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Yerkes Observatory

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Address: 373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
Phone Number: +1 262-245-5555
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 $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age 6 - 17. Hours vary a bit by season. Consult the website for the most current tour schedule. Saturday tours are held for the public at 10 and 11 am, and 12Noon. Reservations are not required. While free to visitors, the suggested donation on Saturdays is $8 per person. The grounds are open every day, during daylight hours, for self-guided walking tours, free of charge. Photography is permitted. Professional photographers are required to contact the Observatory in advance during weekday hours to obtain permission for any photo shoot. The staff also hosts public observing sessions with the 40-inch refractor and the 24-inch reflecting telescopes 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

Read all 133 reviews
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Interesting visit

We enjoyed visiting here. I would recommend staying for the tour and learning about the largest refracting telescope. The tour last about an hour, hour and a half. They also... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 3 weeks ago
alwaysfun2travel
,
Florida
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133 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 132: English reviews
Florida
Level Contributor
236 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We enjoyed visiting here. I would recommend staying for the tour and learning about the largest refracting telescope. The tour last about an hour, hour and a half. They also explain the history of the observatory and things you may overlook on your own while visiting. Donations are excepted.

Helpful?
Thank alwaysfun2travel
Haines, Alaska
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Beautiful fall day, historic architecture and bountiful stellar information! History about the building, the telescope, the star gazing.

Helpful?
Thank Terri B
Richardson, Texas
Level Contributor
132 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 26, 2016 via mobile

I would not recommend this tour for everyone, particularly younger kids. But if you have an appreciation for science and history you will appreciate the perspective both scientifically, architecturally, and historically that tour guide Richard offers. Because the day we visited was clear we were treated to a reflective view of sun spots. It is amazing that this telescope was... More 

Helpful?
Thank Lee F
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 19, 2016

What a terrific find. To see such an amazing piece of History. We will be going back to do some of the things that allow you to use the telescope. The tour is very educational but could be shortened on the History of Yerkes and his Chicago connection.

Helpful?
Thank 858cathyp
McHenry, Illinois
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2016

Not what we thought it would be like, Probably will not recommend this place to friends or family, not impressed at all.

Helpful?
Thank Georgann S
Dan K, Manager at Yerkes Observatory, responded to this review

Georgann, thank you for taking time to tell us about your experience at Yerkes. I am concerned, though, about your comments. First, did you participate on a daytime tour or a nighttime observing experience? Then, what about your visit did not meet or exceed your expectations? You state in your review that your visit was "Not what we thought it... More 

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 17, 2016 via mobile

We were looking online to find times for their tours and ended up finding out about the programs that allow you to use the telescopes! My husband and I were in the area for our anniversary and decided to go for the 40 inch refracting telescope program! It was without a doubt the best part of our trip! Amazing program!!!... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Rachel P
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 11, 2016 via mobile

Great thing to do in the evening when there is good weather. Look through telescopes on the lawn. Only $5 and were able to see the moon and saturn.

Helpful?
Thank Amy J
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 8, 2016

I had not been to Yerkes for years, despite living in the area. All I can say s "Wow!" They have a very interesting talk about both the observatory and its history to go along with the world's largest refracting telescope. The gift shop is unique and fun, as well. Tours are Saturday morning at 10, 11, and noon. Suggested... More 

Helpful?
Thank John T
Elm Grove, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 23, 2016 via mobile

The tour started 10 mins late and we went up to the main deck where we had to listen to a 30 mins talk about the observatory, the history of the building and the man it is named after. My 7 year old got bored. Otherwise it was good listening and talk. Don't expect to get a peek through the... More 

Helpful?
Thank Naseerahmed2008
Dan K, Manager at Yerkes Observatory, responded to this review

Thank you for visiting Yerkes and for sharing your experience recently. I appreciate that you took the time to give us feedback. To be clear to everyone reading your review, telescope viewing is a nighttime activity at Yerkes and is not advertised nor offered during the day except under unusual circumstances. We do not currently offer daytime viewing opportunities, which... More 

Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 23, 2016

This is a great stop. The observatory is a wonderful piece of history. You will be amazed at the engineering that was used to make this telescope work.

Helpful?
Thank Janis S

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