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IPS 2018 - Counting down to Toulouse
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IPS2018 Conference:

la cité de L’espace se prépare

and Toulouse is waiting for you!


By The 24th Congress Organising Team

Marc Moutin

Véronique Hallard


Taken from the June 2017 Planetarian
Vol. 45, No. 2 
pages 10-13


IPS2018 LogoThe countdown for the preparations for the 24th Congress of the International Planetarium Society, which will be held at Cité de l’espace 1-5 July, 2018, really started more than a year ago in Toulouse. Now we are nearly half way completed with our launch, and are happy to share with you some of the exciting events we have planned and renovations that are underway.


The conference will be preceded by the IPS Fulldome Festival, which will be held contiguously for the first time, 27-29 June. This allows for IPS members who want to attend the Fulldome Festival to arrive several days early, then have a weekend to explore and enjoy Toulouse and the surrounding area before the conference begins.


The weekend between the two events also will be devoted to the IPS Council meeting.


Together, with the post-conference tours, there is the possibility of an 11-day adventure that we can experience together.


Warsaw gave us enthusiasm

The whole IPS2018 team went to Warsaw to attend the fine 2016 Conference organised by the Copernicus Science Center and chaired by President Joanne Young with the support of the IPS council, sponsors, partners, and, of course, the participants.


Enthused by this visit and with feedback the organisers shared with us, as well as by the valuable assistance of current IPS President and Conference Chair Shawn Laatsch, we are now more than ready to give you our best welcome. That’s what we’re committed to do, “avec plaisir” and motivation, now that the countdown shows that we’re half-way towards this rendezvous!

The internet site is up and running


Progress is good in terms of the overall organisation of the event. Our Internet site,, accessible in both English and French, has been online for a few months, filled with helpful information for your visit. We are adding to it as we go along and update it regularly, so be sure to check it frequently.


We particularly invite you to take a look with our little rocket, specially designed for IPS2018: Cité de l’espace requires it!


For this website, as with all organisational matters, we rely on the experience, professionalism, and leadership of Hélène Boyer, a Professional Congress Organizer (PCO). All logistical questions, such as how to register for the congress or about booking hotels near Cité de l’espace, will be handled by Hélène and her team at this address:


Among the tools the PCO is setting up, congress-goers will have access to a smartphone application that will allow them to access a dynamic programme of the congress in real-time, live access to the themes of the sessions, abstracts, biographies of the keynote speakers, and contact with the various presenters. This application will enable everyone to create and organise freely and with ease their personal programme before and throughout the four days of the conference, and communicate effectively with other participants.


Sponsors previewed the site

On 20-21 March, 2017, we hosted some of the future conference sponsors. After an exhaustive tour of the entire site, but principally our two planetariums, we took their comments into consideration when we modified the conference programme.

By cross-referencing them with all the other parameters of the congress, we made changes, which you can see now on the conference website under the Programme tab. The 10 hours of demonstrations under the domes (purple blocks in the table) are mainly grouped in half-days, to ease technical set-ups and presentation rehearsals.


Shawn Laatsch stressed the benefits of sharing, as far as possible, the sponsor’s technical equipment and encouraging classic presentations in the large IMAX hall (300 seats), which will be set up in conference configuration.


There will be 54 sessions (green blocks in the table), 15 of which will be under the domes. The size of rooms for sessions is variable, ranging from 300, 150, 70, to 25 seats to give a range of different session formats to live up to the theme which Cité de l’espace chose for this 24th edition: “PLANETARIUM LIVE, in and outside the dome.”


Nine themes selected

The Programme Committee was set up for that a few weeks ago, as well as the nine themes selected:

  • Education
  • Live! Under the dome
  • Live! Outside the dome
  • Technology
  • Dome content: fulldome
  • Portable planetariums
  • Planetarium design
  • Planetarium management
  • Professional development

On that point, please take notice that, unlike previous editions of the IPS conference, the call for abstracts for papers and workshops is scheduled very early, i.e. more than a year before the congress. The period for submissions just opened on 1 June, and the deadline is 27 September.

Abstract submission: /


It is our desire to encourage participants to create interactive sessions by sharing experiences on similar themes and involving the audience as much as possible in dynamic and innovative formats.


The Programme Committee will examine the proposals at the Pleiades Conference in next October in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA. Accepted papers and workshops will be confirmed in December, 2017 to allow 6 months for discussion and preparation.


The planetarium gets a new look

At the same time as we are setting up and organizing this conference, we are in the middle of renovating our large 20m planetarium. Cité de l’espace has two domes: this large one and a smaller one of 15m.


Planetarium under construction

The planetarium under constructions. Photo c. Pascal Preiur


After 12 years in operation and more than 3 million visitors using its equipment, this renewal of Planetarium was vital to restore it to the cutting edge of technology and present the latest astronomical discoveries to the public in exceptional conditions. This operation was made possible thanks to investment by Toulouse Metropole, the owner of Cité de l’espace.


At the heart of this renewal lies the SkyExplorer 4 astronomy simulation software by RSA Cosmos, combined with the deployment of the latest laser video projection technologies, delivering better definition and more saturated, deeper colours. Thanks to ten 4K video-projectors all around the hall, projection on the 600m² dome screen will have a “true 8K” resolution.


To complement the unique projection system, the hall’s sound system will be totally renewed with a new set of loudspeakers all around the dome screen. As a comparison with existing 5.1 home cinema systems with 5 channels, front, back, left, right and centre with a bass sub-woofer, the planetarium system has an 11.8 architecture, i.e. 11 channels to deliver an innovative soundstage for totally wraparound sound to improve the total immersion of the spectator.


One final innovation to give the visitor a new experience: all 280 chairs will be equipped with voting boxes, enabling the public to have real-time interaction at certain points of the show and thus be actors as well as spectators. The wealth of possibilities of this response system will eventually lead to customised sessions of the visitors’ choice. It also has great educational potential and will be in operation during educational programmes to test students’ understanding and then inform follow-up programmes depending on progress observed or the expectations expressed.


We will use these boxes as part of our event to vote on the Fulldome Festival films, but above all, we are counting on you to try out this interactive installation, which is unique in France!


Beyond the new modern and comfortable chairs, with inclined backrests to give a perfect view of the whole image on the dome-screen, the screen itself will be completely renewed with a deep clean to both sides and a freshly painted internal surface. All floors, decoration, and mood lighting in the hall will also be renewed, to meet the requirements of the public, including disabled users.


It is important to mention that this investment by Toulouse Metropole also includes a technical upgrade for the 15m planetarium with the integration of the SkyExplorer4 software powerful computers and auto calibration system to make it fully compatible with the planetarium for pooling of production and animation work on both facilities.


Please note that the central area which housed the old simulator will be empty during Congress, allowing optomechanical systems to be installed with ease.


A little tour of the social events

We are also making progress in preparing for you some quality fun time on the fringe of the congress itself. The gala dinner which will close IPS2018 is already planned for the magnificent Cloître des Jacobins: the cloister of a former 12-13th century convent at the heart of Toulouse’s old town, which has preserved a church which is unique of its type: it has a double nave ended by a very unusual column called the “palmier” (a palm tree). Please note that this unique space, which rarely opens its doors for private occasions, has a limited capacity, so book your seat when you register for the conference!

Cloitre des Jacobins. Photo c. P. Nin


Cloitre des Jacobins

On the Wednesday evening Cité de l’espace itself invites you to enjoy its facilities: the gardens where there will be buffets near the space exhibits (the Russian MIR station, the Ariane 5 rocket, the XMM satellite) as well as near our small astronomical observatory with its 400mm telescope.


You also will enjoy the permanent exhibitions, where you can find out all about space; the temporary exhibition “Astronauts,” to share our pride in having, as we write, our 10th French astronaut in space, Thomas Pesquet.


This friendly evening also will be the chance to screen the three prize-winning films of the Fulldome Festival and take the traditional group photo before we dance the night away. We have fond and vivid memories of the DJ in Warsaw last year!


We are also in the process of setting up one of the post-conference Tours to the Pic du Midi observatory in the mountainous massif of the Pyrenees. The Pic du Midi public facilities are being overhauled, incorporating the installation of a planetarium (Europe’s highest, at 2,877m), which will have been open for only a few months by the time of the conference. You will have the pleasure of exploring it at the same time as the regular scientific facilities, operated by L’Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, one of our partners.


Read more at [defunct URL]


This observatory is unique in France as construction started in 1873 (using donkey power!) on one of the finest panoramas of the Pyrenean chain. In 1963, NASA financed the installation of a 106cm telescope, used to take detailed photographs of the lunar surface as part of the preparations for the Apollo missions.


International Dark Sky Reserve

Nowadays, the Pic du Midi is registered as an International Dark Sky Reserve to protect the observatory from light pollution. Could this be a chance to discuss this important subject in a session?


This tour will complement the historical tour of the City of Toulouse, which will include, amongst other things, the exploration of the Observatory of Jolimont—the second in France after Paris—which was built shortly before the Pic du Midi Observatory.


Toulouse, a city which nowadays is oriented towards aeronautics (thanks to Airbus and its commercial aircraft and Defence and Space facilities) and is proud to host the IPS congress and, shortly thereafter, the EuroScience Open Forum: the biggest interdisciplinary meeting on science and innovation in Europe. More than 4,000 delegates and 400 journalists from 80 different countries are expected to attend. 


Toulouse, the “Ville Rose,” will have the title “European City of Science” for 2018 and bring this forum to France for the first time. We are looking at ways to create links between the two events. We will tell you more in a coming article or newsletter!

Register to receive the newsletter from our website, and follow us on the conference Facebook page to keep yourself updated:

We are delighted to be sharing this major event with you as it is coming together. We hope that many of you will come and enjoy the conference, Toulouse and the area!

A bientôt ! I

1-5 July, 2018


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