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Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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About the Twin City Amateur Astronomers.

Our history…

The Twin City Amateur Astronomers (TCAA) was founded in 1960. The intent of the founders was to provide views of the night sky to members and the general public and share information about astronomy. Observations at that time were limited to the moon, planets, meteor showers, and a few of the brighter nebulas, clusters, and galaxies of the night sky. Twice monthly meetings were held during the early years of the club. Today, the Internet, computer applications, and social media provide for the needs of members to learn more about the night sky and to share experiences. In recognition of its amazing 50-year record, the club published a 139-page history, though a four-page summary is available as well. Additional information about our history is available and you can view our bylaws.

Who we are…

The club was founded as an informal social and scientific group of “amateur moon watchers and star gazers”. Today, we are an Illinois corporation that is Federally recognized as a 501(c)3 educational and scientific non-profit entity. We are also an affiliate of the Astronomical League and the NASA Night Sky Network. Many of our members, but by no means all, are technologically sophisticated individuals who use research-grade telescopic and photograph equipment either through personal means or through the club's observatories courtesy of several generous benefactors. Additional information about who we are is available.

What we do…

As a result, the club is nowadays primarily an observing network. While we hold social events, they are by no means the focus of what we do. There are five major themes of amateur astronomy running through the club currently: (1) astrophotography, (2) visual observations, (3) education and public outreach, (4) armchair amateur astronomy, and (5) light pollution activism. Additional information about what we do is available.

How we observe…

The TCAA maintains two world-class amateur observatories for our members: Sugar Grove Observatory and Prairie Sky Observatory. Sugar Grove Observatory was built in 2000 and holds a photographic telescope. Prairie Sky Observatory was built in 2013 and holds four telescopes, three dedicated to astrophotography and one dedicated to visual observations. Club members who are properly trained in their use have access. Many club members have their own observing equipment. Additional information about our observatories is available.

Where we observe…

Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove (locate between Shirley and McLean, IL) is the base of operations of the TCAA. It is here where we have our two observatories and conduct much of our education and public outreach. By invitation we conduct education and public outreach activities at other locations, mostly within McLean County. Still, several of our members have given talks and hosted observing sessions in rural settings across the state. Additional information about Sugar Grove Nature Center is available.

Why we observe…

The membership shares a common bond forged by a mutual interest in the beauty of the night sky. Interests range from a desire to become intimately familiar with the workings of things in space to an appreciation of the glorious beauty of the night sky to a desire to photograph things not normally visible to the unaided eye even with the largest telescopes. Because of mutual interest in the night sky, a deep form of camaraderie occurs within the club. While our founding members are no longer with us, several of our members have been actively involved with the club and amateur astronomy for over 40 years. Additional information about why we observe is available.

Membership benefits…


Individuals and families who become members of the TCAA receive a number of important membership benefits. Among the most important of these is access to observatory facilities by those who are properly qualified to use them. Another of the benefits is being part of a like-minded group with interest in the night sky and interpretation of it to members of the general public. Members receive the award-winning, full-color newsletter The OBSERVER on a monthly basis. Members also engage in social activities. Additional information about membership benefits is available.

Getting involved…

If you enjoy astronomy, consider joining the club and getting involved. It's common for both prospective and new members to feel under qualified to use our cutting-edge equipment and to participate in some of the activities of the club. Don't let this stop you. Even if this is the case, it’s no reason for failing to get involved. We were all novice amateur astronomers at one time. It’s only because we jumped in with both feet that we eventually got to know other amateur astronomers and what amateur astronomy is all about. Don’t worry about "imposing" on established amateur astronomers in this club. Most of them learned in much the same way and want to help others learn. Additional information about getting involved is available.

Learn still more...

To learn still more about the TCAA, join our information and image-sharing listservs, view Pantagraph articles, and even become a member, visit our learn still more web page.