As with all great things in Fountain Hills, it all began with a handful of passionate residents who thought, “I wonder how we can protect the unique dark skies we have here?”

Joe and Nancy Bill watched the night hawks swooping around their backyard after dusk and started talking about how much they loved the dark skies in Fountain Hills. Curious, Nancy searched online to see if there were any efforts to preserve the night sky. That’s when she learned about the International Dark Sky Association headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.

As luck would have it, Nancy visited the Fountain Hills Library in March 2015 and met Craig Gimbel who had just donated telescopes to the library for a unique telescope lending program. While chatting with Craig, he introduced her to Ted Blank who had recently co-founded the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club. And with that, the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association was born with the intention to pursue Dark Sky designation for our community.

The new board established a working relationship with Town officials to discuss the process of getting designated as an International Dark Sky Community. One of the most important actions needed was updating the Town’s lighting ordinance. The newest LED lighting technology needed to be addressed in order to qualify for the designation. In November 2016, the Town Council voted unanimously to an updated lighting ordinance that satisfied all the requirements from the International Dark Sky Association. Our application was submitted the next month.

On January 8, 2018, Fountain Hills was designated the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community.

To celebrate this prestigious certification, the board hosted its first annual Dark Sky Festival. Residents clearly loved this new badge of honor because over 2,000 people attended that first festival.

With the success of becoming an International Dark Sky Community, Joe and Nancy started imagining what could be done to promote the dark skies of Fountain Hills. The dream of building the International Dark Sky Discovery Center was born.

There is no other place in the Phoenix Metro area that can offer the dark skies and astrotourism that we can. CLICK HERE to learn more about Fountain Hills.