Fountain Hills, Arizona, with the distinction of being the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community and its proximity to a major metropolitan area, is an ideal location for the IDSDC from both a functional and sustainability perspective. Its dark skies support the observatory related activities of the facility while the population in excess of four million people living in the Greater Phoenix area helps ensure the project’s sustainability.
The IDSDC will be located in the Town Center. The Town demonstrated its strong support for the IDSDC with the Council’s unanimous vote to approve the leasing of a site on Town property at a nominal annual fee. This area is a hub for institutions that attract visitors, thus offering synergistic and integrated marketing opportunities
The adjacent entities include the Community Center, Fountain Hills Library, River of Time Museum, Fountain Hills Community Garden, Town Hall, and a sculpture garden. Fountain Hills is fortunate to have one of the darkest night skies of any community near a major metropolitan area. We are shielded from the nightglow of the Phoenix metro area by the McDowell Mountains to the west. Having the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to the south, McDowell Mountain Regional Park to our north, and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and Tonto National Forest to our east all help protect our dark skies.
A number of residents have moved to Fountain Hills because of its dark skies. The local astronomy club has over 500 people on its mailing list and coordinates regular star parties. One of its founding members donated three telescopes to the Fountain Hills Library to be available for checkout, which led to a national award for the library. The community takes pride in its night skies and its designation as an International Dark Sky Community, as denoted by the entrance signs to the community. Because of the dark skies and significant astronomy-related activity, there is great community interest in the construction of an International Dark Sky Discovery Center.