Urban Stargazers In Milwaukee is not a club. There are no membership dues or rosters. It is a gathering of individuals with a common interest in learning and practicing the hobby of amateur astronomy. The primary means of communication for coordinating star parties, knowledge-sharing sessions, etc. is through the "Try Astronomy" listserv e-mailing list hosted by freelists.org.
Because there is no formal club, everyone is invited to join in the fun. You don't need a telescope or know the first thing about astronomy. Most amateur astronomers are happy to share their enthusiasm for the hobby by letting you look through their scopes and answer any questions you may have.
There is a popular misconception that you need a powerful telescope costing thousands of dollars and be far away from city lights to enjoy the hobby of astronomy. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many objects can be seen with the naked eye or by using a good pair of binoculars. There is also a large "secondary market" where one can obtain a high-quality used telescope for a fraction of what they cost new.
The urban astronomers who live in or near Milwaukee, Wisconsin occasionally get together in the very heart of the city to set up their telescopes to view the planets, stars, galaxies, constellations, and even "satellite" objects orbiting the earth like the International Space Station, Hubble Telescope, and the Space Shuttle.
If you are one of the many people who have a telescope sitting in the closet gathering dust, dig it out, brush it off, and bring it with you. Many of Milwaukee's urban astronomers are quite well-versed in the technicalities of telescopes and can help you get the most out of your scope by answering questions on setup, settings, and other viewing considerations.
Urban astronomers are also happy to share their knowledge of the hobby with others, particularly those who are new to the hobby or would simply like more information about it. Informal knowledge-sharing sessions on the basics of telescopes and other astronomy equipment, identifying and locating celestial objects, and other topics of interest to beginning urban astronomers are sometimes held while waiting for the clouds to break or for the sun to fully set.
By having the opportunity to look through a variety of telescopes and learn about the different types of telescopes through knowledge-sharing, you can become a more informed consumer should your interest in astronomy lead you to purchasing a scope of your own.
Gatherings usually take place near the Urban Ecology Center building at Riverside Park on Milwaukee's northeast side. Their address is:
1500 East Park Place
Riverside Park is located near Locust St. and Oakland Ave. behind Riverside High School. (There is a Locust St. exit from I-43. Go east on Locust after exiting the freeway.) Park Place is the street on the south side of Riverside Park (see map below). You will see the Urban Ecology Center building on the right side of the street as you are driving west on Park Place from Oakland Ave.
If you come to a gathering that you saw discussed on the listserv and don't see a group of people loitering around a cluster of telescopes, look inside the Urban Ecology Center building. The hobby of astronomy is at the mercy of the weather and if clouds prevent the use of telescopes, there is likely some knowledge-sharing taking place inside this building.
We get together once a month, currently the 2nd Thursday of each month. However, this is subject to change and weather or planetary conditions may result in a spontaneous "star party". Subscribe to the listserv to receive e-mails about gatherings. (Once you subscribe you should receive an e-mail welcoming you to the list and containing information on how to use the list.
You can view past listserv messages in the list archive.
View pictures of our trip to Lake Mills where Obsession Dobsonian Telescopes are hand-made by Dave Kriege.
Jack Horkheimer hosts a weekly 5-minute program called "Star Gazer" which is carried on most PBS stations. He details which objects will be prime for viewing in the upcoming week, including how and where to locate them. These programs (including past programs) can be also be viewed at any time over the Internet on YouTube or using QuickTime at:
The Your Sky Web site displays a sky chart for the current date and time for many cities around the world with a lot of display options. Here is:
Milwaukee's current sky chart
If your interest in astronomy expands to the point where you would like pursue the more advanced aspects of the hobby, there are several formal astronomy clubs in and near Milwaukee that welcome new members. These formal clubs include:
Public and press inquiries should be directed to
Victor Vargo at 414-327-3861 or [email protected]