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Election 2010
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International Planetarium Society Election 2010

Election deadline TBD

Candidate Statements


Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe

Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig ---||||--- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch


President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Lee Ann Hennig


IPS Office of Secretary

Lee Ann Hennig

Candidate’s Statement


Lee Ann has been a member of IPS since 1972 and a planetarian and astronomy teacher since graduating from college. She teaches Astronomy and operates the planetarium at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia. Lee Ann has a B.S. in Astronomy/Mathematics and an M.S. in Secondary Science Education/Astronomy from the University of Maryland. She has served on many committees, held offices, and participated in conferences associated with IPS, MAPS, and other organizations.


Having served as IPS Secretary since 1995 has provided a platform for increased efficiency with each year of experience. The secretary’s position requires attention to detail, accurate record keeping, and organization and communication skills. Although these issues are not unique to the secretarial position, they are crucial to the effectiveness of the office. Documenting procedures and working to help the organization to be more responsive to the membership is a major goal of Council.

I am grateful for the opportunities and experience I gained from my positions in MAPS and other organizations and situations which allowed me to learn and practice many of the skills that are required in this office. Working with the IPS Council has been rewarding and the members have been most supportive in my endeavors. It has been a pleasure serving as secretary and I hope to continue to carry out the goals and philosophy of IPS and will do my best to make it a stronger organization for the membership.

Thank you for the opportunity,

Lee Ann

President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Alex Cherman photo


For IPS Office of

Alex Cherman


Candidate’s Statement:

IPS has given me a lot. It is only fair I offer something in return. I’m offering my time and my undivided attention to its cause.

If elected, I would be the first president from a developing country. I want to build bridges between developed and developing countries, large and small domes, full dome and traditional planetariums, science and culture.

But, most of all, I want to show people in our community that we might not need bridges after all, since we are already all on the same bank of the river!

Who am I, anyway?

Within the IPS context, I’m usually referred to as "the big guy from Brazil”. I’m an astronomer, a physicist, a writer, a storyteller, an educator and a science communicator. Above all, I’m a planetarian.

Born in 1972, I was practically raised on board a ship. My father, a ship captain, was my first Astronomy teacher and as I learned to read and write, I also learned to navigate by the stars.

At the age of 17, I enrolled in the American Field Service exchange program. AFS sent me to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where I lived for a full year with an American family and graduated from high school.

After my AFS year in the US, I went to college in Rio de Janeiro. I graduated in Astronomy in 1996, cum laude. At that same year, the Rio de Janeiro Planetarium was hiring graduated astronomers! Serendipity at its best…

So I became a planetarian by accident, one might say. And what a fortunate accident that was! I fell in love with the job. I was getting paid to write, to lecture, to make astronomical jokes to little kids, to tell scientific anecdotes to the general audience. I was getting paid to teach and, even better, to learn! Life was good.

And still is!

Thirteen years later, I have a PhD in Physics and I’m head of production of the Rio Planetarium, the largest and busiest planetarium in South America.

I’ve produced eight shows so far, always experimenting with different techniques (you might have heard about the puppets in the dome). I wrote four books (all in my native Portuguese). I also oversee all published material produced by the planetarium, as well as the astronomical content of our website.

I have a special interest in showing underprivileged kids that science can be a valid path for social ascent. They can achieve a better life through knowledge and education. I feel that it is very important to convey to all audiences that science can be fun.

As a member of the planetarium community, I’ve been involved with IPS since 2000. I was elected for two terms (2007-2008 and 2009-2010) as Scientific Director of the Association of Brazilian Planetariums. I had an active role in the process that led IPS to welcome its first ever South American affiliate. I’ve been a member of the IPS Council since 2007. And, most recently, I became an Associate Editor for the Planetarian, producing the PARTYcles comic strip.

I also work as a technical reviewer for English-to-Portuguese translations (from Russell’s "ABC of Relativity” to Ridpath’s "Illustrated Guide to Astronomy”) and as a consultant to various projects of planetariums and museums (I am currently working on the Museum of Tomorrow, designed by Santiago Calatrava, to be opened in Rio, in 2012).

I work in a big institution, with three domes (one of which is 23m in diameter!); I can certainly see eye to eye with the big guys in our industry. But I live in a developing country, which means that my budget is always tight! So I can easily relate to the small domes and their issues as well. I’m a man of both worlds. Bridges, remember?

A big dome with a low budget is a perfect invitation for creativity and lateral thinking! And that is what I will encourage the most in our community: creativity! Let’s not be afraid to try new things. Instead of preparing for the future, let’s create it. It is not about the money, it is not about the technology. Our business has always been, and it will always be, about bold new ideas!

Bold new ideas in science, bold new ideas in science communication, bold new ideas in education. Let’s aim for the stars, for we are planetarians and we can’t settle for less. Head in the sky, feet on the ground. That is what I envision for IPS!

President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Lars Broman photo


For IPS Office of

Lars Broman

Candidate’s Statement

I believe that I am able to serve IPS well as President of the Society. I hope this is evident from what I have done before, what I am today, and what I would like to concentrate on during my presidency.

Past.I created Sweden's then largest planetarium, the Kosmorama Space Theater in 1986. The same year, I invited IPS to hold its first Conference outside the North American Continent, which led to the unforgettable IPS'90 The Boundless Planetarium Conference in 1990 with me as Chair. The same year I became the Nordic Planetarium Association's first President, and I have since been NPA's representative in IPS Council. Since mid-1980ies, I marketed and delivered, together with my brother Per, so many planetariums in the Nordic countries that today well over half of the planetariums in this part of the world have been provided by us. John Mosley asked me to take over as Planetarian's Regional Roundup - later re-named International News - Editor in 1995, and I have been editing this Column ever since. In 2006, in Melbourne, I received the IPS Service Award, something I am very proud of. And since 2007, I am chairing IPS Awards Committee.

Present.I have now time to be IPS President, having recently retired as University Professor, chairing a Masters' Program in Science Communication. Out of 50 graduates, 10 received an Armand Spitz Educational Fund Scholarship, and their theses were published as an IPS Special Report in 2008. This doesn't mean that I sit idle in a rocking chair in front of a cosy fire. No, I have initiated the Nordic Institute for Advanced Study Strömstad Academy, and I am its Rector and one of its 40 Professors (both un-salaried positions). My planetarium Stella Nova has been taken over by the Academy and is now a school planetarium in Strömstad.

Through my small company Teknoland, I assist my brother Per's Broman Planetarium to market and sell domes and all-sky video on the European market. I am also involved in research and acts as the coordinator of the international project Public Understanding of Astronomy, PUA. If elected President of IPS, I plan to hand over some of my duties - the presidency of NPA, the chairing of the Awards Committee, and editing International News - to other planetarians. This will help me to be an active member of IPS Executive Council during the coming six years.

Future.As President of IPS I will continue the internationalization of our Society that has been going on for the last two decades. This can only take place by tighter collaboration with our Affiliate Associations. Maybe an inexpensive associateship in IPS included in the membership of an Affiliate Association would be worth trying. We are after all several thousand planetarians in the world and it is a pity that only a fraction of us are IPS members. An associateship could include an electronic version of Planetarian, which at least partially ought to be multilingual. I would love to see new active Affiliate Associations in e.g. China and the Arab-speaking countries, as well as greeting many ex-members from USA and other countries welcome back to IPS.

IPS members are primarily educators and not scientists. We should however strive for presenting correct science in our planetariums, just like science teachers should do in their classrooms. As your President I would like to promote the planetarium community's strive in this respect. Astrology, creationism, intelligent design and denial of anthropogenic climate influence may be advocated in other institutions in the society but not in planetariums.

Possibilities to interact with friends and colleagues all over the world have benefited tremendously by using computers and Internet. I can foresee a not-so-distant future when international travel will be restricted due to global warming, so maybe IPS Conferences in the future will let as all meet in one location on earth only every fourth year. In between, regional conferences could take place simultaneously and we could interact with planetarians at several places in the world in joint sessions, connected over Internet. During my presidency I would like us to make a first try in 2013.

A final comment: My family name Broman is Swedish for Bridgeman, and I have since long hade a general guideline in everything I am doing: to be a man building bridges between people, between institutions, and between sciences. As a President of IPS, I certainly want to live up to my name!

President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Shawn Laatsch photo


IPS Office of Treasurer/Membership Chair

Shawn Laatsch


Candidate’s Statement

Shawn Laatsch, is Planetarium Manager for the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii where he installed the world’s first 3D stereoscopic planetarium. Originally from Wisconsin, he started his planetarium career at the Wausau West High School Planetarium as a student in 1984. He has served as director for the Arthur Storer Planetarium in Maryland and Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium. In Kentucky, Over the past 26 years he has been actively involved in planetarium management, program development and astronomy education in museum, university, and k-12 settings. He has taught astronomy at the University of Louisville, East Carolina University, and Pitt Community College. Shawn has a passion for cultural and historical astronomy, and sharing the wonders of the universe with people of all ages. In addition to his astronomical background, Laatsch also holds a degree in International Economics. Shawn says: "I have enjoyed serving IPS as its treasurer and membership chair, and hope to have an opportunity to continue to serve IPS as I feel the work of the society is extremely important.”


President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Mark Rigby photo


For IPS Office of

Mark Tristan Rigby

Candidate’s Statement

It was with careful consideration that I accepted nomination as a candidate for IPS President Elect. I only did so after consultation with past and present office holders in order to appreciate what the role involved and to be sure that I could deliver. Accepting the nomination is actually a call to face a six-year commitment of supporting the incoming President as President Elect, serving as President and subsequently occupying the position of Past President - all vital roles that require dedication, providing considered advice and organizational guidance as IPS expands its reach across the planet. I firmly believe that I can fulfil these roles.

It is an exciting time for IPS – a time in which I would relish contributing to the growth of the organization and pursuing a higher public visibility for IPS by extolling the advantages of planetariums in communities around the world. I believe this also would assist planetariums that are under threat. It is an area of first-hand experience and successful outcomes.

IPS has become a global organization with the majority of institutional members being outside the United States, while the US still has the majority of individual members. The IPS 2010 conference served to highlight the importance of reaching out to areas not yet adequately represented in IPS. For example, there is much to be achieved in embracing planetarium developments by supporting existing members and encouraging new affiliates in the Middle East, Africa, China, India and South America.

Our members’ passion and satisfaction comes not only from the success of their own facilities, but also from helping others to achieve their dreams. No matter whether IPS members have the latest full-dome technology and optical star projectors, or the most basic of tools, our goal is to inspire children about their cosmic environment, thus enabling them to see the importance of their role in caring for their home planet.

Technology now allows us to overcome the tyranny of distance. There is still much that IPS can do in the form of webcasts and video archiving of conference presentations in the future. This is not to say that conferences are obsolete - as anyone who attends them knows the valuable benefits of firsthand contact with colleagues from around the globe, the information to be shared and lessons to be learned.

My career has involved both traditional optical star projectors and immersive digital technologies. Working with a 12.5-metre dome means that my experience lies on the boundary of small and large facilities. About two-thirds of my dome time is spent presenting "live” content – the "life blood” of small and medium fixed domes, as well as portable domes. I also present a range of selected pre-rendered shows.

If elected, I will be dedicated to share my experience and to draw upon the collective experience of other IPS officers and committee members. My focus would be to ensure that you see IPS membership as a great benefit that can assist you in achieving your goals.

Work Experience:

I received my first telescope on my 11th birthday and soon began attending astronomical society meetings, constructing my own telescope, writing articles and giving talks. Communicating is what I loved then, and still do.

At university, I became interested in journalism to address my strong desire to communicate science and soon became involved in the media with particular emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. In the 1980s, I also managed a high-profile Australian space science competition sponsored by Australia’s national communications satellite company.

While my planetarium career has absorbed most of my time since 1985, I have travelled extensively and visited planetariums and space facilities whenever possible. I have undertaken journeys to witness and report on space missions as well as eight total solar eclipses, the most recent in Libya, Siberia, China and on Easter Island.

Planetarium experience:

I joined the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium as Assistant Curator in 1985 and became Curator in 2002. I have been very hands-on in the planetarium’s administration, publicity, show production and presentation - personally presenting more than 10,000 shows. Since 2004, I have overseen two major upgrades of the facility with digital full-dome systems. I am now overseeing the acquisition of a new optical star projector.

List of memberships of professional organizations:

  • Member, International Planetarium Society since 1992.

  • Australasian Planetarium Society: member since its formation in1998; Treasurer 2003-2008; President and Affiliate Representative to IPS since May 2008.

  • Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences – elected 2007.

Background Information:

Name: Mark Tristan Rigby

Work Address: Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
Mt Coot-tha Road
Toowong, Brisbane,
Queensland 4066

Contact details: Office: +61-7-3403 2577
Fax: +61-7-3403 2575

President-Elect: Alexandre Cherman -|- Lars Broman -|- Mark Rigby -|- Thomas Kraupe
Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|- Treasurer: Shawn Laatsch -|- Top of page

Thomas Kraupe photo


For IPS Office of

Thomas Kraupe

Candidate’s Statement:

Dear fellow planetarians, I am what I am because of you – all you inspirational planetarians out there – in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe! Joining force with you keeps me going, striving for excellence! IPS is like a big family for me and since you fellow planetarians have given so much to me, I want to give as much as possible back to you! So it is a great honour for me to be in this fine group of candidates – and friends - for the office of IPS President.

In my years as astronomer & assistant director at Stuttgart Planetarium (1984-1993) and as director of the new Planetarium at Deutsches Museum Munich (1993-96), the internationality and spirit of IPS was like a magnet for me. Since 1988 I did not miss a single IPS conference!

From 1994 till 2000 – while working in Munich and also for the New Hayden Planetarium Project in New York City - I had the honour of being the first (and so far only) IPS Officer and IPS President (1997-98) coming from a non-English speaking country. During my term I presided over the IPS’98 conference in London.

Since late 2000 I live and work in the beautiful city of Hamburg in Northern Germany. As astronomer-director of Hamburg Planetarium ( I continued my work for IPS as council member and in several IPS committees. At IPS 2010 in Alexandria, I received the IPS Service Award – the highest honour of our society – this means a lot to me and is an encouragement for the future.

We live in an exciting new era for Planetariums, propelled by a fast pace of new digital media – and no one can forsee the future – but I promise to work hard to make the future possible. Instant tools of communication like domecasts, blogs and twitter have the potential to empower our IPS network to amplify our efforts. We are the right people for a new dimension of global projects bringing together domes of all sizes – fixed and mobile - and leaving no one behind.

As much as I embrace new technologies – I know that content is more important and most important: people! As president I would continue to listen to you, extend the efforts of current and past presidents to strengthen partnerships with major research organisations - even beyond astronomy into Earth- and Geosciences - and use my excellent worldwide contacts to establish new content partnerships for the upcoming new generation of space missions, observatories and research labs.

I am an astrophysicist, who had speciallized in cosmology and X-Ray astronomy. But I am keen on all sorts of explorations and in our immersive theaters we now can take audiences virtually anywhere, linking us humans to all scales - from Nano- to Macro-dimensions.

My focus as president would be on helping us planetarians to succeed in these exciting but demanding new immersive environments – f.e. by

  • Further improving our network for communication, information and publication

  • Creating new opportunities for exchange across cultural borders

  • Providing guidance for solutions and recommended standards

  • Creating visibility and awards for „best practice"

  • Establishing opportunities for professional training (workshops, summer schools etc.)

  • Adapting IPS conference organisation and content to changing needs

  • Evolving the structure of our organisation and sharpening tasks of IPS committees

You know, it is neither the size of your dome - nor the size of your budget - it is the dedication and passion that empowers each of us – our passion for storytelling! And there are so many untold stories – and so many incredible storytellers like you out there! It is my vision that our growing network of IPS will support you, so that many more of these stories make it up on our domes – and into the minds and hearts of people around the globe.

I am convinced that our domes reach far beyond the scientific arena – with the spirit of artists they open up new perspectives on ourselves. Hence, as president of IPS I would not only strengthen the scientific basis, but also build bridges into the arts & digital media and encourage the great artistic skills we have within our worldwide membership. You can count on my experience, dedication and vision for advancing IPS following your needs. Since our marvellous officers Lee Ann and Shawn have already worked with me in the past, I do expect that very efficient teamwork would kick in from day one - for the benefit of all members.



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