Built between 1895 and 1897, Yerkes Observatory has been a popular attraction for visitors to the Geneva Lake area for nearly 100 years. Yerkes houses the world’s largest refracting telescope, containing a 40-inch lens. Free tours are held every Saturday year-round at 10 A.M., 11 A.M., and noon. Slides, books, constellation finders, and guides to the nighttime sky are available at the sales counter.
Architect Henry Ives Cobb, known for his flamboyant style, designed the dome and connecting building. Visitors are welcome to walk around the building exterior to enjoy the variety of symbolic and sometimes whimsical sculptures. Inside, green marble walls and oak trim set off elaborate geometric designs and figures within the central rotunda.
There are five telescopes at Yerkes Observatory, which is a University of Chicago research facility. It is part of a consortium which operates a 3.5-meter telescope in New Mexico.
Today, astronomers use the 40-inch refractor at Yerkes to measure the motion and distance of nearby stars. Studying stellar atmospheres helps astrophysicists determine the age of stars within the Milky Way galaxy. And studying distant galaxies and quasars outside our galaxy reveals information about physical processes and the formation, changes and possible fate of our universe.
For information about special programs or tours, call 262-245-5555 during regular business hours, or visit: