From season to season the evening sky changes slowly and reveals many different celestial wonders visible with, and without, optical aid. Every month during the year, on select weekday and weekend evenings, Yerkes Observatory offers observing sessions with our 40-inch diameter refractor telescope, the largest lens telescope in the world, and with our 24-inch diameter reflector telescope, weather permitting, for participants who are age 10 and older.
Both telescopes were formerly used for astronomical research and are now available for public observing opportunities. For most participants either one will likely be the largest telescope they will have access to for viewing the night sky in detail. The difference between the views presented by the refractor vs. the reflector is dramatic, though. For an affordable, general night sky tour and introduction to astronomy we suggest reservations with the 24-inch reflector. For a truly once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable observing experience using the same telescope as some very famous astronomers over the past century, we suggest the 40-inch refractor.
We are currently accepting observing reservations for the following dates through May 2017 with the 40-inch refractor:
March 23, 24, 25, 26 and 31.
Programs begin at 8:00 pm
April 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 27, 28, 29 and 30. Programs begin at 8:30 pm
May 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Programs begin at 8:45 pm
June 2017 dates for public observing with the 40-inch refractor will be posted here by April 20.
We are currently accepting observing reservations for the following dates through April 2017 with the 24-inch reflector:
March 23, 24, 25 and 26.Programs begin at 8:00 pm
April 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27.Programs begin at 8:15 pm
May 2017 dates for public observing with the 24-inch reflector will be posted here by April 20.
40-inch refractor programs last about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. 24-inch reflector programs last about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Public observing events with the large telescopes at Yerkes are very popular and often sell out quickly. Space on each tour is limited and subject to availability. Scheduled sessions can be canceled due to adverse weather conditions (clouds, rain, snow, very cold temperatures or high winds) and, in rare circumstances, Observatory event conflicts that arise after public observing dates have been announced, or due to equipment problems.
The program costs are $100 per person for the 40-inch refractor program and $37.50 per person for the 24-inch reflector program, payable the evening of the event by cash, VISA or Mastercard. Reservations are required and can be made by email only at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use this email address for reservations and questions concerning the telescope programs only.
For information and questions about other Yerkes tours please email email@example.com (monitored seven days a week) or call us at 262-245-5555, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, weekdays. The Observatory office is not staffed outside of these hours or on weekends.
When requesting reservations include the name of the group organizer, an email address they can access the day of the event, their cell phone number and the number of people in the party. Reservation requests will be answered by an Observatory representative via email with additional information and instructions pertinent to your visit.
Scheduled event dates are removed from the above listings as quickly as possible after each sells out. During spring evenings from the dark sky environment at Yerkes you may see superb views of the moon, constellations, hundreds of stars, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, the Milky Way, an occasional meteor and artificial satellites. Binoculars can enhance your viewing experience, but are not necessary.
For information about regularly scheduled Saturday tours, weekday tours, and other events, please click here.