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Fundraising begins to build observatory in Fountain Hills

PHOENIX — A new place to view the stars and galaxies above could soon become a reality with the announcement of an $18 million capital campaign to build a space facility in Fountain Hills that would house the largest telescope in greater Phoenix.

The 15,000 square-foot International Dark Sky Discovery Center would feature a dark sky observatory sporting a large, research-grade telescope that can be used for visual observing, astrophotography and live broadcasts, according to a press release Wednesday.

A hyperspace planetarium, 150-seat inspiration theatre featuring 8K projection technology and a 3,000 square-foot immersion zone with interactive educational displays would also part of the non-profit facility located in the Town Center.

The project will be privately funded by International Dark Sky Discovery Center, according to the release, and focus on growing STEM opportunities while serving as an international attraction for the Valley.

People can donate to the project on the online.

“By inspiring individuals and organizations to fund this exciting endeavor, we will fulfill International Dark Sky Discovery Center’s vision to inspire, educate, and stir imaginations to cultivate a greater understanding of our dark skies, our planet, and the universe,” Joe Bill, president of International Dark Sky Discovery Center, said in the release.

Ted Blank, vice president of the organization and NASA solar system ambassador said in the release the facility will offer public viewing to “present breathtaking views of the moon, planets, nebula, galaxies, and other stellar objects.”

Partnerships will also be fostered with Arizona State University, local community colleges and high schools, according to the official website.

“The International Dark Sky Discovery Center is an exciting opportunity for students and amateur star-gazers alike,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in the release. “The center will be another tremendous asset to keep our state at the forefront of STEM education.”

The announcement of the capital campaign coincides with the three-year anniversary of Fountain Hills being designated as one of 17 dark sky communities in the world, a rare feat for a town located so close to a metropolitan area, according to the release.

Other dark sky communities in Arizona are Oak Creek, Sedona and Flagstaff.

A coffee shop, outdoor patio and gift shop featuring an assortment of merchandise related to astronomy, space and dark skies will also be part of the facility.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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