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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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Architectural history really fascinating. Do the tour!!! Guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Teenager kids loved it too.

5 of 5 starsReviewed July 2, 2015
lamaral1968
,
Chicago, Illinois
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65 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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English first
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2015 NEW

Architectural history really fascinating. Do the tour!!! Guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Teenager kids loved it too.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2015 NEW

We did a night time tour with Dan, it was really cool to get to use the telescope and see different stars and planets. He is obviously a very smart guy and explained everything to us in detail. My only complaint is that it was a large group, so we had to go up on the platform in two groups,... More 

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Majorca, Spain
Level Contributor
169 reviews
69 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2015 NEW

This is well worth the visit for the information you will receive. Dan is an excellent guide with lots of knowledge. The background to it all is amazing.it is a worthy cause connected to the university of Chicago. Do go, you won't be disappointed.

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Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
95 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2015

This was a fun visit. I've been interested in astronomy for years and still watch the International Space Station pass overhead when the weather and the viewing angles are right. This observatory houses the largest refracting telescope (lenses rather than mirrors) in the world and has architectural features that would interest both art and architecture buffs. Since the main telescope... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2015

Unbelievable tour. The facility is magnificent with tons of history. Tour guide (Dan) was non stop. Covered so many things. It was presented better than anything on the discovery channel. Equipment was in excellent condition (not just for its age). To stand on the large elevator floor in the large Scope was hard to belive something that old (1897) still... More 

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St. Charles, IL
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2015

Amazing that a Chicagoan drives 100 miles to the shores of Lake Geneva to find a piece of scientific history that first was shown at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. As part of a great philanthropic gift from Charles Yerkes. the observatory was built on grounds landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same guy who designed Chicago's great... More 

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Genoa City, Wisconsin
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2015

Our tour guide did an awesome job explaining the history and architecture of the building. This place is definitely worth taking the time to visit!

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United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2015

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 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
Level Contributor
22 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 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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Additional Information about Yerkes Observatory

Address: Address: 373 W. Geneva Street, Williams Bay, WI 53191
Phone Number: 262-245-5555
Location: United States  >  Wisconsin (WI)  >  Williams Bay

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Shannon, Illinois
5 months ago

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