'Astro Joe' and his telescope bring the wonders of the night sky to city dwellers
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago at night is such a beautiful sight that it can be easy to overlook the natural wonders of the night sky.


But one local astronomer has made it his mission to change that – and bring the stars to city dwellers.


CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek joined Joe Guzman, also known as Astro Joe – at the west end of the 606 Trail for a special look at the moon Friday night.


Just before the sun sets, Astro Joe sets up his telescope at the west end of the 606 Trail at Ridgeway Avenue. On the second Friday of every month, weather permitting, Guzman puts his teacher cap on.


He introduces himself anyone and everyone who wants to learn a little something about his lifelong passion – our universe.


“What I used to do is take my dad’s binoculars without his permission, go in the backyard, and just look at the night sky – fascinated to what I was seeing,” Guzman said.


From that spot at the west end of the 606, Astro Joe says he’s seen it all – the moon, the stars, and every planet from Mercury to Neptune.


Guzman’s telescope is the largest free mobile telescope in the city. All of the parts weigh about 230 pounds.


But Astro Joe says lugging it up to the 606 is more than worth it – because he says it’s the only way you can see all the stars and planets in a light-polluted sky.


“It takes the proper astronomer, it takes good equipment, and with that, you can punch through any light pollution, use filters,” Guzman said. “Like a truck driver knows the streets of the countryside, we know the constellations and how to get to certain places.”


Even after nearly 20 years of sharing the universe with others, Astro Joe says there is a reason it still holds him so captive.


“Billions of years ago, there were stars that are no longer there that blew up – that’s supernovae. The elements inside those stars now make up us – the calcium in our teeth and our bones, the nitrogen in our DNA, the iron in our red blood cells – all came from the hearts of stars that are no longer there,” Guzman said.


That’s why even with our feet firmly planted in our home – Chicago – Astro Joe says something special happens when we take our gaze up.


“When we look up at the stars and marvel, just immerse ourselves into the cosmos, what we’re really doing is looking back home – and that’s the innate attraction of it,” Guzman said. “That’s why I love teaching astronomy so much and I like to share it with everybody else.”

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