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IPS 2018 - Toulouse
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Toulouse, aerial view  

Photo © Ville de Toulouse

IPS 2018, 1-6 July 

Welcome to France, Welcome to Toulouse!


Taken from the December 2015 Planetarian
Vol. 44, No. 4 
pages 16-17, 36

It is a great honor to have been selected by the IPS Council during its meeting in Montreal last August to host the Congress of IPS in 2018. We would like first to thank Council members for their confidence in choosing Toulouse and Cité de l’espace, and to congratulate our colleagues and competitors, from Edmonton, Rio, and Arlington, who presented very good bids, rising very high the level of excellence in conference bid preparation.

So, after Baton Rouge in 2012, Beijing in 2014, and Warsaw in 2016, Cité de l’espace, Toulouse, will organize the 24th International Planetarium Society Conference, for the first time in France, a country where planetariums have been very dynamic for close to 80 years.

Hosting IPS 2018 will be a great opportunity for all delegates to enjoy a brilliant conference, and to discover many nteresting places related to space and astronomy as well a beautiful part of Europe.

View of the garden at Cite de l'espace

The team planning the 2018 IPS Conference 

A view of the garden at Cité de l’espace and the team planning the conference; both ©Manuel Huyhn.


Be certain that the teams of the Cité de l’espace and So Toulouse (the Toulouse Convention Bureau) will do their best to make this first conference in France an unforgettable event.

In this first article in our magazine Planetarian, we would like to give you a first flavor of what we plan to offer you for your stay in Toulouse, for the conference and beyond.

Cité de l’espace: One site fits all!

We believe our center has many assets to host an IPS conference, and this is why our proposal for IPS 2018 is to host the full conference within Cité de l’espace, so that delegates will enjoy four days fully immerged in a space and astronomy environment!

Since our opening in 1997, we welcome 300,000 visitors every year in Cité de l’espace, and have celebrated the visit of our 5 millionth visitor last year. We do our best to share with them our passion for everything that is above us: from satellites to astronauts, from the moon to extrasolar planets, from nebulae to galaxies.

In Cité de l’espace, IPS 2018 delegates will enjoy:

  • Two planetariums with full digital projection,
  • 2.500m2 of totally renovated permanent exhibitions, presenting space and astronomy in an innovative setting,
  • The gardens, with real-sized objects like the XMM space telescope, Soyouz spacecraft, Ariane5, and the Mir station,
  • An astronomical observatory opened in 2014 with a 16-in telescope and a solar telescope
  • A 3D Imax theatre, temporary exhibitions, and conference rooms and auditorium

Thanks to our two planetariums and flat screen cinema, delegates will discover, in comfort, the new technological developments offered by the planetarium industry.

Inside the dome at Cité de l’espace; ©Manuel Huyhn

Inside the large planetarium domeThe bigger planetarium has a 20m dome and 280 seats; its large gallery will allow for any new equipment installation for special demos. Beside it, the Stellarium is a 15m theatre equipped with fulldome video. It offers 133 seats for simultaneous demonstrations. Both theaters are tilted 10°. Using both theaters will allow more than 400 delegates to follow dome demos at the same time.

In addition to these two domes, a 300-seat Imax 3D theater with a complementary digital projection system will allow parallel flat screen presentations by vendors in a very professional way and with high quality conditions for everyone.

During the evenings of planetarium and flat screen demonstrations, delegates will also have the chance to visit our center, its gardens, and exhibitions, and enjoy sky observations thanks to our new telescope. While writing this article, the City of Toulouse, owner of the facilities, started the process of complete renovation of the largest planetarium, including brand new technologies, high definition projectors, and interactive devices in all seats.


Planetarium Live! IN and OUTSIDE the Dome

Planetariums play a very special role in the area of science engagement, by being familiar, beloved and securing places for many visitors. Still, in an age where access to knowledge and technology has totally being transformed, planetariums of all sizes are facing new challenges.

At the same time, the world of scientific culture is experiencing new trends, such as the use of big real data, the hackers
movement, the makers and fablab culture, the increased use of social media -- encouraging visitor engagement on often low-budget programs.

How will these new trends affect (or not affect)  the planetarium world?

For the 2018 conference, we would like to focus on “Planetarium Live! IN and OUTSIDE the Dome” and take it as the theme. Despite new technical improvements, interaction between the public and a “live” person is one of the keys to the success of planetarium shows.

The live action in the planetarium can be extremely varied. From welcoming our visitors and implementing the variety of shows in our domes to bidding them to return, the role of the staff in our theaters is fundamental in our profession. From theory to practical activities in and outside domes, we would like to explore altogether the variety and richness of human interaction with our diverse audiences, linked to our different cultures and habits.

IPS 2018 “Planetarium Live! IN and OUTSIDE the dome” will be the first international laboratory of best live practices under and outside our domes, in all their dimensions and diversities. In order to be able to fully explore this theme, we plan to dedicate one of our two planetariums to this subject, and to use it for live planetarium sessions during all the conference.
Our new astronomical observatory will also be used as a demonstration tool for possible associated activities, as could be the whole of la Cité de l’espace.

We want attendees to leave the conference inspired, enlightened, taking with your new ideas, new connections, new skills, and new plans for the future, no matter the size or the budget of your institution. In order to achieve this, we are forming a programme committee two years prior to the conference, including planetarium professionals representing the broad range of existing institutions, space and astronomy scientists, educators, science engagement specialists, artists, and more.


Pic du Midi Observatory  

©Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees


About Toulouse

Toulouse is a very special place when it comes to space and (g)astronomy. It is the “Air and Space” European capital, representing 25% of space jobs in Europe. Therefore, Cité de l’espace is part of a rich ecosystem of space and astronomy institutions, including the headquarters of Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer, and the Toulouse Space Center, part of the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES, the French space agency).

Also here: Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space, French Weather Forecast/Météo France, and Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, which is involved with the Curiosity Rover on Mars, the Rosetta Mission, and running the Observatoire du Pic du Midi.

Since these professionals are strong partners of Cité de l’espace, they will join their forces and skills to build with the IPS conference committee a strong scientific programme. Thanks to our large network, we will also ensure that high-level keynote speakers will enrich the conference content by providing unique and new perspectives.

Toulouse is famous for air, space and astronomy, as well as atmosphere, medieval architecture, gastronomy, and “savoir-vivre.” A whole afternoon will be dedicated to the discovery of Toulouse and its area. Four different visits are planned, matching different tastes and interests, arts, science, and industry: the Medieval city of Carcasonne (a Unesco World Heritage site), 1-hour drive from Toulouse; the City of Albi and the Toulouse Lautrec Museum (Unesco World Heritage), 45-minute drive; the Old city of Toulouse and its heritage observatory of Jolimont; and the Airbus assembly chain and Aeroscopia, the brand new aeronautical museum.

A one-day post tour to the Pic du Midi Observatory, 2800-m high in the Pyrenees, will be planned. The Pic du Midi is a famous site renowned for the clarity of its sky (now protected), and where images of the moon were taken to help NASA in the choice of Apollo landing sites. There, visitors will have the chance to visit the different domes, telescopes, and coronagraphs, meet astronomers and enjoy the magnificent view of the Pyrenees.

July 2018: A special time for science in Toulouse

Logo for euroscience open forum 2018Toulouse will part of the 2018 European Capital of Scientific Culture, hosting the Euro Science Open Forum (ESOF) July 9-14. The ESOF is the sister event of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting and hosts, once every two years, more than 4,000 delegates and 400 journalists coming from more than 80 countries.

The dates of the IPS conference (July 1-6) allows interested attendees to take part in ESOF 2018, while Toulouse will be vibrant with scientific culture activities and under strong media coverage.

Avec plaisir: with pleasure

In Toulouse and its area, when saying thank you, be prepare to be greeted a typical “avec plaisir” that encapsulates the spirit of the area: joyful and friendly.

Toulouse is the capital of Midi-Pyrénées, the largest region of France. Nested between the Mediterrannen and the Atlantic at the feet of the Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain, the region enjoys great “south of France” sunny weather all year long.

A must stop when in the region, Toulouse is an intoxicating experience for visitors who fall for the colorful charms of the aptly named Ville Rose (Pink City) and its Latin personality. Toulouse is known for its innate love of celebration. From Spain, it has adopted a taste for long aperitifs with tapas on terraces, convivial meals and its many music and arts festivals.

The river in Toulouse; photo ©Ville de Toulouse

Another fundamental aspect of the Toulouse way of life is its cuisine and wines/spirits. Lovers of good food take great pleasure in savoring local produce and the city’s culinary specialties: Toulouse sausage, violet-flavored sweets, wines, and the famous cassoulet.

The IPS 2018 gala dinner will take place in one of the many red-brick heritage buildings of Toulouse: the Cloître des Jacobins, located in the heart of the city center by the Garonne river.

In this city where human warmth is always felt, visitors can enjoy a relaxed stroll or bike ride through the narrow historic s streets to explore the treasures of its architectural heritage.

Toulouse was the favorite city for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince and a pioneer in the airmail adventure. In the evening, visitors can enjoy the colored lights that illuminate Toulouse’s monuments and the banks of the Garonne River, offering a romantic walk amid a series of veritable urban frescoes.

Since our opening in 1997, we have been actively engaged in different networks, such as IPS, the Association of French Speaking Planetariums, ECSITE (the European Network of Science Centers and Museums), and IAF, the International Astronautical Federation. We have hosted the APLF conference in 2000 and the ECSITE conference in 2012, with 995 delegates. It was a great success, according to participant feedback.

We also have a strong experience in hosting corporate events, thanks to a dedicated team which organizes more than 250 events and festivals every year in our location. Will give you more information about the program, the budget, and accommodation in an upcoming Planetarian.


 Chart: 2018 conference by the numbers

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