This is a unique experience and truly special - but to be clear it is not the viewing through the telescope that is the draw. The view through the telescope is approximate to... read more
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.