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. A substantial fraction of the University's library holdings in astronomy are housed at Yerkes. Yerkes Education and Outreach Yerkes Observatory occupies a unique niche for the education 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 are 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 has from its inception united physics, astronomy, and engineering. Education programs seek to show these relationships by engaging learners in observational astronomy using the telescopes at Yerkes, studying the astrophysics of cosmological phenomena, and designing, building and using instruments. Currently engineers are constructing the HAWC instrument, which is an imaging camera for the NASA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Concurrently teachers and students in programs at Yerkes learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, and participate in Active Astronomy investigations of circuits, detectors and infrared light, as a component of outreach for SOFIA. Visiting Yerkes Observatory: General Information Free Saturday Tours Throughout the Year Yerkes Observatory is open for free public tours every Saturday throughout the year, except when the Saturday is on or very close to December 25 and January 1. Regular Saturday tours are designed for families and other small groups. Programs begin at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and Noon and last about forty-five minutes. We don't take reservations. While there is no charge, we appreciate a suggested donation of five dollars per person. If there are more than fifteen in your group, please consider making arrangements for a private program at some other time. If you wish to do so, please call 262 245-5555, extension 832. During the tours, the tour guide provides a brief talk on the history of Yerkes, astronomical research, and our amazing Universe. He will also take visitors into the 90-foot dome, one of the largest of its kind ever built. Here, visitors look at the famed 40-inch Refractor, the world's biggest lens-type telescope, and its impressive 73-foot diameter elevator floor. Note that the dome interior is unheated, and during late fall and winter temperatures inside are as chilly as out doors. Please dress appropriately. Before or after the tour, visitors may look at a Timeline display on the main floor that covers Yerkes Observatory's early history and is adorned with dozens of photographs from the 1890s. Other hall displays concentrate on comets, galaxies, nebulae, and the death of stars. Also, visit the Quester Museum, which celebrates Yerkes Observatory astronomers who had a profound impact on both the scientific and local communities within the last century. The Questers have documented the connections between the Williams Bay community and the lives of some of the famous astronomers who had careers strongly associated with Yerkes. The museum is located in the southeast transept of the main floor, and is open during the normal public hours (Saturdays 10 am - 1 pm). The project was realized by volunteers (Explorare Questers) with an interest in local history. A gift shop offers authentic meteorites, color postcards, T-shirts, sweatshirts, scientific kits, books, guides to the stars and planets, and many other science and astronomy-related items. Visiting Yerkes Observatory: Groups and Special Programs Monthly 24-inch Telescope Observing Programs Yerkes Observatory offers special opportunities throughout the month for people age twelve and older to observe selected objects through a two-foot diameter telescope normally reserved for education outreach and research. The charge is $25.00 per person and you need to make advanced reservations as we can accommodate only twelve participants. Call 262 245-5555, extension 832 for a list of dates. Following a brief introduction to the night sky as seen outdoors with the unaided eye, participants will look through the 24-inch reflector at several lovely astronomical objects such as the Moon, planets, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. Participants must be able to climb 39 steps up into the NE dome that houses the 24-inch reflector. The dome is unheated so dress appropriately! Star Parties on the Lawn Throughout the Year Weather permitting, people aged eight and up may observe on a date of your choosing with telescopes outside on the lawn. Our guide will help you observe with both the unaided eye and through an eight or ten-inch diameter telescope. The night sky is always changing, so, you may get to see the Moon, stars and constellations, nebulae, planets, the Milky Way, meteors, and, moving overhead, artificial satellites. We offer such observing programs for up to twenty-five at a time. Because of ongoing research and the variability of weather conditions, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to observe, however, we may be able to provide you with a rain date or substitute a color slide show. You need to make advanced reservations by calling 262 245-5555, extension 832. Special Programs, Day or Night You may make advanced arrangements for a private program for people aged eight and up to be held day or night. Certain restrictions apply as to the times, dates, and the number of participants. For a charge of $100.00 an hour per group, we can provide a one to three-hour program from among the following: 1) Enjoy "The Wonders of the Universe," or another slide show program at Yerkes Observatory or a place of your choosing. If the weather does not cooperate for a scheduled observing program, we may substitute this program at the last minute. 2) Participate in a mini-class: "An Introduction to Spectroscopy", or, "How to use a Star Finder" at Yerkes Observatory or a place of your choosing. We provide materials you may purchase. 3) Learn about the history and fascinating architectural detail of this University of Chicago astrophysical research center completed in 1897. Look at but not through the 40-inch Refractor within the 90-foot dome. 4) See our hallway displays. Look over our popular gift shop which offers authentic meteorites, color postcards, T-shirts, sweatshirts, scientific kits, books, guides to the stars and planets, and other science and astronomy items. You need to make advanced reservations for any of the above programs. Call 262 245-5555, extension 832. Corporate Events Throughout the year Yerkes Observatory can host special corporate events. You may make arrangements for outside catering. These programs can include tours, and, weather permitting, observing through telescopes. Call 262 245-5555, extension 832 for a price schedule and other details. Directions to Yerkes Observatory From Chicago: Take Highway 94 North to Highway 50. Turn left, and go west on highway 50 into the city of Lake Geneva. Proceed about six miles to the intersection of Highway 67. You will see Mercy Clinic on your left. Turn left onto Highway 67 and continue downhill almost exactly one mile (you will pass Charlio-O's Restaurant on your right) to where Highway 67 does a t-intersection with Geneva Street (the Williams Bay Fire Department is immediately ahead of you). Turn right, and go uphill, curving to your left on Highway 67/Geneva Street almost exactly one mile up to the unlit brown sign with white lettering that says YERKES OBSERVATORY. (Please note that, because of ongoing research, our sign is NOT lit up.) Turn into the Yerkes Observatory Drive, and park in front of the Observatory. (If you see the illuminated Aurora University sign on your left, you've gone exactly one block too far. Turn around.) From Milwaukee or Beloit: Take Highway 43 all the way to the Highway 67 Elkhorn/Williams Bay exit. Turn south onto Highway 67 towards Williams Bay, and drive about six miles to the intersection of Highway 50. Cross Highway 50 (you will see Mercy Clinic immediately on your left) Continue downhill almost exactly one mile (you will pass Charlie-O's Restaurant on your right) to where Highway 67 does a t-intersection with Geneva Street (the Williams Bay Fire Department is immediately ahead of you). Turn right, and go uphill, curving to your left on Highway 67/Geneva Street almost exactly one mile up to the unlit brown sign with white lettering that says YERKES OBSERVATORY. (Please note that, because of ongoing research, our sign is NOT lit up.) Turn into the Yerkes Observatory Drive, and park in front of the Observatory. (If you see the illuminated Aurora University sign on your left, you've gone exactly one block too far. Turn around.) 373 West Geneva Street Williams Bay, Wisconsin 53191 USA 262-245-5555 To contact us to get information on: Engineering Services: Call 262-245-5555 FAX 262-245-9805 E-mail Jim Gee Educational Programs: Call 262-245-5555 (extension 815) FAX 262-245-9805 E-mail Vivian Hoette Tours: Call 262-245-5555 (extension 832) FAX 262-245-9805 E-mail Richard Dreiser LINK: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/