Sometimes in life you stumble across something amazing that you never knew was there. Well that happened to my family recently, when we came across Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. We knew nothing of the observatory until we came across a Facebook event posting for their recent Starlight Festival. Since our youngest geekling is fascinated by the cosmos, we decided to check it out.
Upon arriving, we quickly learned that Yerkes Observatory is not only an astronomical observatory, it houses the world’s largest refracting telescope. Its 40 inch diameter refracting telescope is the only successfully mounted telescope of its size. Yerkes is also considered the birthplace of modern astrophysics. Einstein has walked the halls of this historic building. My geeklings truly geeked out about that fact.
The observatory offers options for astronomy buffs and the casual stargazers alike. Their building tour holds gems of information that would be of interest to not just history lovers. They also offer:
Yerkes Observatory is a STEM wonderland. It is a fun day trip if you are in the Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin area. Unfortunately, they are potentially closing as of October 1, 2018, as the University of Chicago plans to discontinue their funding of the site. They are hoping to find a new benefactor, but at this time, a decision about their future has not been announced. With there being a possibility of the observatory being open for a just few more months, I recommend checking it out sooner than later.