One of the questions the Innkeepers at the B&B get asked a lot is “what is that building with the dome that we seen on our way in?” “Ahhh” replies the Innkeeper on duty, “You are talking about Yerkes Observatory!”
Usually they will ask for more information on the history of it, and how they can tour it….we thought if they were interested, potential guests might be interested as well, so a blog post on this stunning piece of history and architecture that is just a stone’s throw from Lazy Cloud Bed and Breakfast was definitely in order.
Yerkes Observatory was established in the 1890’s by the University of Chicago. The observatory is home to three telescopes including the 40-inch refractor, the largest refracting telescope in the world. This one-of-a-kind marvel is housed in a 90-foot dome, one of the largest of its kind ever built, and the 73-foot wooden floor surrounding the telescope is actually an elevator that raises star gazers to the eyepiece for a peak at the Milky Way and beyond.
Up until the mid 1960’s, the Observatory housed all of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics activities for the University of Chicago. Today the 77-acre, park-like site in southeast Wisconsin provides laboratory space and access to telescopes for research and instruction. Additionally, the park like setting could easily double as a nature preserve; in fact it is a great spot to picnic during the summer and fall season.
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.
Free public tours of Yerkes are offered every Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. Highlights include a brief history of the facility, a timeline display chronicling the Observatory’s early history (be sure to look for the photo of Albert Einstein’s visit to Yerkes) and of course, a tour of the telescope. A gift shop offers authentic meteorites, VCR tapes, color postcards, T-shirts, sweatshirts, scientific kits, books, guides to the stars and planets, and many other science and astronomy-related items. And speaking of stars, Yerkes served as a main location in the 1996 Keanu Reeves film “Chain Reaction.”
If you haven’t visited the observatory yet, then a visit to Williams Bay should definitely be on the calendar this summer. And if you have been meaning to stay with us, this would certainly be the perfect opportunity since you are right down the road from us….why not give us a call today at 262-275-3322 to book your favorite suite today.
Lazy Cloud offers premier Lake Geneva lodging for couples looking for a romantic getaway. We are one of the few Lake Geneva hotels with jacuzzi in room for two. Our Lake Geneva bed and breakfast provides wonderful amenities with whirlpools for two that have a view of the fireplace in every suite and room. Because we offer this, we are a great place for honeymoon getaways. We are located in southeastern Wisconsin – only 90 minutes from Chicago and an hour from Milwaukee & Madison.