The birthplace of modern astrophysics
Yerkes Observatory is a facility of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Chicago. It was established in 1897 on Geneva Lake in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Until the mid-1960's, Yerkes Observatory housed all of the Department's activities. Today the 77-acre, park-like site in southeast Wisconsin provides laboratory space and access to telescopes for research and instruction.
Yerkes Observatory occupies a unique niche for the educational and the scientific community. It bridges several important perspectives in formal and informal education. The history of astronomy and astrophysics of the observatory is a solid foundation for introducing all the important topics in current research as well as the practice of observational astronomy. There is a huge range of opportunities for learning. Because of Yerkes' historical context, the world of professional and student astronomers and astronomy educators is drawn to the observatory. These communities learn from one another, build relationships, and create programs, which result in enriched experiences and learning opportunities for young and diverse members of our society.
Yerkes Observatory is open for public tours every Saturday throughout the year. We also offer group tours and special programs.
- Regular Saturday Tours
Yerkes Observatory is open to the public from 9:45 am to 1:30pm every
Saturday throughout the year. Guided tours begin at 10:00 am, 11:00 am and
For more information, click here
- Weekday Tours
Visitors may tour Yerkes Observatory most weekday mornings or afternoons.
Weekday Tour Schedule, September 2016 to May 2017:
Sept 1 - Oct 28, 2016, 10:00 am, 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
Oct 31, 2016 - May 24, 2017: 11am and 2pm
Our full 2017 tour schedule will be released in early March.
The Yerkes Gift Shop is open 10:30 am to 3 pm weekdays.
Weekday visitors should plan to arrive no more than five to ten minutes
before their selected tour time. A tour guide will meet visitors on the
front (north) steps. Yerkes is a working scientific and educational
facility. The building's doors are always locked except during Saturday
tour hours for security reasons. The Observatory is open only for guided
tours Monday through Friday at the times shown above. Self-guided tours
of the building's interior are not available.
The weekday tour cost is $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age
6-17. Children under age 6 are admitted at no charge. Daytime tours are
most appropriate for ages 6 and up. Reservations are not required for
individuals or for groups of 25 or less people.
For types of tours, pricing and more info
- Observe through a Big Telescope
Throughout the year, weather permitting, Yerkes Observatory offers evening observing sessions for visitors age 10 and up. Participants have a unique opportunity to view at a variety of fascinating celestial objects through either 40-inch refractor or 24-inch reflector telescopes...
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Give the gift of astronomy to your friends and family! Gift certificates valid for 15 months may be purchased for the Yerkes 40-inch and 24-inch telescope viewing programs. Please call 262-245-5555 ext. 825 for more information and to purchase a gift certificate, or email email@example.com
Magic of Astronomy Star Party - October 22nd
Yerkes Observatory, in collaboration with the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Astronomy Club, will be hosting a Harry Potter-themed stargazing party at the observatory. Come in costume, wands at the ready! This is a family event in which visitors will encounter the mysterious and magical world of astronomy and astrophysics.
For more information and to register, please click here
The education programs are made possible in part through SOFIA Outreach at Yerkes Observatory.