Tag Archive | astronomy

Yerkes Observatory in William’s Bay-Our Last Tour

5-21-18  Closed-Oct. 1st, 2018

Watch tour we took below.

We had just recently heard the news that Yerkes Observatory will be closing on October 1st of this year and knew we had to hurry back to take another tour before they ended.  The news had just been announced a week or two earlier.

My first visit was actually in 6th grade in February 1977. Here is a picture I took then.

We went together for the first time in 2012. Richard Dreiser has been giving almost all of the tours since 1980, 38 years!  Six years later, he said he remembered us and was happy to see us again.  He is really nice and we will miss him. He is writing a book though about Yerkes so we look forward to getting that when it’s published.

It wasn’t really crowded since the news only just came out about the closure a week or so earlier. We heard that the tour groups in September were quite large. We could look around the hallway shortly before the tour started.

The back of the hallway was cordoned off, it wasn’t in 2012. Let’s see what is back there.

Richard began by showing some beautiful photos taken by the Yerkes telescope and others in the hallway adjacent to the lobby.

After discussing these photos, we then moved out to the lobby. It is quite beautiful, decorated with terracotta accents, marble floor and a skylight in the ceiling. The light fixtures are original too. The building was officially opened in 1897.

Al Kutil

Under the skylight.

Richard pointed out the many features in the decorative artwork of the building in the lobby area.  Faces, angels, and owls abound!

We then moved outside, where Richard pointed out the many distinguishing features in the artwork on the columns and above the door. Art is everywhere at this building, something you don’t see anymore.

Then, we went back in and concluded the tour at the big telescope. We could not go up on the platform on this visit.

Yerkes had been visited by many scientists, including Albert Einstein in this group photo taken in the 20’s.

We all got a special treat that most people don’t get to see, the dome rotating (see video at 48:33).  He went to the console on the right side of the dome and made the adjustments.



Laurie Kutil 2012

Our tour came to a conclusion 10 minutes later, Richard spent the remaining time answering questions. Went back down the stairs.

Saw the library and stopped in the gift shop.

Our visit concluded here. We are sad this valuable resource is no longer a part of the University in Chicago.  However, it may reopen again at later date under new ownership. I will update this post if this happens. We hope Richard will be hired to continue his excellent tours. Meanwhile, enjoy the video of the original tour.

Starstruck at Yerkes Observatory


We took a field trip to Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI.  This was the same day we went to Genoa City for the fish boil. We arrived at around 11:00 AM.

Yerkes sign.


I was at this observatory in Feb 1978 when I was 12 for a class trip. I am a big astronomy fan and was glad to find a chance to come back.  We got here in time for the noon tour.  Before the tour, we stepped outside to where a group of people were gathered around a telescope. Our tour guide and astronomer Richard Dreiser who worked there was projecting an image of the sun on a white piece of paper.  We had a chance to see sunspots. How cool! too bad there was not an eclipse that day, it would have been more crowded too 🙂

Looking for sunspots

Looking for sunspots

We were not disappointed, there were sunspots that day.


After that we began the tour.  The best part was going into the main observatory to see the BIG telescope.  The facility also houses two smaller scopes in the two other domes on the other side of the huge building.


Just as impressive was the outside, Here is the main observatory plus the two lesser ones.  The building was too wide for my old camera to get it all in one shot so I split it up..




It was quite exciting to go back there after so many years and to reminisce.