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|International Day of Planetariums|
The second Sunday in March:
The Astronomical Center Rijeka Planetarium in Croatia has shared their Day of Planetaria documents as examples to help others prepare their events. We present them here as illustration of best practices.
The International Day of Planetaria (IDP) was born in Italy in 1995. Conceived by the Associazione Amici dei Planetari, it became truly an international day when other planetariums in Europe joined in the celebration. Today it is celebrated in Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Australia, Croatia, the United Statesas, and other countrires as well, and hopes are that it will continue to grow and encompass the globe. Many locations use this day as a kick off event or the culminating day of a week of special programming and activities for the public.
Originally scheduled for the Sunday before the spring equinox, later the date was set as the second Sunday in March to allow planetariums to more easily schedule in advance.
All planetariums, regardless of affiliation, are invited to take part. Facilities that typically have an admission charge are urged to make the day a “free” day for their communities.
Why are planetariums important? In today’s light-polluted world, many people have lost touch with the stars. Only a few can be seen over large cities, and even in some rural areas light encroachment hides the stars of the Milky Way. Planetariums were developed to “capture the stars” and bring them to Earth so that everyone could enjoy and learn about them.
According to the latest unofficial figures, each year 144,012,579 people visit the 4,145 planetariums in the world.
(Ref: Loch Ness Productions, http://www.lochnessproductions.com/reference/attendance/attendance.html)
The goal of IDP is to increase that number by informing as many people as possible that planetariums exist and that learning about the stars, space exploration, and astronomy is an enjoyable life-long activity.
Specific Goals of the International Day of Planetaria:
The first goal is easy to meet simply by holding the IDP event. To help with publicity, see a sample media release.
Suggestions about meeting goal 2, the problem of light pollution, include obtaining public outreach literature from the International Dark Sky Association; obtaining the program Losing the Dark (in fulldome or flatscreen), which can be downloaded from the IDS site at darksky.org/resources/losing-the-dark; collaborating with a nearby dark sky reserve or sanctuary; collaborating with a local amateur astronomical society; and more.
To meet the fourth goal, participating planetariums may display a sign reading “The ____ Planetarium is a proud member of IPS.”
This leaves the third goal, the promotion of international exchanges and thus, the next topic:
In 2018, the name of the effort changed to International Day of Planetariums*, and the observation was changed with the option of celebrating the day on either the Saturday or Sunday of the second weekend of March to allow domes that are not open on Sundays to also take part.
In addition, to enhance the international aspect of the day, a partnership program started.
Just as every nation is joined under the vault of the stars overhead, planetariums are joined in spirit and purpose under one dome. To celebrate this fact, planetariums taking part partner with another facility elsewhere in the world. For example, a planetarium from an Italian city can work with a planetarium in a city from Africa, another country in Europe, Asia, or the USA.
For more information and/or to volunteer as a partner planetarium, contact any of the IPS Affiliate Representatives or
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*Either “planetariums” or “planetaria” is an acceptable plural for more than one planetarium. It is style, however, to use the plural “planetariums” in the IPS journal Planetarian.