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Yerkes Observatory

373 West Geneva Street

By chance the new Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, George Hale, discovers that two optically perfect disks are available. These 42-inch "blanks" could be ground to create a 40-inch refracting telescope, the largest in the world. He and the dynamic president of the university set off to find a donor willing to purchase these disks; build the telescope; and pay for a "suitable observatory" to house the World's Largest Telescope. For more in depth history, visit the links on the left hand side of the page.


Ham Solo

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Beautiful building on exceptional grounds. Located on scenic lake Geneva. Tours are awesome and informative. Great place to visit for an hour or two. Parking is a bit tight. This place has to stay open for tomorrow's astronomers. Small gift shop. Tours are $10 (cash or credit). Well worth the trip.

Zhenhao Shi

Sunday, March 11, 2018
This place is amazing and the tour is wonderful. My wife and I were not expecting much before the tour, but we felt surprised and impressed by what we received. The tour guide provided us a very meaningful tour, including the description of the architecture details. There were many symbols embedded in the architecture details. The tour guide gave very interesting interpolation and explanation about how these symbols may be related to the founder and the functions of this historic observatory. The director Dan showed us how the amazing telescope operates in its usual working status. What impressed us the most is the enthusiasm of people who work in this observatory. We can feel they really love this place and this job. We are very grateful what they have done, not only maintaining this old facility, saving this site with historic meaning, but also educating and exciting people who have ever visited this observatory.

Ted Hertel

Friday, May 18, 2018
A great place for the history of astronomy. The observatory was built in the late 1800s and contains the largest retracting telescope (40") in the world. Best to go on a Saturday when they demonstrate the elevator that lifts the entire floor under the telescope and they open the doors facing the sky. But after October 2018 U of Chicago is discontinuing its connection to the site. What happens then is still to be decided.

Kim S

Sunday, May 20, 2018
Beautiful building, architecture and grounds that embodies some hidden historical humor and drama! Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. An engineer by trade. We were given a live demonstration and explanation of the telescope. Amazing! I plan to go back for one of the night time programs to see thru the telescope.

safira sharieff

Sunday, March 11, 2018
We drove to Lake Geneva and discovered this gem on our way there. Luckily we made it in time for the noon tour. We had two tour guides, one for the architecture and another for the telescope. Both were outstanding. The architecture discussion was fascinating and amusing as the architect has memorialized several important individuals associated with Yerkes in humorous depictions. The telescope itself is a wonder. We are definitely heading back for a private viewing. The gift shop is lovely and we bought a few souvenirs.

Yerkes Observatory is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media