The Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association formed in 2015 as an effort to preserve the community’s star-filled night sky. With the changes in lighting technology threatening to destroy the town’s dark sky asset, Joe and Nancy Bill decided to lead the effort to protect it.
The immediate goal was to get International Dark Sky Community designation for the Town. More than two years of dedicated work by the association paid off on January 8, 2018, when Fountain Hills became the world’s 17th Dark Sky Community.
The first Dark Sky Festival in April 2018 was a celebration of this achievement. Over 1,000 attendees enjoyed the cooperative efforts of the library, museum, community garden, local astronomy club, and listened to presentations from speakers such as the director of Lowell Observatory.
One of the purposes of the organization is to educate the community about the advantages of smart lighting and protecting our unique dark sky. They do this by visiting local clubs and organizations and through their website’s blog and social media.
“Through educating the public, we are able to bust the myth that being a Dark Sky Community means having no lights in Town,” says Vicky Derksen, a member of the board. “We demonstrate how using warmer colored lights, lower lumens, and proper shielding prevents light pollution and reduces the risks to human and animal health. And people are amazed when they see how easy it is to protect our night sky.”
Looking toward the future, the organization is working on plans for a privately-funded Astroscience Discovery Center and public observatory. Such an amenity would put Fountain Hills on the map for astro-tourism and education. Local residents, students, and researchers can study and enjoy the views of our vast universe from our own beautiful town.
For more information about the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association, visit their website at http://fhdarksky.com/.