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
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
IPS officers meet
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.
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
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).
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
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);
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;
international collaborations in recognition of the more global nature of our
- gain greater
recognition for IPS members’ efforts and results, especially as related to STEM
- use the higher
profile of the planetarium community gained through greater recognition and
increased media attention to foster enhanced financial support; and
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
input from all stakeholders will be welcomed and encouraged throughout the
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
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
- review and analyze
input and feedback from member’s surveys, vendors, external partners, committee
chairs, Council members, and Officers;
existing documents and results of previous surveys;
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
this team, the officers will recruit advisors to provide historical and focused
perspectives on important topics that emerge in the preparations of Vision
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
(* Will also
receive a prize of US $2,000 from the Eugenides Foundation, arranged through
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
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.
IPS 2014 elections
The call for
nominations for president elect, secretary and treasurer for 2015-2016 is out.
chair of the Elections Committee, is keen to receive nominations, which can be
sent to him at email@example.com.
will also be received from the floor at the 2014 IPS Conference in Beijing,
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
website—www.ips-planetarium.org—is your gateway to the planetarium world!
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.
Webmaster Alan Gould at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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!
months are very busy times for all of us with many regional planetarium
conferences and festivals around the globe.
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!