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The International Year of Astronomy in Germany: The Role of Planetaria. CAP 2007 Athens October 8 th , 2007. Susanne Hüttemeister Planetarium Bochum and Astronomical Institute, Bochum University. The Structure of German Astronomy. Professional Astronomy. Rat deutscher Sternwarten (RdS)

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the international year of astronomy in germany the role of planetaria
The International Year ofAstronomy in Germany:The Role of Planetaria

CAP 2007


October 8th, 2007

Susanne Hüttemeister

Planetarium Bochum


Astronomical Institute, Bochum University

the structure of german astronomy
The Structure of German Astronomy

Professional Astronomy

Rat deutscher Sternwarten (RdS)

- Council of German Observatories

37 member institutes (voting members: directors)

- Universities

- Max-Planck-Institutes

- State observatories

Current president: Prof. Dieter Reimers, Hamburg

Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG)

- Astronomical Society

About 800 individual members, most German

professional astronomers, a few teachers/amateurs

Current president: Prof. Gerhard Hensler, Vienna

Complicated structure, responsibilities not always clear,

e.g.: AG has no budget to finance any IYA activity, is not

entirely a German organisation…

the amateurs
The amateurs

Current registry (probably incomplete):

148 astronomy clubs and public observatories in Germany

Umbrella organisation

Vereinigung der Sternfreunde

‚Association of Friends of Astronomy‘

~ 4000 individual and institutional members

in principle excellent resources


● 18 sections, some very active

e.g. meteors, comets, deep sky, planets, sun,

spectroscopy, stellar occultations, variables…

● A journal

● Organisation of national ‚Astronomy Day‘

… with very mixed success

Problem: Without exceptions volunteers with

other obligations

the iya 2009 preparations
The IYA 2009: Preparations

Many ideas and plans in various states of completeness

● RdS – appointed ‚Single Point of Contact‘ resigned –

- Replacement will be found very soon (urgently needed)

● Astronomical Society:

- Only coordinating role is possible

- Idea (Committee for the Teaching of Astronomy):

Encourage all professional institutes to approach local schools

and do ‚Astronomy weeks‘, use schools as addtitional

multipliers (see poster Scorza for great examples)

● VdS (amateurs) are acknowlegded as very important partners

by the professionals, but may lack coordination

● Popular Astronomy Journals (three major ones exist) may

be important partners

● Planetaria : Joint effort planned

national structure
National Structure?

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

declares national ‚Scince Years‘

International Year of

Physics 2005

in Germany ‚Einstein Year‘ was a very

successful example

2009 may be ‚Year of Light‘

(probably not ‚Year of Astronomy‘),

but subject is related: Inclusion

in infrastructure (and financial

support) seems possible and is

highly desirable


Joint planetarium programm 2005:

Trial run for the IAY 2009?

planetaria in germany
Planetaria in Germany

Yet another council:

RdP ‚Rat deutscher Planetarien‘

- Council of German planetaria

  • 24 members (3 in Austria)
  • at least one full-time staff member
  • - at least 10000 visitors/year


Berlin -







Operated by:

● most often cities,

directly or indirectly

● sometimes astronomy


● rarely universites

● sometimes museums

Commercial operation

usually not possible,

Public financial support


No ‚standard‘ structure

About as many non-RdP

small planetaria (often

in the former GDR)

Often in difficult financial




Roughly 2 million vistors per year (1.6 – 1.95 Millionen 2002 – 2006)

Fairly constant

● Hamburg (~ 340000)


● Cottbus (~ 19000)

  • By far the most visited locations
  • of astronomical outreach and
  • education


  • Obvious important
  • participant in
  • IAY 2007
heterogeneous technology
Heterogeneous Technology…

Optomechanical Projektors

So far: The vast majority

This will change in the

next 10 years, but not

till 2009

Full Dome Video Systems

(plus optomechanical projectors)

So far: 4 RdP planetaria

A joint programm must work on both systems!

Possible, but requires flexibility and ‚good will‘

and philosophy
… and Philosophy

Large planetarium

(20m-dome, 200 – 300 seats,

8 in Germany)

Small planetaria

(~ 60 seats)

- Often preproduced shows

- Technically advanced

- (Sometimes) truly immersive

- But perceived as ‚movies‘ by visitors,

no ‚personal‘ touch

- Many live programmes

- ‚charming‘ and

individual, but limited


plans for a iya cooperation
Plans for a IYA cooperation

Goal: A joint planetarium show for all German

language planetaria

Joint nationwide promotion

very high visibility

Spring 2007:

European Space Agency

approaches RdP

Intent: ● Production (by ESA) of planetarium show for IYA

● ESA missions featured, but no ‚ESA commercial‘

● Advancing consciousness of European astronomy

● Emotional impact, spirit of discovery

● Almost all RdP planetaria signal interest

● Working groups (content / visualisation) constituted

● Content group met several times – storyboard developped

to multiwavelength space astronomy
…to Multiwavelength Space Astronomy


Missions Herschel and Planck

The depth of time and space

and planetary exploration
… and Planetary Exploration

Focus on

present and


teaching material and an exhibition
Teaching material and an exhibition

Material for schools and

a travelling exhibition

should accompany the


Teaching material: ESA

Leader of the exhibition part

of the project:

Planetarium Laupheim

(experienced in designing


will it happen


Will it happen?


Potential problem(s)




● Individualistic nature of

German planetaria (and

large number of different

internal structures) makes

cooperation difficult




● ESA requires

significant financial

contribution from

all participating


Crucial RdP meeting:

November 5th,

Committment required

shortly thereafter

an additional focus light pollution
An additional focus: Light pollution

German initiative led

by Andreas Hänel

(Planetarium and

science museum


● Museum-quality


● Public events

Light pollution map of central Europe

think global act local
Think global – act local?

IYA in Germany

Despite (hopefully)

common planetarium


  • Success will very
  • likely depend on
  • many local activities
  • Professional institutes
  • - Planetaria
  • Schools
  • Astronomy clubs
  • - Individuals

National umbrella probably limited

to information / coordination