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Yerkes Observatory

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Address: 373 W. Geneva Street, Williams Bay, WI 53191
Phone Number: 262-245-5555
Website
Description: Yerkes Observatory is owned and operated by the University Chicago...
Yerkes Observatory is owned and operated by the University Chicago, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Built between 1895 and 1897 in the classic Romanesque style, Yerkes is home to the largest refracting (lens-type) telescope in the world and two other research-grade reflecting (mirror-type) telescopes. The building is beautifully preserved and ornamented with Roman brick and terra cotta, has three telescope domes (the largest is 90 feet in diameter and 10 stories in height), and is situated on 77 acres in a park-like setting. Tours of the building and the refractor are available Monday through Friday ( the cost is $25 for a brief overview tour, or $100 for a longer, extensive tour) all year. Call the Observatory in advance or stop by between 9:30 am until 4:00 pm. Saturday tours are held for the public at 10:15 am, 11:15 am, and 12:15 pm. Reservations are not required. While free to visitors, the suggested donation on Saturdays is $5 per person. The grounds are open every day, during daylight hours, for self-guided walking tours, free of charge. Photography is permitted. The staff also hosts public observing sessions with the 24-inch reflecting telescope many evenings throughout the year. Reservations are required and there is a charge for participation. Call the Observatory during regular weekday hours or visit the Yerkes website for more information. The Observatory contains a lovely museum, many interesting displays concerning its construction, history, architecture and the science of astronomy, and a gift shop with many unique items.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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An Amazing Wonder for Anyone to Behold.

This is an amazing structure that's simply a beautiful place built in a serine area away from the busy lives we all lead. My wife and I are in our thirties with one extremely well... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed May 28, 2015
Brighton_Cross
,
United States
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58 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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English first
United States
2 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2015 NEW

This is an amazing structure that's simply a beautiful place built in a serine area away from the busy lives we all lead. My wife and I are in our thirties with one extremely well behaved preschooler. I would advise that if your child can not stand or sit still for a couple of hours to hire a sitter because... More 

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1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2015 NEW via mobile

Everyone should put this on their bucket list! The Yerkes building is an incredible piece of architecture. Built in 1895; it gives a feeling of stepping into another time. Our guide was very engaging weaving together history and science. We were able to view Saturn, Jupiter, the moon, a globular star cluster and a planetary nebula! Fantastic viewing! Thanks!

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Kansas City, Missouri
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
5 attraction reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2015

Was impressive to see how far astro-science has come over the last 100 years. This is a great tour, free on Saturdays. Great History, architecture and a must to see.

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Woodridge, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2015

My visit to the Yerkes was both fun and educational. The tour guide was great, and the observatory was very interesting inside and out. The explanation of the various aspects of the architecture was super interesting especially the molded figures on the outside of the building. The dome housing the telescope was huge and amazing. Original wood floors from the... More 

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Chicago, Illinois
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
3 attraction reviews
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2015

This building is run by the University of Chicago. It was built in the 1800 and is beautiful to look at. We arrived just as Mr. Dreiser was going to lunch so I highly recommend calling before going. Tours are $25 per couple and night tours are $30.

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Friendship, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
14 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2015

We took one of their tours and were very pleased with it. We got to see the telescope, learn some of the history of the place, and observe the architecture of the building. The tour guides were VERY knowledgeable about all of those aspects that I listed, and we really liked our tour!

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chicago, illinois
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
4 attraction reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2015

We took the Saturday morning tour of Yerkes Observatory and thoroughly enjoyed it. The tour is quite comprehensive and touches on all the right things - the history, the personalities involved in the conception and construction of the Observatory, the architecture and of course the workings of the telescopes themselves. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgable and informative and his... More 

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Fontana, Wisconsin
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2015

This is a must for history buffs and anybody who appreciates great architecture. The tour guide was very knowledgable and interesting.

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2 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2015

Take the free tour on Saturday morning and enjoy! We learned about the history behind the intriguing financing and building of the observatory and the evolution of the telescope lens. This one held the world record! The architecture is fascinating as well.

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Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2015

Very cool and interesting part of star observing history . FREE! Great for families ,couples, everyone. The grounds are a pleasant walking area and the exterior building is a fascinating game of I Spy

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Shannon, Illinois
4 months ago

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