“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
– Neal DeGrasse Tyson
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 of nearly five 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 for 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, Community Garden, Town Hall, and one of the largest public art collections in the Southwest.
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.
Many residents have moved to Fountain Hills because of dark skies. The local astronomy club has over 600 people on its mailing list and coordinates regular star parties. One of its founding members donated three telescopes to the Fountain Hills Library, which are available for checkout. This 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.