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Yerkes Observatory

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#1 clang


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:27 PM

Haven't posted here in a while and I don't do astro-photography, so I thought I would share a few pictures of Yerkes Observatory. I was up near Lake Geneva and drove by to take a quick look. Here are a few pictures:
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This is a close-up of the columns, lots of images from the Zodiac in the terra cotta:

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It's worrht the trip just to see the outside of the building - it really is beautifull. So many details that could never be done on a modern building due to added costs.

The University is spending a lot of money refurbishing the building, work is going to continue for another couple of years.

Free tours are given on Saturdays and private tours can be arranged in advance most other days at the cost of $25 for up to 5 people. COntact info is on their website:


I did not have time this trip for the tour, but will make it back one day soon.

#2 sopticals


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 03:05 AM

You have captured a great piece of history on camera.The 40" refractor(the worlds biggest),is a monument to the "grit" the builders had in producing the "mother of all refractor objectives".However the future catches up and overtakes the past, so I expect there are many amateur scopes around that will give similar/better performance in optical terms today.


#3 David-in-China


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 03:23 AM

It's great news to hear Yerkes is still active and still intact. The last news I saw indicated some developer wanted to buy the property and turn it into a condo project.

I remember being in awe as I visited for the first time as an 8-9 yr old in the mid-50s.

Quite an important historic place; glad to hear there's continuing interest.

#4 RobertED



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Posted 04 November 2012 - 09:44 PM

Awesome pics!!!!

#5 rocketsteve


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Posted 04 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

Love the architecture!

#6 NeilMac



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Posted 04 November 2012 - 11:23 PM

Nice !!!

#7 Kaelin


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Posted 06 November 2012 - 02:18 PM

A memorable place.

Btw, the close-up on the column has its own bit of history. Here's a link that describes it:


Here's an excerpt from that link:

"Zodiac symbols appear on sets of pillars flanking the building’s front entrance, on twin globes atop the roof, and at various points along the outside walls. In an alcove just outside the front door there’s a relief of the phases of the moon, complete with whimsical man-in-the-moon faces. There are representations of constellations like Ursae Majoris in the form of a bear, or Draco, a dragon. There are even Chinese symbols of an eclipse: a dragon devouring the sun.

Other details point to people associated with the building’s history. The terra-cotta pillars in the entranceway were constructed in three identical sections, each pillar turned a slightly different way so visitors can see the details on all sides. Among the repeated images is a calm face that looks like photos of William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago. Another grimacing face is supposed to be Rainey too, in a less happy mood.

A face with a large, swollen nose that once had a bee or hornet atop of it was rumored to be John D. Rockefeller being 'stung' for funds for the University of Chicago. Officials there were supposedly so upset by the story, they demanded all the bees be chiseled off. Dreiser said there’s no proof of the Rockefeller connection, but the bees have disappeared.

Faces of fauns and satyrs, mythical creatures who were half-man, half-goat, are found near the entrance, including two who look like Charles Tyson Yerkes, the Chicago millionaire who funded the observatory."

#8 GeneT


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Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:49 PM

A beautiful observatory housing a fantastic telescope.

#9 Raginar



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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:31 AM

I just realized this is only 60 miles from my Mom's. I need to go see it when I head back there.


#10 av8or


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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:46 AM

One of my most memorable experiences was touring that great big refractor and setting my own scope on the lawn for a public observing event. Thanks for sharing your photos!!

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