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Tessmann Planetarium proposed copy.jpg
Proposed look for the Tessmann Planetarium. Image courtesy of westbergwhite architecture.

Dec. 16, 2014
Planetarium Update
The exterior of the planetarium is coming along quite nicely. These images reveal the new look of the front, back (includes new bathroom on right side) and side facing the Russell Hall.  Compare them with the drawing above. Shouldn't be too long now....

front 12-15.jpg
back 12-15.jpg
side 12-15.jpg

Dec. 5, 2014
Orion Spacecraft Launch
Congratulations to NASA! They successfully launched and landed their new Orion spacecraft today. Orion may someday shuttle astronauts between Earth and Mars, and up to asteroids. The spacecraft splashed down perfectly on target in the Pacific this morning and is awaiting the recovery team. This is the beginning of a new era for NASA.

A link to Orion activities for kids (cut and paste into your browser):

Here's an image of Orion shortly after splashdown.


On the Surface of the Comet

Nov. 13, 2014
First image from the surface of the comet. Image courtesy of the ESA.

first surface image.jpg

Nov. 12, 2014
Update 4 11: a.m.

Philae is now out of touch with Rosetta as it circles around to the other side of the comet. Latest word is that Philae touched down once, bounced and turned about before touching down again. The harpoons may not have fired and it may not be anchored to the surface.
But Philae did land in the center of the projected landing zone.                         

Photos of the surface and more information will be forthcoming when the Rosetta again emerges from behind the comet and re-establishes the radio link with Philae several hours from now.

Update 3 
Photo taking during Philae's approach to the landing site.

philae approach.jpg

2   8:10 a.m.
Touchdown!!!! Philae has landed!!! Congratulations, ESA!

Update 1   7:55 a.m.
The Philae landing craft was successfully released this morning and is on its way to the comet. The Rosetta spacecraft captured this image of Philae after its release.


Nov. 12, 2014
It's finally here. History in the making as a spacecraft is scheduled to make a soft landing on a comet.. The lander was released at 6 a.m. and will take several hours to descend and land on the surface of the comet. The ESA reported that it was receiving signal from the lander, named Philae.

There are several options to monitor the landing.

The European Space Agency has a Webcast live from mission control:

Also, NASA will cover the event:

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage from 9-11:30 a.m. EST (6-8:30 a.m. PST).

NASA's live commentary will include excerpts of the ESA coverage and air from 9-10 a.m. NASA will continue carrying ESA's commentary from 10-11:30 a.m. ESA’s Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 10:35 a.m.  A signal confirming landing is expected at approximately 11:02 a.m.

The Science Channel will provide coverage of the days events at 6 p.m and repeating the broadcast at 9 p.m. on Nov. 12.


October 30, 2014
SCC Astronomy professor, Morrie Barembaum captured this photo with  a handheld iPhone, 8" Dobsonian, and 17 mm eyepiece with a neutral density solar filter.
Yesterday, we viewed the awesome solar eclipse using solar eclipse filters. Even without magnification, students and staff members around the campus were able to spot a giant sunspot on the surface of the Sun. The sunspot was, in actuality, about the size of Jupiter. Astronomy Picture of the Day posted an excellent photo of the sunspot today:
October 22, 2014
Watch a live streaming of this Thursday's (Oct. 23) partial solar eclipse, between 2 p.m. and 4;45 p.m. Live streaming provided by the Griffith Observatory.
For those of you on campus tomorrow afternoon, astronomy instructor Timo Budarz posted this email about the eclipse:

Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday), there will be a partial solar eclipse.  Just under 50% of the sun’s disk will be blocked by the moon in the sky.  It will not be visible to the naked eye.  All you might notice is that the sky might be clear and yet it will be dim like at dusk or dawn.  To actually see the sun being blocked out (reminiscent of a crescent moon in shape), you have options:

1.       Come by my lab (R-328) and I will  have a modified pinhole camera set up.

2.       You can go use a welding mask to view it.  Only the darkest of welding lenses are safe.  I spoke with George Moreno of our welding department, and he will be happy to allow people to use a mask to view the event.

3.       Look under almost any tree on campus during the event and you will see very many crescent images of the sun projected onto the pavement.  At any other time when there is no eclipse going on, we simply see circles which are images of the sun’s full disk.  These are related to pinhole optics and are generally called sun balls.

4.       Use a telescope with a special solar filter.  Do not attempt this without the filter!  I don’t have one of these right now.

The eclipse begins at 2:08pm, and ends at 4:39pm.  The peak (maximal coverage) will be at 3:28pm.  Feel free to stop by the physics lab (R-328) or go see George in K-101.  Keep in mind that there won’t be much going on just after 2:08 or just before 4:39.  Maybe shoot for 3-4pm. 



View from above of the new column structure, plus the roof improvement and bathroom construction continues. Second photo is a view of the front of the building. Serious progress has been made.
September 17, 2014
The planetarium construction site is awash with activity....bathroom walls are almost up, roof reconstruction is well under way and colonnade structure beams are sprouting up around the building.
August 7, 2014
The pace of construction has picked up. Termite damage is being repaired, pipes have been laid, concrete has been poured for the base of columns for the new promenade (see illustration above), the a/c is getting an overhaul, and the bathroom is taking shape (see below).
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July 2, 2014
Concrete has been poured. The forms for the front columns are being built and the bathroom behind the building is definitely taking on a shape.
June 16, 2014
Work is progressing behind the planetarium. Construction of the new bathroom facility has begun.
June 4, 2014
Oh no! Subterranean termites have been discovered lurking below the surface surrounding the planetarium. Long-time Orange County residents are aware that this a common problem throughout our county. Work has been delayed until the termite problem is cleared up. Looks like another 30 days has been added to the construction schedule. Watch for further updates.
May 5, 2014
The Tessmann Planetarium is proud to announce that former SAC student and NASA scholar, Patricia Sullivan, was chosen to intern this summer at NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center. Patricia will report to Huntsville, Alabama on June 2nd, shortly after her graduation from Cal-State Fullerton. Congratulations, Patricia!

May 1, 2014

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Work on the planetarium is progressing rapidly. Workers have been spotted revamping the roof. The front lobby is in the middle of restructuring. The "skin" of building is being peeled off to accommodate mural-sized, astronomy-themed images. The side and back areas of the building have been cleared and dug up to make way for a new bathroom (see photo above). Workers have been fighting powerful santa ana winds all week.

The planetarium is officially closed until the fall for remodeling.

We'll post regular progress reports and let you know how everything's going.

We'll also be posting new classroom aids on this website, like A Guide to Comets (see links at left). And we'll be posting the latest information in astronomy, including what to see in the night sky each month.

You can also see our astronomy postings on our Facebook page. Search for "Tessmann Planetarium."

Check back often to see how we're doing.



The Tessmann Planetarium is getting a facelift.

The Tessmann building is nearing its 50th birthday and has had thousands of children and adults passing through its doors to the cosmos year after year. That’s a lot of wear and tear.

This year, Santa Ana College is beginning a remodeling of most of its campus-and is beginning with our planetarium. We’re getting a new roof (sorely needed), beautiful cosmic images on our outside walls, a remodeled lobby and even a new bathroom facility. Watch for updates to find out how we are going to improve our shows.

However, this does mean that the planetarium will have to close its doors for several months this year.
The construction will take place between November (please see latest date information above) and next summer. Due to uncertainties with the contractors’ schedules and because of safety issues, we will not be able to present shows through much of this period.

However, there may be windows of opportunity to schedule a limited amount of shows. Contractors will let us know when there are times we can bring in the public. We will take names of schools and groups that are interested in waiting for an opening. We can’t promise anything, but we will try to schedule as many shows as possible. We will be scheduling shows until at least November 1st.

If you’d like to get on our notification list, call our reservation line at 714-564-6356.
Look for updates in our newsletters. We will also post the latest information on our Facebook Page (search for “Tessmann Planetarium”) and the college website (…click on the Planetarium link). We will be posting educational material for the classroom. We will keep you informed about the latest on comets, the solar system and other astronomical events.

And watch this website for contests (win a free field trip for your class to the new and improved planetarium, and other goodies).

If you would like to receive our newsletter, send an email to

We hope to have the new Tessmann ready by fall of 2014, and we look forward to seeing you then.

Steve Eastmond
Planetarium Director
Bob Menn
Coordinator and Program Director