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Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes Observatory

Tours

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.  Our 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.  Check the website for current tour times and general information. The Observatory is closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. 

Yerkes is a working scientific and educational facility. Upon arrival, visitors will find the building’s doors locked for security purposes.  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. All visits to the 90-foot dome housing the 40-inch refractor occur with an Observatory representative. 
The cost for weekday 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.
Every Saturday the Yerkes staff maintains a tradition dating back 100 years by welcoming visitors to tour the main floor of the building, our displays and museum and the 40-inch refractor for a suggested donation of $8 per person, curently.  Tour times are 10 am, 11 am and 12Noon and last approximately 50 minutes.
Groups of 25 or more people are encouraged to make advance arrangements for a private tour at a mutually agreeable time Monday through Saturday by calling 262-245-5555, ext. 825, weekdays between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.  Our office is not staffed outside of these hours or on weekends.  Email requests can be sent to [email protected]  The mailbox is monitored continuously.

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.
The interior of the 90-foot dome is not temperature controlled.  Visitors should dress appropriately on the day of their visit as they would for outdoor activities.

At the end of every weekday tour, and from 9:45 am to 1:30 pm on Saturdays, visitors are encouraged to browse our unique gift shop featuring postcards, apparel, photos from the Observatory’s archives, jewelry, meteorites, posters, books and many unique items found only at Yerkes Observatory. 


Museums

Known as the birthplace of modern astrophysics, Yerkes Observatory is open to the public for daytime tours Monday through Saturday and evening telescope observing programs, year round, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  Daytime tours provide a fascinating overview of the Observatory’s history, architectural detail, astronomical research, and a look inside the 90-foot dome at the 40-inch refractor, still the largest lens-type telescope in the world. Evening observing tours are conducted with either the 40-inch refractor or the 24-inch reflector (mirror-type) telescopes. Check the website for a current schedule of daytime and evening program times.
 


Motorcoach/Group Tours

 Known as the birthplace of modern astrophysics, Yerkes Observatory is open to the public from 9:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Saturday throughout the year excluding Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tour guides provide a fascinating program covering the Observatory’s history, architectural detail, astronomical research, and a look inside the 90-foot dome at the 40-inch refractor, still the largest lens-type telescope in the world.Guided tours begin at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 12:15 p.m. and last 45 to 50 minutes; no reservations. A suggested donation of $8 per person is requested to support their public programs which are intended for families and small groups. Groups of 15 or more should consider reserving a private program outside of Saturday public tour hours. For availability and pricing, call 262-245-5555, extension 825, or email [email protected]


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