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May 2020 a IPS Communicator
Communicator logo
IPS Newsletter — Issue 13 — MAY 2020 a


Special extra newsletter
Image Credit: Messier 51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy), NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

Due to the need for increased communication during the global pandemic, and the timely nature of some of this communication, we are increasing the frequency of the IPS Communicator newsletter from monthly to twice a month.

IPS Mini-Grants
Image Credit: M55: Globular Star Cluster, B.J. Mochejska, J. Kaluzny (CAMK), 1m Swope Telescope.

The IPS is holding a special call for proposals to assist planetariums and planetarians during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will fast track both the application and review process.

We will be awarding 10 mini-grants of $500 each:

  • Six awards are available for planetariums in Emerging Communities through the Star Partners Fund. These awards are meant for planetariums serving under-resourced countries, regions, or localities.
  • Four awards are available through the Armand Spitz Educational Fund to support planetariums and planetarians moving educational activities online during the pandemic.

To reduce the burden on planetarians during this time, we have a simple and short application process (500 words max). Reporting requirements are also minimal (an email describing the outcome of the activity).

Application Deadline is Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Award winners will be announced on or before May 12, 2020.

You can apply here.

IAU OAD Annual Call for Proposals
Image: IAU logo

The call is open to anyone from anywhere in the world and invites proposals for projects that use astronomy as a tool to address an issue or issues related to sustainable development. It follows a 2-stage process, similar to previous years. The deadline for Stage 1 applications is May 31, 2020.

Information on the call can be found here.

IAU OAD COVID-19 proposals
Image Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The OAD is also releasing an additional, extraordinary call for COVID-19 related proposals. We invite proposals for projects or partnerships that use astronomy, in any of its aspects (including skills, methodologies, tools, infrastructure, inspiration or even just networks of astronomers/enthusiasts) to help mitigate some of the impacts of COVID-19. This call will run in parallel with our regular call for proposals but on an accelerated timeline. Deadline for proposals for the extraordinary call is May 15, 2020 and results will be announced around 2 weeks later.

Astronomy, by no means, can solve these enormous challenges by itself but it can have a small role to play in the global, grand scheme of things. As these are complex issues with long term impacts, we recommend proposers consult or work with experts in those domains.

Information and Application can be found here.

LIPS 2020 online sessions
Photo: Attendees of the first LIPS in 2011

Since we cannot hold LIPS (Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium) in person, we'll have some online sessions instead. These online sessions will be held via Zoom and will take place on the days when we would have met in person: Tuesday - Thursday, July 14 - 16.

There is no fee to participate in any online LIPS session. We plan to set the schedule during the week of May 11-15.

If you want to be contacted when the session schedule has been set, please fill out this two question form.

IAU Online Astronomy@Home Awards
Image: International Astronomical Union Awards logo

The International Astronomical Union is asking outreach professionals, educators, amateur and professional astronomers, and astronomy enthusiasts to develop and participate in astronomy activities online. People from all backgrounds and level of experience are encouraged to organise online events using astronomy as an engagement tool to connect online with their communities. From one person streaming their night sky through a telescope at their window; astronomers holding virtual meetups; educators sharing fun activities to DIY at home; to planetariums broadcasting live remote shows; online astronomy challenges, we’re already seeing creative and engaging activities all around! Learn about the award categories and application procedure here.

The Planetarian Network - Update 1
Image Credit: NASA/Joshua Stevens

The response to the new Planetarian Network has been awesome - topping 200 members in less than a month! New topics and contributions have been valued (and particularly relevant giving all that’s going on right now). Here’s an update:

  • Setting up your preferences: Once you've made your account and logged in, you can update your settings (including notifications) by going through the welcome page
  • Topic pages now include: COVID-19 Challenges, Virtual Programming, Citizen Science Projects, and Funding Opportunities. Many more will be coming online based on what the members themselves set up.
  • Is the network just for IPS members? No, it's for everyone! This is a free and open platform designed to support the entire international community. There will be certain pages (committees, for example) that will be private but the vast majority of it will be an open portal for collaboration, research, professional development, resources and fellowship.

Please join us! This is just the beginning. The full potential of this new platform may not be realized for months or even years - it has that much potential.

Questions? You can contact me directly or any of the hosts on the network (select "Members" in the left hand column and click on "Hosts").

More updates to come...

Mike Murray, IPS Membership Committee Chair

Important Dates

The Dome Dialogues e-Conferences continue. Check out or join (if you haven’t joined already) the Dome Dialogues page for announcements.

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