2020 Virtual Dark Sky Festival

Welcome to the 2020 Virtual Dark Sky Festival. We hope you are doing well and are ready to enjoy our efforts to turn our live event into one that can be viewed from home.

In the spirit of social distancing and staying at home in the midst of COVID-19, each participant recorded themselves at home using their smartphone or computer. This virtual festival, just like its live counterpart would have been, is a true labor of love. It may not be high-tech with professional videography or audio, but it shows the love we have for our dark skies and our passion for keeping them dark.


Our Virtual Festival starts off with a welcome from Fountain Hills Mayor Ginny Dickey. You’ll also hear from our board president, Scott Adams, board memeber and owner of Dirk’s Electric, Mark Derksen, and board member and NASA Solar System, Ambassador, Ted Blank.


Dr. Mario Motta planned to fly out to our festival as our keynote speaker. When the event was cancelled, he graciously agreed to record his presentation, just as if he were really here!

Dr. Motta is a notable physician and well-known astronomer. He served for eight years on the American Medical Association’s council on science and public health and has been active in light pollution issues for more than 30 years.

In this segment, you’ll learn about the AMA’s position on outdoor LED lighting.


Ted Blank has been part of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association board from the beginning. He has played a key role in our efforts to earn International Dark Sky  Association designation for Fountain Hills. He is also the co-founder of the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club and serves as a NASA Solar System Ambassador.

In this segment, Ted shares about the Apollo Project: How Mankind Got to the Moon.


Fountain Hills is a stargazer’s and astronomer’s paradise. Not only do we have protected Dark Skies, but we have some great community resources.

The River of Time Museum exhibits the telescope used by late-resident Charles Juels to discover over 400 astroids from his backyard in Fountain Hills. Ted Blank gives an engaging presentation about this great fete.

The Fountain Hills Library has a nationally award-winning telescope lending program. Shelley Reddy shares about this program along with other valuable resources offered through the library’s website while the library is closed.




You can now order a festival t-shirt or our beer and wine glasses online.

CLICK HERE to place your order.



Dark Sky preservation isn’t just about protecting our view of the stars, but it’s also about protecting human health as we heard from Dr. Motta, and also about protecting wildlife.

Ranger Amy Burnett joins us to share the impact light pollution has on our local wildlife and why it’s so important to protect them.


In our final segment, we announce our Student Art Contest winners and our Astrophotography Contest winners. These submissions were collected before the schools and Community Center closed. Thank you to Cindy Couture and Peggy Yeargain for spearheading the Student Art Contest and to Bruce Boyce, president of the Fountain Hills Photography Club, for leading the Astrophotography Contest.

Scott Adams, our board president, also shares some great tips for those who are interested in getting started in astrophotography.


Thank you for participating in this little adventure of our, the 2020 Virtual Dark Sky Festival.

We want to thank all of our board members who work with great passion to protect Fountain Hills’ night skies: Scott Adams, Vicky Derksen, Jeff Esposito, Kim Robertson, Mark Derksen, Debbie Clason, Joe Bill, Nancy Bill, Ted Blank, Clayton Corey, Don Harvel, Tony Pistilli, Craig Gimbel, Lisa Miller.

Keep looking up to the stars, for we are all made of stardust!