Fountain Hills included in new Smithsonian Museum exhibit on saving night sky

Mar 16, 2023, 4:05 AM
Fountain Hills photo included in the Smithsonian’s “Lights Out” exhibition.  The Milky Way ap...
Fountain Hills photo included in the Smithsonian’s “Lights Out” exhibition. The Milky Way appears over Fountain Lake with the light dome of Greater Phoenix area in the background. (Rebecca Bloom photo/Fountain Hills Dark Sky Center)
(Rebecca Bloom photo/Fountain Hills Dark Sky Center)

PHOENIX — Fountain Hills’ night sky will be featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in a new exhibit about the global loss of the night sky to light pollution.

The 4,340-square-foot “Lights Out, Recovering Our Night Sky” exhibit will open on March 23 and run through December 2025. It aims to teach the history of lighting, the connection between humanity and the night sky, the unintended consequences of excessive outdoor lighting and more, according to a press release.

Fountain Hills and other places around the world will be showcased in different categories at the Washington D.C. museum, including the history of lighting and light pollution, the dark side of light, who needs the dark, experience the night and more.

“We are honored to have our community be one of only 13 of the more than 200 designated International Dark Sky Places around the world included in the exhibit,” Fountain Hills Mayor Ginny Dickey said in the release.

“We’re also proud of that designation given how rare that achievement is when adjacent to a major metropolitan area.”

Even with its proximity to the bright lights of Phoenix, glimpses of the Milky Way are still visible in Fountain Hills. The town was accredited by the International Dark Sky Association for efforts to limit light pollution.

The museum cited Fountain Hills as an example of a unique way people can experience the night sky in their own backyards.

“As a pilot and commander of the Space Shuttle, I’ve seen just how bright our planet is at night,” Sen. Mark Kelly said in the release. “And I’m thrilled that Fountain Hills is leading the way in showing how we can protect dark night skies while growing the Arizona economy.”

Fountain Hills has started development on a STEM-based International Dark Sky Discovery Center with plans for the largest telescope in the greater Phoenix area, a state-of-the-art planetarium and more.

The town will hold the sixth annual Fountain Hills Dark Sky Festival on March 25 off Avenue of the Fountains and Saguaro Boulevard. The festival will include live speakers, virtual reality experiences, meteorite and live nocturnal animal exhibits, food trucks, a beer and wine garden and laser tours of the night sky, according to the release.

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Fountain Hills included in new Smithsonian Museum exhibit on saving night sky