A town in Arizona known for having one of the tallest man-made fountains in the world may soon be getting international attention for a second reason.
Plans have now been announced for the construction of an $18 million combined observatory and planetarium in Fountain Hills, some 31 miles to the northeast of Phoenix, that will also include a theater and large telescope.
What is being called the International Dark Skies Discovery Center will go up in downtown Fountain Hills on land donated by the town near the public Centennial Circle, which also includes a community center and museum.
The 15,000 square foot center will also include an exhibit hall with interactive displays and exhibits. The planetarium will feature immersive digital technology, while the theater will have 150 tiered-seats, using 8K projection technology.
Three years ago Fountain Hills was designated as a dark sky community by the Tucson-based International Dark Sky Association. That designation, now given to some 130 places around the world, recognizes localities that have made significant efforts to preserve the night sky through a reduction of light pollution.
A fund-raising drive to build the Dark Skies Discovery Center, which has been in the talking stage for the last several years, has now been launched.
While a timetable for the drive as not been revealed, it is expected that once the needed support is secured, it will take around 2 years to fully design and build the facility.
By Garry Boulard
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