Something big is coming to Mars Hill—a brand new visitor center! Construction on the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Astronomy Discovery Center (ADC) is underway, with plans to open by early 2024. This 40,000-square-foot, multi-level facility will feature a café, a children’s exhibit hall, an outdoor planetarium, and more. Each section of the ADC is designed with the intention of inspiring awe, wonderment, and open-mindedness. Read on to learn more about the infinite wonders in store at the Astronomy Discovery Center.
Construction on the ADC began on June 26, 2021, and since then, exciting progress has already been made. As you can see in the live feed (right), the future site of the ADC has been cleared to make way for the building’s foundation. We can hardly wait to see the vision of the ADC come to life, and we’re even more excited to finally share it with visitors from around the world! The facility will feature four main attractions: the Universe Theater, the Dark Sky Planetarium, the Curiosity Zone, and the Astronomy Gallery. For now, we’ll just give you the basics on each—but stay tuned for deep dives into the features of each attraction as construction moves along!
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With a unique, multi-screened display, the state-of-the-art Universe Theater will deliver a truly immersive experience. One screen will be placed on the ceiling of the theater and another curved screen will wrap around the seating area. The Universe Theater will have the power to transport visitors anywhere from the center of a meteor strike on Earth to the surface of faraway worlds like Mars and Pluto. The theater will also include a stage that our educators can present from live, maintaining our emphasis on interactive presentations and programs at Lowell.
Dark Sky Planetarium
The Richard F. Caris Dark Sky Planetarium will function like a normal planetarium, but with one exception: instead of a dome, it will use Flagstaff’s stunning dark skies as a backdrop. Situated on the roof of the ADC, visitors will have an uninhibited view of the dazzling night sky from the comfort of heated seats. Live, interactive presentations given by our educators will feature familiar elements of our laser-guided constellation tours, with the addition of custom audio-visual components, to offer a planetarium experience unlike any other in the world.
The Curiosity Zone will be an interactive exhibit hall designed with aspiring scientists in mind. Colorful and engaging exhibits will combine fun with function as kids embark on a hands-on journey through the cosmos, guided by adorable aliens Marzee and Pluie. Interactive displays at Curiosity Zone exhibits will be fine-tuned for maximum learning and maximum fun! This exhibit hall will also serve as the only science museum designed specifically for children in northern Arizona.
Astronomy Gallery/Additional Galleries
In addition to the Curiosity Zone, the ADC will include an Astronomy Gallery as well as two additional exhibit halls. Like the Curiosity Zone, but geared to a wider audience, the Astronomy Gallery will include interactive exhibits designed to engage visitors and inspire curiosity. A visit to this exhibit gallery will take visitors on a journey from the Big Bang to having dinner with friends.
The Astronomy Discovery Center will be a place where curious visitors come to be awed by the cosmos and learn about astronomy.