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IDP: Portable Planetarium Outreach
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Calling all Mobile Domes:
Start Preparing Now for IDP 2018

By Susan Reynolds Button
IPS Portable Planetarium Chair
Reprinted from Planetarian, Vol 46 No 2, June 2017

I know that the next International Day of Planetariums—on 11 March 2018—seems a long way away, but we need to begin our plans now because 2018 will be our year to shine!

In the year of 2018, I suggest that we make this a World-wide Outreach Portable Planetarium Event! We can take advantage of collaborating among several organizations and with each other, with the help and direction of IPS, with these goals:

     to honor and encourage the excellent work of mobile planetarium educators.

     to promote IPS as a forum where mobile dome directors can learn from each other

     to reward innovative approaches to science education in portable planetariums


If it is a successful event, with many mobile domes participating, one issue of the Planetarian will be dedicated to the fruits of the event with photos of children of every race, culture and age gracing the pages. Portable domes represent “grassroots” science education at its best, reaching remote corners of the world. You hardworking, wonderful portable outreach teachers will have your day in the sun!


To encourage your participation, there will be prizes for the best photos and videos (For example: the portable dome in the most unusual or remote location, children participating in unique interactive lessons using the outside as well as the inside of the dome) and for the demonstration of collaboration between colleagues around the world through “partnering” on the Day of Planetariums. We are lining up sponsors for these prizes now; they will be announced in this column as well as on the IPS website.

Submitted videos and images will be compiled and mixed as a tribute to the importance of the mobile dome world, where live interaction reigns, and put on the IPS webpage and presented in our individual IPS affiliate meetings.

As our supportive IPS Past President, Joanne Young, exclaimed, “We need to elevate portables in the planetarium food chain. All of us know children. We buy them a million toys, but what do they go crazy over? A big box they can crawl in - Small, immersive environments. Would they prefer a gorgeous permanent planetarium or a portable? Would they rather sit in comfortable chairs with moving parts or on the floor? Where are they going to have the intimate interactions they crave? If you really want to turn young kids on to astronomy, get them inside a portable planetarium!”

If you are as excited about this plan as I am, start preparing now with your excellent talents and imaginations. You can prepare events for the week before, with International Day of Planetariums on Sunday 11 March 2018 as the culminating event or the IDP could be a kick-off for a week of special events following the international celebration.

Keep checking the IPS website for updates about the International Day of Planetariums:


Let’s focus on and celebrate mobile domes in 2018! 

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