The International Dark Sky Discovery Center is receiving a big boost in moving the plan forward with a $2.5 million allocation in the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
With the $2.5 million in the state budget allocated to the International Dark Sky Discovery Center (IDSDC), the project enters Phase Two: detailed architectural design of this state-of-the-art, science-based facility, according to IDSDC President Joe Bill.
“Our entire board is deeply grateful for Representative John Kavanagh’s tireless efforts on our behalf,” Bill said. “By working to inform his legislative colleagues how the IDSDC will be a state-wide asset, he secured funding support that will enable us to advance to Phase Two.”
With this funding, private donations, and the town’s commitment of a building site, 25 percent of the necessary funds to complete the project have been raised, according to Bill. The IDSDC board is seeking additional funds to support the capital campaign to reach full completion. For information on name recognition opportunities and giving levels, visit the website at darkskycenter.org.
The non-profit IDSDC, 15,000-square-foot facility will have four distinct educational attractions. One is a Dark Sky Observatory with the largest telescope in the Greater Phoenix area.
Ted Blank, the IDSDC vice president and NASA Solar System Ambassador, is particularly excited about the observatory.
“We will offer public viewing to present breathtaking views of the moon, planets, nebula, galaxies, and other stellar objects,” Blank said. “We will also have astrophotography, research, and broadcast capabilities.”
Interactive and mixed reality experiential and educational learning opportunities will be provided by the other three major IDSDC components: A Hyperspace Planetarium, an Inspiration Theater and an Immersion Zone.
The facility will be located on the south side of Centennial Circle.
“One of the high points of my mayoral career,” said Linda Kavanagh, “was facilitating the Dark Sky designation in 2018 and securing a location within the Fountain Hills municipal complex for the Discovery Center.”
Since the support statement from U.S. Senator Mark Kelly in late April, three more support statements have been obtained by the IDSDC.
“The International Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills highlights Arizona’s leadership in innovation and commitment to protecting our unparalleled access to the night skies,” said U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
“I am pleased to see that Fountain Hills may be expanding our Dark Sky community with the proposed International Dark Sky Discovery Center. This unique learning facility would be great for expanding STEM learning opportunities and would benefit all of Arizona,” said U.S. Congressman David Schweikert, a Fountain Hills resident.
“Arizona’s continued success and recognition as the fastest growing technology community in the U.S. can be traced back to our roots in space-related industries including astronomy and aerospace and defense. It’s critical that we continue to support development and innovation in this industry through local organizations like the International Dark Sky Discovery Center,” said Steven Zylstra, President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council.
All support statements are on the homepage of the IDSDC at darkskycenter.org.
“Fountain Hills, which was designated in January 2018 by the International Dark Sky Association as the 17th International Dark Sky Community in the world is the perfect location for the IDSDC in the Greater Phoenix area,” said Mayor Ginny Dickey.
The public can experience the IDSDC’s vision by viewing a three-minute video accessed via the website homepage.
The proposed, 15,000 square feet, non-profit International Dark Sky Discovery Center is designed as a unique, state-of-the-art, multi-functional facility that will provide science-based education and research opportunities and also serve as a tourism attraction for the state of Arizona and beyond.