View Full Version : Tour of Yerkes Observatory - May remain open after U of C leaves

2018-Jun-09, 04:14 PM
On June 2 my brothers and I visited the Yerkes Observatory, which is owned and operated by the University of Chicago. It’s located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin on Geneva Lake not far from Chicago.

Yerkes was built in 1897 and originally housed the telescope with the world’s widest aperture, a 40-inch refractor. It’s still there. It had a long history of significant astronomical discoveries by prominent astronomers.

Hour-long $10 tours are conducted every day but Sunday. You learn about the unique architecture of the building, then sit near the large telescope for a lecture about it. During scheduled evenings you can observe through the large telescope for $100.

The tour and accompanying lectures are marvelous. The reason for the fees is that the U of C will divest itself from association with the observatory on 2018 OCT 01. Local residents who perform docent duties including lecturing are in the process of raising funds so that they can keep the observatory running and continue providing tours.

If you are living in or visiting Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin, I highly recommend touring Yerkes. Here’s a link to its website: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes

2018-Jun-13, 04:20 PM
I've been in contact with the head of the local community's Yerkes Future Foundation. Ditto for the chairman of the physics department at Northern Illinois University which is not far from Yerkes Observatory. They are now in contact with each other. While an institution of higher learning is needed to maintain and operate the facility, a homebuilder is needed to develop the surrounding 77 acres near Geneva Lake.

Below is a link to an article regarding the Yerkes Future Foundation. Its proposal is essentially a place holder as it seeks prospects with deeper pockets.


2018-Jul-05, 02:33 PM
Chicago Tribune - this morning regarding attempt to preserve Yerkes Observatory:

Roger E. Moore
2018-Jul-26, 06:47 PM
I once lived in Williams Bay, literally down the street from Yerkes. Ate a picnic lunch there, went on tours there, loved it.

2018-Sep-27, 03:40 PM
I once lived in Williams Bay, literally down the street from Yerkes. Ate a picnic lunch there, went on tours there, loved it.

Marvelous, Roger. Now is your last chance. Today, tomorrow and Saturday are officially the final dates for you to visit Yerkes Observatory before it permanently closes. There are two groups that have been seeking to keep it running, but success appears to have eluded them.

Roger E. Moore
2018-Sep-27, 03:45 PM
I really wish I could, but I now live in South Carolina. I am bummed about Yerkes closing, really flat bummed.

2018-Oct-01, 10:12 PM
As scheduled, the University of Chicago closed Yerkes Observatory to the public today. Last week I communicated by email and phone with Williams Bay activist Dianna Colman who chairs the Yerkes Futures Foundation. She said the situation is complicated and something may still get done.

Here's a link to today's article in the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-yerkes-observatory-closing-university-of-chicago-20180930-story.html