Astronomy educator Joe Guzman explains telescope workings on July 13, 2022, in Chicago’s McKinley Park.

“Astro Joe” Brings Joy of Astronomy to McKinley Park

Published September 14, 2022

Dozens of McKinley Park neighborhood residents and Chicago-area fans of the night sky enjoyed the lowdown on urban astronomy from Joe Guzman, a science educator, astronomy advocate and founder of the Chicago Astronomer program and its “Chicago Astronomy Crew.”

 
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“All telescopes are beautiful,” Guzman said as he explained the workings of his reflecting telescope on a mid-July evening in one of the fields of Chicago’s McKinley Park. Looking at the stars means you’re looking backward through time, he said.

 
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“We are all made from the universe,” Guzman said. “Astronomy is like the universe looking back on itself.”

Viviana Montenegro preps her telescope during the Chicago Astronomy Crew session in Chicago's McKinley Park.Viviana Montenegro preps her telescope during the July 13, 2022, Chicago Astronomy Crew session in Chicago's McKinley Park.In addition to an ongoing series of stargazing events coordinated with the Chicago Park District, Guzman also runs an After School Matters program centered on science and astronomy.

Astronomy in the City

Chicago high school senior Andre Evans, an alumni of Guzman’s After School Matters program, joined the McKinley Park event, bringing his own telescope. He said astronomy has been a valuable and fascinating part of his science education.

“Stargazing is like drifting through different parts of the sky,” he said.

Guzman noted that even in a light pollution-heavy environment like Chicago, looking into the skies will reveal planets, stars, orbiting satellites and more.

Andre Evans displays his telescope that he brought to the McKinley Park astronomy session on July 13, 2022.Andre Evans displays his telescope that he brought to the McKinley Park astronomy session on July 13, 2022.“You can still do astronomy in the city,” he said.

How to Use Telescopes

Viviana Montenegro came all the way from suburban Evanston, bringing her telescope to join Guzman’s group at McKinley Park. She regularly follows Guzman to stargazing events, she said, having initially solicited his help through Facebook to align her new telescope.

 
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“I wanted to see things happen in the sky,” she said.

Paula Telcian, who also brought her telescope to McKinley Park, also found Guzman through Facebook when she was trying to figure out how to use her telescope, which she received as a holiday gift.

Rosie and Mary Maribel enjoy the astronomy session in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.Rosie and Mary Maribel enjoy the astronomy session in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.“He teaches us how to use our telescopes,” she said.

Space Is Cool

Prior to the stargazing session, kids and youth enjoyed several astronomy education and craft stations set up in the McKinley Park field house and staffed by members of the Chicago Astronomy Crew, the Chicago Council on Science and Technology and the Chicago Park District.

Paula Telcian waits by her telescope for skies to darken in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.Many local kids also enjoyed the outdoor telescope setup and stargazing, including 9-year-old Mary Maribel. “Space is cool,” she said.

 
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Guzman continues his series of outdoor astronomy education and stargazing into the fall, with the next session set for 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at Steelworkers Park, East 87th Street at Lake Michigan, Chicago.

 
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Paula Telcian waits by her telescope for skies to darken in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.Paula Telcian waits by her telescope for skies to darken in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.More information on this and other astronomy events are available on the Chicago Astronomer page on Facebook.

Joe Guzman and the Chicago Astronomy Crew demonstrate telescopes in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.
Joe Guzman and the Chicago Astronomy Crew demonstrate telescopes to dozens of attendees in McKinley Park on July 13, 2022.


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