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President's Message March 2014
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A Message from President Thomas Kraupe

photo of Thomas Kraupe

March 2014

Dear Fellow Planetarians:

Gong Xi Fa Ca! That’s one of the traditional Chinese New Year greetings that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin.

On January 31, 2014 at new moon, over a billion people in China and millions in Chinatowns and Asian homes around the world celebrated the first day of the Chinese New Year. It’s the most important of Chinese holidays, kicking off a celebration that lasts for 15 days and culminates at the first full moon with the Lantern Festival.

Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2014, it’s the Year of the Horse, associated with the element wood. It is said that horses are gifted entertainers and wood stands for creative will, renewal and decisiveness. Doesn`t that sound like a perfect motivation for us planetarians/edutainers and for IPS to use our experience, join forces and make necessary changes? Indeed, 2014 is the year when IPS is making bold steps towards renewal!

 IPS officers meet in Washington
On the last weekend of January your team of officers convened in Washington D.C. to discuss further steps in our strategic planning initiative, Vision 2020, and prepare for upcoming Conferences. Although officers regularly meet on Skype, it is essential we also meet face to face for extended discussions.

Washington D.C. was chosen not only to minimize expenses (three of the five officers are based on the US east coast not too far from D.C.), but also to visit NASA Headquarters for a lunch meeting with John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, who previously served as the deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, managing the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

John is a veteran of five space shuttle flights, and visited Hubble three times during these missions. He performed eight spacewalks to service and upgrade this space observatory.

Our meeting with John and his team offered the opportunity not only to thank them for all the previous support and inspiration NASA has given to planetarians worldwide, but also allowed us to stress the importance of planetariums and IPS for NASA.

We discussed how we can continue to join forces and use resources efficiently in the future (similar to what we are currently establishing with NAOJ/JAXA, ESO/ ESA and other major research organizations).

Our meeting happened at the right time to allow for input from NASA to our Vision 2020 initiative. This could help us communicate on our domes the ever-growing variety of exciting NASA space missions, from earth observatories and robotic explorers to deep space observatories, and improve with appropriate support from NASA sources.

Among others, we identified the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for a 2018 launch, the 2m-National Reconnaissance Telescope, and the Mars 2020 rover as missions where we jointly should focus on.

Next steps will be to appoint the respective contacts, to optimize data formats for bringing NASA content to our dome (via Mark SubbaRao´s IPS Science and Data Visualization Task Force) and to review how we can gear up in public outreach and improve STEM education in schools from kindergarten through colleges. 

Steps in “Vision 2020”
Over the months following the very productive discussion of the proposed Vision 2020 Plan at the 2013 IPS Council meeting in Bolzano (South Tyrol), the IPS Officers have incorporated the suggestions of Council members and further developed details of the Vision 2020 planning process.

A schedule and budget for creating the Vision 2020 Plan have been established, along with the roles of Council, the Officers, the planning team, an advisory group, and other key individuals. We look forward to working closely with Council, all IPS members, and our external partners in the creation of the Vision 2020 Plan over the next two and a half years.

Vision 2020 will be on the agenda at the upcoming IPS Council meeting in Beijing.

At the time you read this I hope we already have the approval by IPS Council to move forward and prepare the first and important steps of Vision 2020 until IPS 2014 Conference in Beijing, offering the necessary platform to engage in this process for all of you.

Vision 2020 will be created by focusing on how best to


  • improve and increase professional development efforts that are based on research and best practices (e.g. summer schools, KAVLI Institute);
  • strengthen ties with the professional scientific community in the field of astronomy and other space sciences (e.g. ESO, NASA, ESA, NAOJ) to bring current research and discoveries to our audiences through immersive data visualization on our domes;
  • expand international collaborations in recognition of the more global nature of our Society;
  • gain greater recognition for IPS members’ efforts and results, especially as related to STEM education;
  • use the higher profile of the planetarium community gained through greater recognition and increased media attention to foster enhanced financial support; and
  • provide support and leadership in transitioning to next-generation planetarium design, technologies and content development.


The process of creating Vision 2020 must engage our younger members, who have unique perspectives and enthusiasm, as well as tap into the deep experience pool of our longer-term members.

Vision 2020 will use a format that many organizations have found helpful to clearly articulate plans and then assess progress towards their shared vision. IPS Mission, Vision, and Values Statements will be agreed upon early in the planning process, starting from existing documents and updating them to reflect changes that have occurred since they were developed and that are anticipated to occur in the decade ahead.

The Mission will state why IPS exists and what it does. The Vision will clearly articulate what IPS aspires to become in the next 10 years. The Values will be a set of beliefs that are shared among the members of IPS. Values will drive the culture of IPS, help shape priorities, and provide a framework in which decisions are made.

To support these three fundamental statements, goals will be developed to guide the work of IPS in the decade ahead. To achieve each goal, a set of objectives will be formulated.

Suggestions and input from all stakeholders will be welcomed and encouraged throughout the planning process.

The perspectives of university theaters, large stand-alone theaters, planetariums that are part of science centers or museums, portable domes, school theaters, the international community, external partners, vendors, potential new members, and the fulldome evolution that is now encompassing other sciences, arts and culture will be sought.

In a first step to facilitate this input and to guide the planning process, the IPS Officers, with input from Council, will identify and appoint a planning team of six persons. Members of this team will:


  • facilitate and coordinate input from and communications among all stakeholders throughout the planning process;
  • review and analyze input and feedback from member’s surveys, vendors, external partners, committee chairs, Council members, and Officers;
  • review existing documents and results of previous surveys;
  • examine documents from other similar organizations; and
  • lead a SWOT analysis, which is a structured planning and analysis method to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in IPS.

In order to assure continuity in this 3-year process, I asked President-elect Paul Knappenberger to chair the planning team, which will report to the IPS Officers.

To complement this team, the officers will recruit advisors to provide historical and focused perspectives on important topics that emerge in the preparations of Vision 2020.

This group will serve in an advisory capacity, not in a policy-making role. Advisors may be drawn from IPS past-presidents, external partners, and individuals with specialized knowledge and experience.

After reviewing existing members’ survey results, the planning team will formulate a new survey specifically designed to gather input for Vision 2020, which is scheduled to be sent to all members before the Beijing Conference.

This survey will be part of the SWOT analysis.

IPS Council members, along with the Officers and the committee chairs, are key to facilitating and gathering useful information in formulating the essential components of Vision 2020.

Council members will actively engage other IPS members in the planning process through the regional affiliates and standing committees. They will be responsible for reviewing and commenting in a timely manner on draft documents prepared by the planning team.

Based on this concept, the IPS Council meeting that will happen June 21-22, right before IPS2014 in Beijing, will have a specific focus on Vision 2020 and the conference itself is planned to include two interactive sessions, plus a poster session, dealing with Vision 2020 for you to actively engage in the process and collect further suggestions.

Based on all input, Vision 2020 planning will be continued, finished and results presented at IPS 2016 in Warsaw allowing us to implement the plan and initial strategies for 2017.

The Officers enthusiastically endorse this project that will provide a blueprint for IPS in the decade ahead. Get involved, be in touch with your Council representative and join us in June in Beijing! 

IPS 2014 in China
Indeed, our first IPS Conference in China is only three months away! I hope you have already registered. Our conference host Dr. Jin Zhu and his team are preparing for us a week full of fascinating discoveries and great hospitality.

You should not miss this opportunity to experience how enormously impressive China is in astronomical tradition and its dedication and appetite for education, knowledge and creativity.

Come to Beijing! The latest conference and travel updates are available through the IPS website and the respective links to the conference website. And please make sure you check with the Chinese embassy in your country to verify the necessary steps for obtaining visa for your entry into China, paying attention also to an entry via Macao or Hong Kong.

Please note that the conference also offers a number of scholarships providing some funding to support travelling and attending this IPS Conference for needy planetarians. IPS members can apply for a scholarship using the form on our IPS website (see also the conference website). But hurry up, since the deadline for applications is approaching fast—it is the end of March! You will then be notified by mid-April if your application was approved.

One of the many highlights of the Beijing Conference will occur in the two big domes of Beijing Planetarium on Wednesday evening, June 25, presentation of the winners and their programs from the IPS-Macao International Fulldome Festival, awarded in the following categories:

Best visuals

Best soundtrack

Best story

Best children’s production

Best 3D

Best 8K

Best educational production*

Best planetarian choice

Best produce choice

Best audience choice

Best technology advancement

(* Will also receive a prize of US $2,000 from the Eugenides Foundation, arranged through IPS)

The Fulldome Festival will be held at the impressive Macao Science Center on June 18-21 as one of the pre-conference events. Plan for extra days in China to attend not only this festival in Macao, but also to visit nearby Hong Kong Space Museum and its awesome astronomy park.

Our IPS website has more information about IPS 2014 and several options for pre- and post-conference tours. Please make sure that your passport and visa will be appropriate for entry and re-entry into the respective territories on these dates! 

Bids for hosting IPS 2018
Council voted last year that the IPS 2016 Conference will be hosted by the Copernikus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland.

And now is the time to look even further ahead and consider to host IPS 2018. Bids for 2018 will be accepted until June 21, the start of the Council meeting prior to the 2014 conference in Beijing.

Candidates for IPS 2014 elections
The call for nominations for president elect, secretary and treasurer for 2015-2016 is out.

Martin George, chair of the Elections Committee, is keen to receive nominations, which can be sent to him at

Nominations also will also be received from the floor at the 2014 IPS Conference in Beijing, China.

The IPS election process is your chance, as a member, to have your say in who you would like to see filling these important positions, and how the IPS is run.

The terms of office for secretary and treasurer are two years each, but the office of president elect is followed by two years as president in 2017-2018 and two years as past president in 2019-2020.

If You are interested in standing for one of these positions, or are considering nominating someone, feel free to contact Martin if you would like to discuss the duties of IPS Officers. More information also can be found on the IPS website on the IPS Election Committee page. 

IPS career center
The IPS website——is your gateway to the planetarium world!

Among other goodies, it includes a career center, where IPS members can post jobs and search for jobs. Go to the website, sign in (upper right corner of home page), and click on Career Center in the left navigation menu.

Contact IPS Webmaster Alan Gould at if you have any further questions. The Career Center will be developed further in the upcoming months by the brand new IPS Planetarium Construction and

Operation Committee chaired by Ian McLennan in order to give examples of typical job profiles in the planetarium field, which will be helpful for those staffing planetariums in the future. 

Survive the Nian!
The upcoming months are very busy times for all of us with many regional planetarium conferences and festivals around the globe.

Many challenges lie ahead of us. Being a planetarian is not always easy, but we are moving forward still because we are passionate about what we are doing and despite all we have to go through, in the end we are rewarded: by the happy faces of kids and adults when they leave our domes.

So, I greet you “Guo Nian.” With these words, which mean “survive the Nian,” villagers in China greet each other on the first day of the new year. Actively working together, hanging red paper decorations in their homes and setting off firecrackers on the last night of the year, they managed to keep Nian away.

Nian is an ugly bloodthirsty monster that would emerge on the last night of each year to devastate villages. This tradition has continued to this day, with Guo Nian now meaning “celebrate the new year.”

“Guo Nian” to you. Let us join forces to survive all the challenges ahead in this year so we all can celebrate! See you in Macao and Beijing in June!

As always, onwards and upwards!

Thomas W. Kraupe

President, International Planetarium Society Inc.
Director, Planetarium Hamburg
Planetarium Hamburg,Otto-Wels-Str. 1, D-22303 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 (40) 4288652-21 | iPhone: +49 (172) 4086133 | Fax: +49 (40) 427924850 |
skype: tomkraupe


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