The Town of Fountain Hills is featured as part of an exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky is a 4,340-square-foot exhibition about the global loss of the night sky to light pollution. Opened on March 23, the exhibit has hosted thousands of visitors to learn the history of lighting, the connection between humanity and the night sky, the unintended consequences of excessive outdoor lighting, and the principles that people can be used to reduce light pollution.
Fountain Hills was included in the exhibition to show visitors that they can find ways to experience the night sky in their communities, wherever they are. On Thursday, July 6, Mayor Ginny Dickey was on hand at the exhibit sharing the Fountain Hills journey to becoming an International Dark Sky community.
"Somewhere in Chile, two kids are walking around with Fountain pins on their collars. A family from Arkansas, too. People in Indiana, West Virginia, Texas, and more are wearing our State 48 T-shirts and raising interest and curiosity about the Dark Sky Community of Fountain Hills, AZ!" said Mayor Dickey.
Along with the Museum visitors, Rep. Schweikert's office staff and interns stopped by to chat and learn about the Dark Skies in their home District and snap a photo.
"Some of the comments and questions demonstrated lots of curiosity in how to become dark sky-friendly and curiosity about how it affects everyday life. The most revealing one was 'If we visited Fountain Hills, how would we get to the place where you can see the stars and planets, is there a shuttle?' They were taken by surprise that you can see them virtually from anyplace. It was exciting to share the process and the intriguing International Dark Sky Discovery Center plans and photos," Dickey said. "There was also a great deal of interest in the Fountain, as you can imagine!"
Due to its exemplary dedication to protecting local night skies through public policy, promoting quality outdoor lighting, and outreach to residents and visitors, in Fountain Hills people can still glimpse the Milky Way, even with skyglow from nearby Phoenix. The International Dark-Sky Association accredited it for these efforts in 2018.
The Mayor and her husband, Jim, had planned a trip to the Washington, D.C., area to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Jim had the idea to contact the Smithsonian's Office of Education, Outreach and Visitor Experience to inquire if they would like the Mayor from one of their featured exhibits to greet visitors. The staff invited Dickey to share Fountain Hills' story as part of the Museum's "Experts Within" program. The Smithsonian staff estimated more than a couple hundred people visited with the Mayor.
Dickey added, "It's good to know that there are more people in the world that know about LED lights and how to make them dimmer, Astro-Tourism, animals and the night sky, the IDSDC (International Dark Sky Discovery Center) and the incredible Town of Fountain Hills, Arizona!"
To learn more about Fountain Hills, visit www.fountainhillsaz.gov.