New International Discovery Center created to preserve dark skies

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The International Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills broke ground on April 8, 2024. It is expected to open in 2025. Part of the mission of the Discovery Center is to help preserve “dark skies.”

The new 23,000 square foot Center includes:

  • A 20.5 foot domed observatory with a 27.5 inch PlaneWave telescope
  • A 65-seat planetarium utilizing immersive digital technology to deliver sharp laser images on the 39 foot diameter dome
  • A multi-use, 150 seat space that can be used as a theater, auditorium or lecture hall
  • A 3,300 square foot “Night Sky Experience” exhibit hall with interactive experiential displays designed to educate and inspire visitors of all ages

Jeff Esposito, Vice President and Project Coordinator of the International Dark Sky Discovery Center, joined “Arizona Horizon” to provide more insight on the Center.

The Dark Sky Discovery Center aims for kids to become more interested, involved and curious about science with a heavy influence on research. 

“…We want to provide STEM education experiences for students. We want to inspire them to like the sciences, to maybe choose sciences as a career. Secondly, we want to be a research facility, so in the metro area we are going to have the largest telescope in the Phoenix metro area and it’s going to be research ready and we’re going to have a full time astronomer staff so that’s going to make it kind of different,” said Esposito. 

The center also prioritizes how important dark skies contribute to factors including wildlife, human health and sustainability in Arizona. 

“Our third thing is Dark Sky Preservation, so we want to talk about how the dark skies relate to human health, to the wildlife conservation sustainability and we want to be a revenue generator for the state of Arizona,” said Esposito. 

Jeff Esposito, Vice President and Project Coordinator of the International Dark Sky Discovery Center

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