One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
We all know this adage… and while I was travelling back from IPS 2014 in China and thereafter, when I put this message in writing, this adage made me think of Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin—and, of course, the “lonesome astronaut,” Mike Collins.
It was just 45 years ago when Neil and Buzz became the first humans to set foot on the moon, and they were the first to look back at our world from the surface of another world. The pictures they took of that one look back at us changed our world and influenced us more than most people think: these small steps on the moon, in “magnificent desolation” with a blue planet shining in the pitch black sky above, became, in essence, the force that made a lot of us become what we are now: planetarians.
Traveling to another world or just traveling to foreign countries, visiting planetariums and attending conferences; words are sometimes not worthy. It was a tough job for me to write with just words bout my extraordinary trip to Shanghai, Macao, Beijing, Nagoya, and Yokohama/ Tokyo, a tour built around our 22nd International Planetarium Society Conference (June 23-27) in China.
In case you didn´t attend this landmark conference in Beijing, talk to those of your colleagues who did! I am sure they will join me by saluting our host Dr. Jin Zhu and his team for a truly fantastic and unforgettable event!
Only once before, 18 years ago, IPS convened in Asia: IPS1996 in Osaka, Japan. This conference made its mark as the birthplace of the fulldome medium by unveiling the power of GOTO Virtuarium at the Osaka Science Center Planetarium.
Now the second IPS conference in Asia and the first-ever in China managed to move this young medium forward with entirely new creative angles and magnificent artistic expressions, empowering us to experience our world from new perspectives.
For the first time, a planetarium fulldome festival happened as an integral part of an IPS conference: the IPS-Macao International Fulldome Festival at the magnificent Macao Science Center Planetarium. With the world´s first 8K-3D system, Macao Planetarium was indeed the perfect place to showcase, in all of its gory, the full variety of content produced by creative minds from around our planet.
Me, with Xiao Lin, assistant to Jin Zhu on the right. Xiao and Jin put on a truly fantastic conference. Photo by Frank Michael Arndt.
One planetarium show is worth a thousand pictures
More than 60 productions were submitted to the Macao festival. Of those, more than 30 were selected by the jury for screening. Thanks to a unique arrangement between Macao Science Center, the Beijing Planetarium and IPS, the festival adjudication process was a pre-conference event of IPS 2014 and part of our mission to enable sharing of ideas, insights and creative work in planetariums around the globe.
Half of the awards were handed out in Macao and the other half in Beijing, and participants of IPS 2014 were able to see all the award-winning productions during the conference.
On the next page is the list of the award-winning productions. A wonderful brochure with information about the festival and all productions has been made available by Macao Science Center, and we are working on making a version available for all interested IPS members via download. Please check the IPS website for more information.
Indeed I am very happy and proud about this achievement and want to thank our hosts and the teams of Macao Science Center (with President Peter Lam and Dr. Yip Chee Kuen in particular) and Beijing Planetarium (Dr. Jin Zhu) for their vision and dedication—and all sponsors and partners for making this festival become reality.
Special thanks also to Eugenides Foundation (Athens) for providing the prize money of US$2,000 for IPS to award the Best Educational Production.
The start of a new tradition
I am sure that this fulldome festival is the beginning of a new tradition for IPS because we have to continue to value and embrace excellence in production and planetarium content and combine our conferences with showcases and festivals for planetarium shows at future conferences.
Manos Kitsanos , our new chair of the IPS Awards Committee, will work with the IPS officers and Council to analyze this festival and find areas where we can improve and establish liaisons of new and existing festivals at upcoming IPS conferences and in off-conference years.
Building on experience
The great example on how to organize an IPS conference set by IPS 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Jon Elvert and his team was followed by a conference which successfully incorporated that experience and combined it with marvelous Chinese hospitality and culture.
Asia, with China, Japan, and also South Korea, is such a fascinating region and so important for the future of our world. IPS and all of you need to go there more often. I promise you I will work with our Asian colleagues to improve the exchange of ideas and work on future IPS related events in that region!
IPS2014 in Beijing focused on “Educating for the Future” and on the significant role of planetariums in future astronomy education. It showcased the latest advancements in astronomy and planetarium theater management and technology, while providing an ideal forum for the exchange of ideas on astronomy education and visitor experience.
The most important words: face-to-face
Pictures, videos, shows, and words. It does not matter how we count or assign value to them, because the most important part of communication is live and in person. So, even though the quote is sometimes “1001 words is worth more than a picture,” I argue that any words, face-to-face, are worth more.
We have to discuss and argue about concepts and perspectives. We all value direct communication and debates on those challenges face to face. That is why an IPS conference is such a valuable event and is time well spent.
Committee chairs: valued experience in guiding our field
At IPS 2014 we tried, for the first time, to put almost all our committee chairs in the role of presenting and guiding workshops for best practice in our field.
In particular, I would like to mention the highly-attended session on Planetarium Design and Operations by Ian McLennan and his panel of architects, who are gathering input for the new web-based edition of “So You Want To Build a Planetarium” and sparking debates about the strategy for keeping our planetarium theaters attractive in the future. Watch for the first draft of this living document on the webpage of Ian´s Planetarium Design and Operations Committee.
Beijing Planetarium, with its enormously rich variety of domes and venues, even made possible an improved conference setting, allowing for a large variety of topics and sessions to be presented in big and well-equipped domes.
Stunning examples in science visualization gathered by our Data to Dome Committee were presented in the session chaired by Mark SubbaRao, using the brand-new 8K system in Beijing Planetarium´s 23-m dome.
Our dear friend Sho Itoh blew us away with amazing supercomputing visualizations from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, showing us, among others, the evolution of galaxies and the extragalactic web over billions of years.
And Lars Lindberg Christensen, European Southern Observatory`s head of public relations and outreach, announced and presented free fulldome media (images and short videos) produced in ultra high definition especially for our worldwide planetarium community. You cam already find the link for downloading these beautiful media on the IPS Website.
Mark Webb, chair of the new Presenting Live Under the Dome Committee, conducted not just one, but three sessions on practical use of our dome for education.
I am very grateful to these wonderful and dedicated people we have in IPS, who help us to develop our profession further into the future, and I would like to thank all the chairs who worked so diligently and passionately for us in the past.
Education Committee changes
In particular I like to thank Jack Northrop for serving as chair of the Education Committee in recent years. Jeanne Bishop will now follow in his footsteps as new chair of the committee. I am sure that Jack will continue to support this mission with his experience.
Indeed, the theme of IPS2014 gave us the prefect platform for recalibrating the committee´s mission. I was thrilled to see the enthusiasm of Dr. Jeanne Bishop when she accepted this new challenge and we started to discuss the next steps.
Her committee intends to connect with planetarium educators in different countries around our tiny world and at different types of planetarium facilities, gather information about programs offered, arrange sessions at conferences, discuss and ignite research and evaluation on the impact of immersive education and present best practices from around the world.
Please check the Education Committee page on our website for further information and how you can contribute to this important mission.
It was especially useful that Tokyo-based Sze-leung Cheung, the International Outreach Coordinator and Head of the Office for Astronomy Outreach of the International Astronomical Union, actively participated in the Beijing sessions on education. It gave us a chance to continue the discussion about the upcoming International Year of Light 2015 (IYL2015), which not only will deal with light in astronomy and space-related aspects, but which also will offer opportunities to build upon and continue the experiences and successes achieved by planetarians around the world during the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).
It is rewarding to check out the website at www.light2015.org. The IAU is one of the supporting organizations for IYL2015 and actively is organizing projects for the year, such as one called Cosmic Light. More information will be soon available on www.light2015.org/ Home/CosmicLight.html and the IAU website as well.
Many thanks to Lars Broman
A word on Professor Lars Broman, who just retired as chair of the IPS Awards Committee. Lars has been a rock for our organization, as in rock solid in reviewing potential awards candidates and igniting debates for many, many years. He always provided IPS with unique and passionate impulses towards a future, taking care also of the human side of education and planetariums around the globe.
I hope he will continue to raise his voice for the benefit of our beloved planetariums.
We will miss Lars as chair of the Awards Committee, but we are fortunate that Manos Kitsanos, the new director of the Eugenides Planetarium in Athens, Greece, accepted the call to step into this role for the upcoming years.
His style and experience will be great assets for assessing and expanding the mission of the committee in the years to come.
The IPS awards
It is important for us to value members who have made outstanding contributions to our field, be it in the field of service or content, ideas or technology. At IPS 2014 the IPS Fellows and Technology and Innovation Award honorees were presented to the membership at the IPS Banquet, a spectacular event staged at the Temple of the Earth that featured a grand dinner show with marvelous examples of Chinese history of theater.
Philip Sadler and Ludwig Meier, two masterminds from the field of science education and technology, respectively, received our IPS Technology and Innovation Awards. Unfortunately, neither of them could attend the conference, so our American affiliates will hand the award to Dr. Sadler.
On August 4, it was a special privilege for me to personally hand over the IPS Technology and Innovation Award to Dr. Ludwig Meier in a special tribute for him at Zeiss Jena.
We salute them for the passion and dedication both show to the worldwide planetarium community.
Indeed, passion and dedication are fitting words also for Dave Weinrich, and he showed that in his emotional speech when accepting the Past President Award for his six years of service as officer of IPS. Dave, we will miss you in our team of officers—but we are happy that you now will have more time to help us move forward with IPS in Africa.
Thanks to the work of our hosts in Beijing and our fine IPS Publications Committee, you all can look forward to receive, as part of your IPS membership, the proceedings of our Beijing IPS conference in the near future.
Handing the IPS Technology and Innovation Award to the mastermind Dr. Ludwig Meier, with Wilfried Lant (left) at Carl Zeiss Jena. Photo by Jürgen Scheere.
Making the directory accessible
Dr. Dale Smith and the Publications Committee he is chairing will now also work toward making the IPS Directory of the World´s Planetariums more accessible to the membership as a searchable online-database with multiple search fields. Plans will also proceed on a special publication that will just include the subset of Digital/Fulldome Planetariums.
Dale´s team includes Planetarian Editor Sharon Shanks, who also assists as editor and co-content manager of the web site, and Alan Gould, our skilled IPS webmaster.
All IPS Committee members, Council and officers of IPS deserve my thanks for all the support in these areas. Certainly we all wish that new ideas and projects would move forward more rapidly, but we are aware that sometimes we need to be a little patient and also be aware that the work is done entirely by volunteers. We need even more volunteers who actively participate!
We have a lot of tools already online and discussion and participation is possible around the world. This needs to be encouraged and moved forward—not top down, but in a bottom up fashion, because it must relate to and be relevant for you, the IPS member.
So, I once more would like to encourage you, along with all our regional IPS representatives (our affiliates in Council), to engage in participation along with IPS members in the respective region.
One such project we can only realize with the respective affiliates is making available online (and maybe even in our magazine) the abstracts in English language of interesting papers presented in other languages at regional conferences.
Thanks to a great conversation I had in Nagoya with Hiromichi Gan, president of the Japanese Planetarium Association (JPA), we will now explore such a possible link or exchange with JPA. You would hence gain regular access to a region beyond what our column International News already provides and we would have yet another benefit of IPS membership.
See? There is a lot we will have to nurture and harvest in IPS, and IPS committees chairs are here to lead the way.
In addition, we should never forget that all the vendors are a vital part of our IPS family and conferences. The exhibition floor both at the Macao event and in Beijing had several small domes presenting truly smart solutions, many of them never seen before. They revealed that sometimes “smaller is better” and they made us aware that there is a revolution going on the field of portable domes and projection quality, even in the smallest planetarium theater.
IPS 2016 Conference and beyond: small steps and giant leaps
At the IPS 2014 banquet and closing ceremony, Jin Zhu passed on the burden and challenge of organizing an IPS conference to our next hosts at the Kopernikus Science Center and Heaven of Copernicus Planetarium in Warsaw, Poland.
IPS 2016 is scheduled for June 19-25. The young and enthusiastic conference team, which includes Maciej Ligowski, Weronika Malinowska, and CEO Robert Firmhofer, is indeed keen on reinventing the way we do conferences and following through with what we aim for in our Vision 2020, so prepare for “Rock and Roll,” or, in their words: Revolve! Keep your eye on the conference website at www.ips2016.org for more details as we move closer toward the date.
The 2018 conference
After we witnessed the intense competitions for hosting IPS in 2014 and 2016, it came as a surprise that we received only one bid for hosting IPS in 2018 as we reached the deadline for submissions, despite the efforts made from all sides, including IPS officers and affiliates.
We are fortunate, however, because this one bid came from Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, a city that has quite a tradition in field of planetariums and in IPS. It hosted a successful IPS in 1992 at the old Hansen Planetarium. In 2018, the new Clark Planetarium, which opened in 2003 with its Hansen Dome Theatre, an IMAX theater and exhibits, is offering to host us.
Under the theme Open Spaces, Open Minds, Planetarium Director Seth Jarvis and Planetarium Manager Mike Murray promise us new opportunities, horizons, and technologies.
IPS 2018 is scheduled for June 25-29. If you are anxious to check out the site, then go to www.clarkplanetarium.org, and watch for more details about the bid in future issues of this journal.
Stay in touch with your representative on IPS Council, who, along with the officers, will work with our potential host, going over all the necessary details in order to formally approve the conference proposal at next year’s council meeting.
This next IPS Council meeting will happen in summer 2015 at Montreal Planetarium. Many thanks to Pierre Lacombe for offering to host council at his amazing new facility!
We certainly urge you to start thinking now about IPS conference sites in 2020 and beyond. We always love to see competition and we would like to see old and new sites from around the world taking part in the bidding. Consider the tremendous impact and energy which will be unleashed when you host an IPS conference for such a unique worldwide group of creative enthusiasts.
Our IPS website provides you with all the necessary information on the bidding process, but feel free to contact me and my fellow officers if you have any questions about that.
IPS 2014 in Beijing has shown once more that the “I” in IPS is a big asset for us and we need to build more on this. We all were amazed by the richness of planetarium activities all over China, Japan, Korea, and Asia as a whole, and we were deeply moved to see what colleagues were willing to go through in order to come to Beijing.
In particular, I was deeply moved to see what colleagues were willing to go through in order to come to Beijing. Iryna Filipova, director of Donetsk Planetarium, came from the war zone of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
My hope is that Vision 2020 will indeed reshape IPS as a good worldwide “ecosystem” allowing free innovation exchange. This will make us grow and collaborate for a better future for planetariums and planetarians, with more creative solutions than any single planetarium could ever hope to offer.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve IPS and contribute to this endeavor. We will need your expertise, help, and support to navigate our organization into the future. And I am sure that these challenges will make us stronger! Along with my fellow officers, council and committees I will not hesitate and will continue this endeavor.
Coming up: a trip to South America
In November of this year, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Bogota Planetarium in Colombia, I will visit South America and am sure I will have a chance to also visit Argentina and hopefully Brazil, plus even Mexico in early December.
I look forward to exploring new ideas and learning new perspectives and to team up with you and partners like IAU for enhancing our strategies to spread the knowledge about the night sky and all that connects us with the universe, because it connects us with each others!
Some 45 years after Neil made one small step, we still have to do many small steps. But we also can look forward to what our bigger steps and leaps forward might be. IPS is here to what inspires the people who visit us. bring us all together, to share and develop our vision and to teach our ability to imagine the future of all of us on blue planet Earth.
As always, onwards and upwards.