal Lee

Dr. Pascal Lee

SETI/Mars Institute

Dr Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist with two non-profit research organizations, the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute. He is also director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) at NASA Ames Research Center. Pascal Lee is internationally recognized for his efforts to advance the human exploration of Mars. He has led, or participated in, the development of several new mission concepts to explore Mars and its moons, new spacesuit technologies for Moon and Mars exploration, and of pressurized vehicles for future human planetary exploration. Dr. Lee's latest talk at CSM included a previewing of his movie Passage to Mars.
Dr.Lynn Rothschild

Dr. Lynn Rothschild

NASA Ames Research Center

Dr. Lynn Rothschild is an evolutionary biologist known for her work on life in extreme environments. At NASA's Ames Research Center she leads a program in synthetic biology. Her research focuses on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both on Earth and beyond our planet's boundaries. She has been instrumental to the foundation of the field of astrobiology. Founding the Astrobiology Science Conference, co-editing the International Journal of Astrobiology, formally directing the Astrobiology Strategic Analysis and Support office, and has been a member of NASA's Astrobiology Institution since its inception. Dr. Rothschild's presentation at CSM was titled Are We Truly Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe.
Dr. Mandeep Gill

Dr. Mandeep Gill

Stanford University

Dr. Mandeep Gill is an observational cosmologist specializing in gravitational lensing and gravitational wave optical counterpart detection. He is the Outreach Coordinator at the Kalvi Institute of Particle Physics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and an astronomy instructor at Stanford University. Dr. Gills latest talk at CSM was The Thrill of Discovery! Seeing Gravitational Waves AND Light from a Neutron Star Collision.
For more information call Ed Pieret at (650) 862-9602 or visit the SMCAS website.

Project Star Gaze

Project Star Gaze
Professor Stanford showing spectra during Project Star Gaze.
We're proud to continue our popular "Project Star Gaze" program r kids and teachers, in the planetarium. These shows give school children an exciting introduction to astronomy. Designed primarily for kindergarten through 5th graders, "Project Star Gaze" at CSM, offers children and their teachers experience with real science during free field trips to the planetarium. Our astronomy faculty tailor the workshops to each age group. CSM's planetarium has served thousands of students and visitors since 1963.

Our facility is equipped with dual JVC 4K projectors and GOTO Chronos II opto-mechanical space simulator. The planetarium sea ts 95 visitors. "Project Star Gaze provides an exciting venue for students to be introduced to scientific methodology and its application to everyday life. Each session includes a planetarium star show, plus demonstrations of solar system basics and spectroscopy.

Recent studies recommend that elementary school children be exposed to dynamic, hands-on experiences with science. Early in their education, they need an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of science and the scientific method. This program also exposes elementary school children to a college environment, helping to encourage lifelong learning and kindle an early interest in pursuing higher education. "Project Star Gaze" also represents CSM's commitment to its community. Partners providing a variety of critical project resources include: The San Mateo County Community College Foundation, and the San Mateo County Astronomical Society, which meets monthly in the planetarium.

To schedule a free field trip, contact Professor Mohsen Janatpour at or call (650) 574-6272.