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Yerkes Observatory at Fontana
Yerkes Observatory
373 W Geneva Street, Williams Bay, Wisconsin, 53191 | 262-245-5555
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Lake Geneva Yerkes Observatory

Completed in 1897 and continuously owned by The University of Chicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yerkes Observatory, known as the "birthplace of modern astrophysics," offers daytime public tours Monday through Saturday throughout the year.  Their knowledgeable, experienced and entertaining tour guides conduct walking tours that last about 50 minutes describing the Observatory's history, the interior and exterior architectural detail and a look inside the 90-foot dome at the 40-inch refractor telescope, still the largest lens-type instrument in the world.  
 

Details

Prices -

The cost for all daytime tours is $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age 6 to 17.  Children under age 6 are admitted at no charge.  Yerkes tours and displays are most appropriate for ages 6 and up.  Reservations are not necessary for groups of 25 or less people on weekdays or Saturdays.
 

Hours -

Check the website for current tour times and general information. The Observatory is closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/index.html
 

Events

  • Evening observing sessions
  • Group tours
  • Wedding ceremonies & corporate events
 
 

Activities

  • Quester Museum
  • Time & space exhibits
  • Guided observatory tours
  • Gift shop
 
 

FAQs

  • Is parking available at the Observatory?

    Yes, there is parking in front of Yerkes Observatory, at 373 West Geneva Street.
  • Are visitors able to use the telescope?

    Many viewing opportunities with the Yerkes 24-inch reflector and 40-inch refractor telescopes are offered every month of the year.  Public observing schedules are posted on the website.  Registration and payment of a fee are required to participate.
  • Can I tour the observatory on my own?

    Yerkes is a working scientific and educational facility and the building is secured at all times.  Weekday visitors are greeted at the front (north) entrance five to 10 minutes prior to each tour time and are required to be accompanied by a tour guide throughout their stay at Yerkes.  Self-guided tours of the building's main floor, displays and museum are only available on Saturdays from 9:45 am to 1:30 pm (10:45 am to 1:30 pm January 6 to April 28, 2018). All visits to the 90-foot dome housing the 40-inch refractor occur with an Observatory representative.
 
 

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Distance from attraction: 3.6 miles
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