A Bit of History
We celebrated our 100th birthday in 1997 - our Department has had a long and quite colorful past. The founding genius was George Ellery Hale, who subsequently built the Mt. Wilson observatory, providing our graduate Edwin Hubble with the tools to discover the expansion of the Universe. Hale also co-founded the Astrophysical Journal, which was edited until 1971 within our Department. Other luminaries who have had strong associations with our Department are E. E. Barnard, Otto Struve, S. Chandrasekhar, Gerard Kuiper, William Morgan, Bengt Stromgren and David Schramm among many others.
The astrophysics program at the University of Chicago began with the building of the Yerkes Observatory, in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, where the entire Department was located. By the mid-sixties it had become clear that ties to the intellectual community on campus needed to be strengthened, and there was a shift of the center of mass from Wisconsin to Chicago. All of the academic programs are now on campus. Yerkes still provides laboratory facilities, contains the bulk of the library astronomy holdings outside of Crerar, and offers access to research telescopes and instruments for prototyping and instruction.