The University of Chicago

373 W. Geneva St, Williams Bay WI 53191 (Latitude 42 34.2, Longitude -88 33.4)
Dome structure

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.
Yerkes Observatory occupies a unique niche for the educational 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 is 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 is open for free public tours  every Saturday throughout the year. We also offer group tours or special programs.

Upcoming Events

  • Observe through a Big Telescope
    Throughout the year, weather permitting, Yerkes Observatory offers evening observing sessions for adults and kids aged twelve and up. Participants look at a variety of fascinating celestial objects through a large, modern 24-inch diameter telescope....more...
  • Stars at Yerkes Teacher Professional Development
    Join the Yerkes Outreach Educators professional learning community in monthly workshops designed for teachers, informal program leaders, and amateur astronomers.

    Registration links for upcoming workshops:
    Stars at Yerkes Book Club Discussion and Teacher Workshop: Saturday March 16, 2013
    We will be examining the red planet of Mars through the lens of Mary Roach's book "Packing for Mars"

    For more info and to register, cick here
  • Yerkes Public Star Parties
    See galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, planets and more through telescopes on the south lawn of Yerkes Observatory. Hear some interesting talks about astronomy and space. Join astronomy enthusiasts for indoor and outdoor, clear or cloudy activities. The fee for these events is $5.-/person or $15.-/family (per event)
    For event dates and registration, click here
  • Yerkes High School Night Program
    For more info about the event and registration click here
  • 2013 Yerkes Astrophysics Academy for Young Scientists (YAAYS) Camps
    Students in grades 5-8 can learn and have fun with science and engineering in summer day camps. This year we are offering two camps from June 11-14 for 7th-8th graders and June 18-21 for 5th-6th graders. In addition tothese two camps we also are offering a "YAAYS Mentors Program" for students in grades 8-12 from June 10-14 and 17-21.
    For more info and applications, click here
  • International Migratory Bird Event
    In this free event, children in grades K - 6 and their parents will learn about and experience the joy of migratory birds.... For more information and registration, click here

The education programs are made possible in part through SOFIA Outreach at Yerkes Observatory.

University of Chicago Press release: Middle schoolers to explore sky with robotic telescopes

Yerkes Study Group (YSG)
The Yerkes Study Group was formed to explore the best use of Yerkes Observatory as a future site for a regional center for science education. To download the final report (pdf file) of the YSG click here
Yerkes Obs