Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay: Hours, Address, Yerkes Observatory Reviews: 4.5/5

Yerkes Observatory
4.5
Observatories & Planetariums
Saturday
12:00 PM - 12:15 PM
About
The Yerkes Observatory is currently closed to the public and is expected to reopen in late 2019 or early 2020. Watch this listing for more information as it becomes available. The Observatory is the home of the world's largest lens-type (refractor) telescope, and two other research-grade reflecting (mirror-type) telescopes. The building is beautifully preserved and ornamented in the Romanesque style 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 Saturday. The cost is $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age 6 - 17. Tours conducted by expert guides last about an hour and include a description of history, architecture, science, astronomy and the Great Refractor. Weekday visitors must participate in a guided tour to see the interior of the building.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
327 reviews
Excellent
257
Very good
54
Average
5
Poor
5
Terrible
6

Cale S
Rutland, VT11 contributions
A national treasure.
Mar 2020
While it is currently closed to the public, a Foundation has been established to re-open at some time in the future. Put it on your wish list. There is really nothing like the Yerkes Observatory in the world.
Written 6 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Terri L
Lake Geneva, WI31 contributions
Yerkes Observatory is CLOSED
Jul 2019
We went to go walk around the grounds and hopefully tour the building, but it was roped off and closed to the public. It is no longer in operation. You can take a picture from a distance but that is all. You can also see the dome from Geneva Lake which is kinda cool. It’s just too bad that is all you can do.
Written 5 November 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Robert T
9 contributions
Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay WI
Oct 2019 • Couples
We visited last month and discovered that it has been closed for about a year. There are hoping to reopen it in about a year. Beautiful building!
Written 18 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

dasco474
Dwight, IL258 contributions
Wish it had been open
Aug 2019
We were told that this property had been closed in October 2018 so there was no hope of seeing the inside. We did park at the Main gate which was closed and walked down the roadway - the lure of the beautiful domes was too much for we four architecturally motivated women to ignore. We observed and photographed these beautiful buildings and we were so happy that we could at least see the outside of this beautiful, historical property. We look forward to it reopening for visitors again.
Written 26 August 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Madison M
2 contributions
Very Special Place in Williams Bay
May 2019 • Friends
Great Weather- informative and historic place to visit. Other visitors need access to this historical landmark to carry on the tradition and all its wonderment it brings to Williams Bay.
Written 4 June 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

roandbill
Morton, IL26 contributions
CLOSED
Apr 2019 • Couples
The observatory has been closed to the general public for more than a year now. The owner, Univ. of Chicago, wants to sell the building and land for development but is meeting resistance from the local populace. Highly doubtful it will ever be reopened.
Written 17 April 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Thank you for you comment. I would like to clarify some things for you and anyone reading your posting. Yerkes closed to the public, temporarily, on October 1, 2018 so it's been closed for just under 7 months as of today's date. We do not expect Yerkes to reopen until the fourth quarter of 2019 and possibly not until the 1st quarter of 2020. The odds of Yerkes reopening are very, very good however, and comments to the contrary that are from noncredible, unreliable, or from uninformed / unnamed sources are not helpful and should be disregarded. The University of Chicago has no plans to sell the property or develop it. There are no "secret deals" going on in the background. The Yerkes Future Foundation, a group of highly involved and connected local residents, is working diligently with the University to transfer the property and reopen and operate in a manner similar to what was being done there up to October 2018. We will have new and improved options for public offerings and all-new involvement options for other educational institutions. When a reopen date is available it will be posted here and on other social media outlets. A new webpage will appear sometime after that announcement. The best option for everyone is to stay tuned and stay informed through credible news sources.
Written 18 April 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Steven A
Hinsdale, IL388 contributions
A jewel both architecturally and scirntificslly
Oct 2018 • Family
We love going any time we are in the area
Special place, maybe outdated but cool to see, experience and explore
Written 22 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Scott B
Fredericksburg, VA26 contributions
Yerkes Observatory
Sep 2018 • Couples
Wow, just Wow! Weaseled my way into a dream tour of the Yerkes Observatory including the 40 inch refractor, the 40-inch reflector, and the 24-inch reflector. I was able to talk my guide into a behind the scene tour of the observatory backrooms, instrumentation and the photo plate archives. We found one of the original glass plate cameras that was used on the 40-inch refractor, several filar micrometers and even and old spectragraph reader. All were either tucked away in wooden boxes or on a bench with years of dust on them. In the image archive, thousands upon thousands of 8x10 glass and film photographic plates were safely tucked away in envelopes and stored in filing cabinets. I was even allowed to study under a magnifier a glass plate of M92 a globular cluster taken by the 40-inch refractor. The weather is good tonight and I have some time on the 40-inch refractor.

That night we began with Saturn. The view was really unremarkable due to the seeing being somewhat poor. Saturns moons did jump right out at you and were quite obvious as well as the Cassini Division. Atmospheric turbulence created sort of a false color rendition of Saturn that was a little distracting. On a scale of 1-5, I gave Saturn a 2. Next the great refractor was positioned over the crater Gassendi on the Moon. Now this was very spectacular. Detail was phenominal and the amount of small craterlets visible in the mare areas was incredible. I gave the Moon a 4. The next object was Mars. The atmosphere had settled down a bit and some terrain features were obvious, but not detailed. The south polar cap was very obvious and sharp. I could tell that on a night of exceptional seeing, the 40-inch refractor's performance on Mars would be spectacular. Due to the seeing Mars was a solid 3. Following Mars, the staff slewed the telescope to the globular cluster M15. Now here is where the 40-inch really performs. M15's stars were well resolved all the way to the core. M15 is a small globular, not as spectacular as M13, but it was well worth the view through the big refractor. I gave the M15 view a solid 4.5. The finale object was NGC7662, better know as the Blue Snowball Nebula. It is a planetary nebula located in Andromeda ~2000-6000 Lyrs distant @ mag 8.6. The 40-inch blew this one away. This nebula had a very obvious electric blue color with a very prominent inner shell. At the center, with averted vision its small white dwarf was evident. I spent the most time on this object and I give the view of the Blue Snowball a solid 5. This has been an awesome, once in a lifetime trip.
Written 25 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Maureen M
9 contributions
Saturday tour and 40" refractory tour
Sep 2018 • Family
We recently did the Saturday historical tour which was excellent-loads of information about the what went into building the observatory, the connection to Chicago and the advances in science. The outreach and education programs for the local community and Chicago in partnership with the Adler Planetarium has been instrumental in making science available and approachable for generations. A wonderful institution that has served the science community. A treasure.
Written 24 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Kristin K
3 contributions
Yerkes Observatory
Sep 2018 • Friends
Such a cool place to see. Lots of interesting archecture and seeing the huge telescope was very cool
Written 22 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes Observatory is open:
  • Sat - Sat 12:00 - 12:15


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