Dear Fellow Planetarians:
While I am writing this column for you, I can´t help but I feel a bit
torn apart between extremes: on one side, our world is showing a devastating
face of terror, where innocent people are being killed or live in poverty— and
there is the other side, the mind-boggling "wonderworld" of new scientific
discoveries on all scales of the universe.
There has been an unprecedented lineup of discoveries, from nearby
earthlike planets (NASA Kepler) to details of the early universe 13.8 billion
light years away from us (ESA Planck Mission). We live in a world where our mind
has to deal with such extremes and an ever-increasing load of events from
around the world.
So, how do we manage to peer through such an overload and still reach
the minds and hearts of the people? I truly believe we have a vital asset for
that: our planetariums! They are the unique and ideal communication platform
helping to unite people and remind them what we all have in common: "one
sky—one spaceship Earth—one people.”
Even when societies face big challenges, we planetarians should neither
slow down nor give up with our "Mission to Earth.” And we all know that we have
the biggest impact with our youngest audiences and so we should focus on them.
For young children visiting our planetariums the first time, it could be a life
Remember when you were young? All of us who grew up during the early
days of the space race got so much inspiration from the men and woman who
boldly went where no one had gone before.
People are interested in people, and so we really have to think about
the individuals related to exploration and scientific adventures in our time.
Who would you consider? Can you attract them for an event in your theater or
work with them to continue their legacy?
50 years ago–and to the future
Among the big "names from the past,” you certainly focus on Yuri
Gagarin and Neil Armstrong, but do not forget Valentina Tereshkova, the first
woman to fly in space on 16 June 1963, 50 years ago! She had been selected from
more than 400 applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6.
In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only honorarily
inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian
to fly in space! She spent nearly 3 days in space and orbited Earth 49 times.
Believe it or not, it took 19 years until the second woman, Svetlana
Savitskaya, flew into space.
I hope that I can meet Valentina in person at one of the upcoming
festivities in Russia. Already last year I had the privilege of being invited,
along with German cosmonaut Sigmund Jaehn, to the new "Valentina Tereshkova Planetarium”
in Yaroslavl, Central Russia, near where she was born in 1937, and I met her daughter
The marvelous architecture of this planetarium with a beautiful mosaic
artwork in the lobby dedicated to Valentina not only houses a state-of-the-art
digital fulldome theater, but also wonderful exhibt areas and interactive spaces.
A salute to "Chaika" (in English, Seagull, Valentina’s call sign in
this flight and later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika) and
all cosmonauts and planetarians in Russia! You all will continue to inspire and
engage many more generations— and girls in particular— about space and the
environment we all live in.
As you can see, there are great stories which need to be told not just
in one cultural area, but all around the world. We share so much, and hence the
"I” in IPS is growing in importance. All of us will benefit if we manage to improve
our communications and our exchange of concepts and success stories in our planetarium
IPS and IDA
A good example of what an international network can achieve is the
program Losing the Dark, a free new resource for planetariums everywhere.
This presentation is a 61/2 minute public service announcement from
IDA, the International Dark-Sky Association, and Loch Ness Productions that
clearly and engagingly illustrates how our world is being drowned in light
pollution. This topic is extremely relevant for all of us and that is why the
IPS provided seed money to start the project.
Originally released in English, the program may now be downloaded for
free in a variety of formats and languages (currently available is a German,
Hindi, Korean, and Spanish version, with more languages soon to come). An
article about this project has already been published in the March issue of Planetarian.
Links to the download area can be found on our homepage at
IPS 2014 in China
When you read this message, I will just have returned from a site
inspection in Beijing in China, the site of our next IPS conference. On this
trip I was in the company of Jon Elvert, our host in 2012, in order to secure
his experience and best practice from IPS 2012 in Baton Rouge, which was such
an extremely successful conference. You can be sure that our host, Dr. Jin Zhu,
and his great team in Beijing will amaze us with yet another unforgettable IPS conference
We want to make IPS 2014 as accessible as possible for a large number
of IPS members on site. In addition, we also consider enhancing virtual access
to the conference through the internet and making downloads of recorded presentations
(keynotes) available for later viewing.
Despite the growing importance of remote access through new streaming
and online media, you should not underestimate the importance of joining this
event in Beijing. There is nothing like it when you feel the energy in the room
filled with planetarians from around the world! Mark your calendar now for the
conference date of June 23-27, 2014. IPS 2014 in Beijing will be an experience
not to miss!
Please check the conference website for updates. More details will be
posted soon and sent out to IPS members. My next President´s Message will tell
you how things are progressing. If you have any questions regarding this conference,
please do not hesitate and contact me or my fellow officers.
D-day approaching for IPS 2016
August 11-13, IPS council will gather in South Tyrol in Northern Italy
and decide where we will go for the 2016 conference. The three sites competing
for IPS 2016—Telus World of Science in Edmonton (Canada), Citè Espace in
Toulouse (France), and Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw (Poland)—have made
Please review once more the March issue of this magazine, or look at
the online versions on the IPS homepage. Now is your last opportunity to
communicate with your representative on council (see page 2) and let him or her
know what you think and what questions should be answered before decision day.
CAP 2013 and Year of Light 2015
From October 14-18 I will certainly attend the conference
"Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2013" in Warsaw, Poland. This important
conference gathers research scientists and industry representatives as
producers of astronomical and space-related information with public information
officers in the field , science journalists, and staff members from
planetariums, museums and science centers.
CAP is a very interesting forum to discuss and evaluate ways for
communicating astronomy in many different ways. See www.communicatingastronomy.
Along with Robert Firmhofer, host and current president of ECSITE, I am
working on a special panel targeting what planetariums and IPS can offer to
complement the CAP strategy of the International Astronomical Union beyond 2013.
This, in particular, will put the upcoming International Year of Light 2015 in
Following the lessons learned in the International Year of Astronomy,
we should start to plan early! I do encourage you to participate in this
endeavor. More information will be made available as we move forward.
Officer Meeting in Denver
The team of IPS officers met in Denver on February 9-10 during the
IMERSA Summit. The agenda included a review of our conference guidelines and
how we can help membership and council evaluate/assess conference bids.
Improved guidelines are being worked upon and will be discussed at the council
meeting in August.
Dan Neafus and his team at the Denver Museum of Natural History put
together a really great showcase during the summit that spanned the history and
the future aspects of immersive media. We were very pleased about this
opportunity, which led to a joint meeting of the IPS officers with IMERSA’s board
Although there are wide differences in scope, with IMERSA barely having
an international member base and IPS with its worldwide system of affiliates,
there are also many similarities in terms of passion and desire for growth.
There are many opportunities for mutually-beneficial collaboration. IMERSA has
the edge in terms of focusing on technologies and areas where entertainment
meets education and the arts meet science, hence in a zone where creativity
happens. Several more or less experimental presentations in Denver were great
examples for that.
We agreed that a collaboration between IPS and IMERSA should move
forward in steps and target specific areas where we can achieve concrete
results by benefitting from each others strengths. Areas selected for that are
Details will have to be determined yet and we surely have to build on
the expertise of our members. We are confident that steps can be agreed upon
this summer so that we can move forward.
- Immersive media/fulldome standards following DIGGS (which was funded in part by IPS)
- Awards for excellence
- Cross promotion of conferences
- Providing opportunities for professional development
We thank Dan Neafus and the whole IMERSA board for their hospitality
and look forward towards a new level of exchange among our organizations.
In the light of the digital revolution in the planetarium field, IPS
really needs to set specifications— at least basic operation standards— based
on planetarium needs, which will provide guidelines for those who plan, build
and operate planetariums with content for audiences of today. As I have
outlined already, a cooperative approach with IMERSA will help here, but there
is more at stake: IPS needs to think where it wants to go in the future.
Along with IPS President-elect Paul Knappenberger, I am working on
steps towards such a long-term strategy of IPS and this will be a key issue for
discussions at the upcoming council meeting.
IPS Task forces /Committees
Re-launch of IPS committees is underway, but with some delays. You will
notice on page 3 that some committees have finished their work and are
terminated now, while only one new committee is listed. There will be more coming
alive later this summer.
I am very pleased however, that I can announce that Dr. Mark SubbaRao
agreed to chair the new "Science & Data Visualization Task Force." Yes, I
prefer "task force” over "committee.”
Mark is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in
Chicago and a research scientist in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
at the University of Chicago. As a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey team,
he has already proven his expertise handling large data sets and writing codes.
As chair of this new IPS committee, he will focus on the "big data”
that scientists gather with new space- and ground-based observatories and
He will help establish a workflow leading from these experiments and
their corresponding computer data to science visualizations on our domes. For
this endeavor he will connect with the big data hubs and supercomputing sites
around the globe, Chicago, Geneva and Tokyo among them. I am convinced that this
work will be a vital building block for the future of the planetarium.
As soon as council meets in August, you will receive news also about
other committees and their tasks which are ready to launch and will provide us
with debates and help guiding solutions and recommended standards.
Please note also that we are moving forward towards web publishing.
This current issue of Planetarian is the first issue which is being published
for all members simultaneously as printed version and as digital online version.
Back issues still will be available in PDF format online, and
additional issues will be converted to "digizine” form on Issuu as time
I would like to thank our webmaster Alan Gould for his dedication and
expertise in all technical areas and our editor Sharon Shanks for her creativity
and editorial excellence. In close collaboration with Alan, she is continuously
improving not just the print version, but also the digital version of our
She has taken on the additional role of content editor for our website,
including the digital version our magazine. She enriches it with an ever
increasing number of links and cross references. These are great steps forward. Thanks also go to the oversight by Prof.
Dale Smith, chair of IPS Publications Committee.
Don´t forget: your input is needed, especially your stories about what
worked and what didn’t work in your planetarium. Now you can do that also on
Facebook on our IPS group www.facebook.com/groups/33476998420.There are many ways to contribute your most valuable assets—your
knowledge and your passion—and help to shape the future of IPS and the
Onwards and upwards!
Thomas W. Kraupe
President, International Planetarium Society Inc.
Director, Planetarium Hamburg
Planetarium Hamburg, Hindenburgstr.1b, D-22303 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 (40) 4288652-50 | iPhone: +49 (172) 4086133 | Fax: +49 (40) 427924850
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.planetarium-hamburg.de