The International Planetarium Society, Inc. (IPS) is the global association of planetarium professionals. Its nearly 700 members come from 35 countries around the world. They represent schools, colleges and universities, museums, and public facilities of all sizes, including both fixed and portable planetariums. The primary goal of the IPS is to encourage the sharing of ideas among its members through conferences, publications, and networking. By sharing their insights and creative work, IPS members become better planetarians.

IPS membership is open to anyone interested in planetariums. Members include directors, teachers, technicians, writers, artists, media specialists, digital artists and producers, presenters, vendors, scientists, students, and sponsors and friends of the planetarium dome and its starry sky.

More than 20 regional and national planetarium associations from around the world are affiliated with IPS. Representatives from those affiliates, together with the elected officers, make up the Executive Council, the ruling body of the organization.



Affiliate Website
Association of Brazilian Planetariums (ABP)
Association of Dutch Speaking Planetariums (PLANed)
Association of French-Speaking Planetariums (APLF)
Association of Mexican Planetariums (AMPAC)
Association of Spanish Planetariums (APLE)
Australasian Planetarium Society (APS)
British Association of Planetaria (BAP)
Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC)
Chinese Planetarium Society (CPS)
European/Mediterranean Planetarium Association (EMPA)
Italian Association of Planetaria (IAP)
Japan Planetarium Association (JPA)
Nordic Planetarium Association (NPA)
Russian Planetarium Association (RPA)
Society of the German-Speaking Planetariums (GDP)
United States: Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA)
United States: Great Plains Planetarium Association (GPPA)
United States: Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society (MAPS)
United States: Pacific Planetarium Association (PPA)
United States: Rocky Mountain Planetarium Association (RMPA)
United States: Southeastern Planetarium Association (SEPA)
United States: Southwestern Association of Planetariums (SWAP)


IPS members receive the quarterly journal Planetarian; attend biennial conferences on even-numbered years; receive conference proceedings, and special publications. Member-only benefits are available through the IPS website at, where interested persons also can join.


Planetarian is the IPS quarterly membership journal and an important member benefit. In addition to regular features and columnists, it seeks research articles on any aspect of planetarium education (that will be professionally reviewed upon request), the history of planetariums, technological developments, and much more.

Also available:


Elected officers are president, president-elect, past-president, secretary, and treasurer. The officers, along with representatives from the affiliate organizations, make up the Executive Council, the ruling body of the organization.

The current executive officers are:

  • President, Mark SubbaRao
  • President-Elect, Kaoru Kimura
  • Past President, Shawn Laatsch
  • Secretary, Ann Bragg
  • Treasurer, Patty Seaton

All positions are volunteer.


The genesis of what was to become the International Planetarium Society began with a meeting of planetarium educators in 1958 at the Cranbrook Institute in Michigan. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), about 100 delegates from 67 facilities attended. The conference's proceedings were published as Planetaria and Their Uses for Education.

Another meeting was sponsored by the NSF in 1960, this time in Cleveland, Ohio, and resulted in Planetariums and Their Uses for Education, Volume 2. At this meeting those attending voted to initiate a national planetarium association called the American Association of Planetarium Operators, but nothing came out of the action.

Regional associations of planetarium educators formed in the 1960s, resulting in the forming of GLPA, MAPS, SWAP, PPA, RMPA, and SWAP, and PAC was formed in Canada.

More than 300 planetarians gathered in 1970 at the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University in East Lansing at a meeting called CAPE - the Conference of Planetarium Educators. At this meeting the decision was made to organize a North American planetarium association and publish a journal. By-laws for the International Society of Planetarium Educators were approved in 1971, and the journal, Planetarian, began in 1972. Paul Engle from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Planetarium became the first president, and the first editor was Frank C. Jettner from the Department of Astronomy at the State University of New York at Albany. Among the articles in the first issue was "Science and Communication" by Isaac Asimov.

Early PlanetariansEdit

The planetarium field's earliest members were those who invented and modified the equipment used to project the stars onto the dome. Among them are

  • Walther Bauersfeld, often called the "father" of planetariums, for his development of the Zeiss 1 model opto-mechanical projector in 1923
  • Armand Spitz, who developed an early inexpensive opto-mechanical projector
  • Richard H. Emmons, who helped establish more than 23 planetariums


The highest award given by IPS is the Service Award, started in 1982. This award is bestowed, from time to time, by the Society upon an individual or institution whose presence and work in the planetarium field has been, through the years, an inspiration to the profession and its members.” Since 1982 there have been 24 people[3] awarded with the IPS Service Award.

Similarly, the IPS Technology and Innovation Award is given by the Society, from time to time, upon an individual whose technology and/or innovations in the planetarium field have been, through the years, used or replicated by other members and/or other planetariums.” The award began in 2009 and 6 persons[4] have been recognized.

Deserving IPS members also may be named a Fellow of the Society. To be named, a member must have continuous active membership in good standing in IPS for at least five years and substantial contributions in at least two of the following respects:

  • Serving IPS in effective office, diligent and/or devoted committee work, and the organization of conferences and meetings.
  • Relevant and significant publications and/or conference presentations.
  • Cooperation with professional societies, organizations and groups which bring attention to the importance of planetariums’ existence.
  • The development of new methods in the planetarium field.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Historical Aspects of the International Planetarium Society," Paul R. Engle, Planetarian, Vol. 11 No. 2
  2. ^ "A Forty-year Perspective of the International Planetarium Society," Dave Weinrich, Proceedings of the 47th Annual GLPA Conference in Champaign, Illinois, October 19–22, 2011
  3. ^
  4. ^

External linksEdit