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Phoenix suburb to build $18M Dark Sky Discovery Center

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PHOENIX – The future of the night got a little bit brighter in suburban Phoenix, where a community showed off plans for a proposed dark sky center.

Fundraising will be getting underway for Fountain Hills’ 15,000-square-foot International Dark Sky Discovery Center, an organizer told a group this week at a public meeting.

“We’re pretty excited about it, as you can well imagine,” Joe Bill, co-chair of the town’s Dark Sky Association, said Wednesday evening.

Documents on the center’s website showed the center would have four main elements: an observatory with a research-grade telescope; a planetarium, a theater; and an interactive exhibit hall.

The center would also include a lobby and a private courtyard, Bill said.

The town east of Scottsdale is best known for its 560-foot high fountain but last year became the fourth dark sky community in the state and the only one outside of northern Arizona.

Bill said fundraising efforts would focus on major sponsors, but individuals donors were also welcome.

“If we don’t have signs of good (fundraising) progress in two years, then maybe it’s not meant to be, but we hope we get lucky,” Bill said. A portion of the meeting was posted on social media.

“Once you get a couple major donors on board … all of a sudden it starts happening.”

Dark Sky cities only use light fixtures that shield the actual bulb. The city does not allow bright white lights — LED or otherwise — and instead requires the use of warm lighting.

The other designated Dark Sky communities in Arizona are Oak Creek, Sedona and Flagstaff.

Fountain Hills began to make changes to its lighting policies three years ago to preserve the scenic night views.

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