Paradise Valley values minimizing excessive artificial light at night. This effort has been mirrored in Fountain Hills with the anticipated International Dark Sky Discovery Center that is currently in the works.
Paradise Valley resident Mark Dewane stated in a press release, “I am thankful for the work of Paradise Valley leaders who have enacted a common-sense outdoor lighting ordinance that minimizes unnecessary excessive glare. It’s why we can still see some constellations within the city limits of Paradise Valley.”
In 2018, Fountain Hills, with similar lighting ordinances, earned the prestigious designation of International Dark Sky Community, the 17th in the world. This is something very rare so close to a major metropolitan area, the release explained.
The community sometimes refers to itself as a Dark Sky Oasis in the Valley of the Sun.
Currently, volunteer leaders in Fountain Hills are working to do much more than just resting on the laurels of the dark sky designation, the release detailed. They are on their way to creating a 23,000-square-foot International Dark Sky Discovery Center.
Four major components are planned for the IDSDC: Dark Sky Observatory with the largest telescope in the Greater Phoenix Area; Hyperspace Planetarium with digital immersive technology; Inspiration Theater with 8K projection; and Immersion Zone with interactive experiential exhibits.
“Fountain Hills is the perfect location for the IDSDC,” said Ted Blank, IDSDC vice president and NASA Solar System ambassador, in the release. “As an International Dark Sky Community, it’s relatively dark skies will enable the observatory to actually conduct research in addition to offering public viewing.”
The nonprofit 501(c)3 IDSDC will be a STEM science-based facility that focuses on the importance of dark sky preservation.
However, the release stated it’s not just about seeing more stars. The mission is also to inspire future scientists and people of all ages to understand how important dark skies are for the well-being of humans, plants and animals.
Courtesy International Dark Sky Discovery Center
According to the release, few people fully recognize the adverse impact of excessive artificial light at night on human health and nocturnal animals and pollinators.
“I have been following this project closely,” said Paradise Valley resident Dr. Marc Rosen. “There is no question in my mind that the IDSDC won’t just be a Fountain Hills attraction, but rather an important international attraction for our state that will encourage the public’s interest in the fascinating science of astronomy.”
“The IDSDC is a $25 million project and our website homepage has an amazing three-minute narrated 3D flyover of the facility,” said Joe Bill, IDSDC board president, said in the release. “Detailed design by our outstanding design partners Swaback Architecture, McCarthy Building Companies and PGAV Destinations is nearly completed. We are working very hard to reach our fundraising goal and are already over one-third of the way.”
Leaders from throughout the state recognize the value that the IDSDC brings to Arizona.
The IDSDC website homepage “darkskycenter.org” lists support statements from Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, Congressman David Schweikert, former Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona State University president Dr. Michael Crow, GPEC CEO Chris Camacho and many more.
“Donations and pledges are bringing this project to life,” said Bill. “We recently added a new pledge program and already a private individual pledged $1 million. Also, naming rights opportunities are still available for those who wish to play a major role.”
Bill added, “The future is ours to create, and the next generation is ours to inspire, so let’s do this.”