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The International Dark Sky Discovery Center (IDSDC) has launched an $18 million capital campaign to build a unique science-based facility in Fountain Hills that includes what organizers are calling “a first-class domed observatory.” The IDSDC will house the largest telescope in Greater Phoenix, and with its three other state-of-the-art components, will provide STEM education for students and leading-edge learning experiences for all ages.

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

Coinciding with the third anniversary of Fountain Hills being designated as the 17th Dark Sky Community in the world by the International Dark Sky Association, IDSDC is privately raising capital to construct the 15,000-square-foot, non-profit facility that Bill said will be an international attraction benefiting the entire State of Arizona.

Now, for the first time, the public can experience the vision of the IDSDC by viewing a video designed to introduce the public to the project. To view the video, go online to darkskycenter.org/video.

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

Once constructed, IDSDC will feature four distinct educational attractions including a Dark Sky Observatory, Hyperspace Planetarium, Inspiration Theater and an Immersion Zone with interactive exhibits.

“Our Dark Sky Observatory will have the largest telescope in the Greater Phoenix area,” said Ted Blank, IDSDC vice president and NASA solar system ambassador. “We will offer public viewing to present breathtaking views of the moon, planets, nebula, galaxies and other stellar objects.”

The observatory’s capabilities for astrophotography and research have already attracted the interest of university leadership.

“Arizona State University looks forward to developing a collaborative relationship with the International Dark Sky Discovery Center,” said ASU president Dr. Michael Crow.

Organizers said the IDSDC will also have significant economic and economic development impact on the region.

“Science-based education is important to the continued development of the state’s high-tech industry,” said Chris Camacho, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “The International Dark Sky Discovery Center will be a unique regional asset, providing an incredible platform for STEM education and workforce development.”

Tourism officials say IDSDC will be an important part of the state’s Astrotourism industry, which already brings visitors to the region specifically for astronomy-related experiences.

“Dark sky tourism is a major draw for the State of Arizona, and we believe the International Dark Sky Discovery Center will be an extraordinary asset for our state,” said Debbie Johnson,

executive director at the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Those interested in more information or donating to the IDSDC should visit DarkSkyCenter.org.

The proposed site for the IDSDC is located in Fountain Hills within the town’s civic center complex, between the library and community garden.