Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills moving closer to reality

Apr 5, 2022, 9:56 AM | Updated: Apr 6, 2022, 11:00 am
(International Dark Sky Discovery Center Rendering) (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Rendering) (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Rendering) (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Graphic) (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Rendering) (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Rendering) PlaneWave telescope (International Dark Sky Discovery Center Photo)

PHOENIX – Plans for the International Dark Sky Discovery Center, which will house the Phoenix area’s largest telescope, are coming into focus.

The center announced Tuesday that the conceptual design has been completed and construction is on track to begin in November.

“This brings us much closer to creating an international centerpiece that will inspire future scientists and people of all ages to understand how important dark skies are for the well-being of humans, plants, and animals and for opening the window to the observable universe,” Joe Bill, the project’s president, said in a press release.

The 22,000-square-foot venue in Fountain Hills will feature four major components: a 20.5-foot domed observatory with a 27.5-inch PlaneWave telescope; the 60-seat Hyperspace Planetarium; the 150-seat Inspiration Theater with 8K projection; and the Immersion Zone, a section for interactive exhibits.

Scottsdale-based architectural firm Swaback designed the facility, which will be built by McCarthy Building Companies. McCarthy’s previous work includes OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale and the ASU Biodesign Institute in Tempe.

St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations will create exhibits for the Valley attraction. PGAV Destinations’ portfolio includes exhibits designed for the Kennedy Space Center and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Plans for the $18 million project were unveiled in 2019, and fundraising started in 2021. The state appropriated $2.5 million to the International Dark Sky Discovery Center in the 2021 budget.

In 2018, Fountain Hills was designated as the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community after years of work to reduce light pollution in the town east of Scottsdale.

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Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills moving closer to reality