The photographic explorations of a former film student.

The Aged and Beautiful Yerkes Observatory

Last month, the local photo club decided to visit Yerkes Observatory. It is connected with the University of Chicago, but located in a small town in Wisconsin. Built in 1895, it houses what was the largest telescope of the time. Many astrophysicists studied there over the years. Albert Einstein even visited in the early 1920s. You can read more about the observatory here: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/

We began with an educational tour and a look at the telescope itself. Not the best conditions for photography, but I had to get a few shots.

The floor in the telescope area moves up and down. During the tour, we were sitting on the edges of the building, which remain stationary. Our guide announced that he would go over to the desk and raise the center floor while whistling the theme from Star Trek. He was rather good at it. Here is the somewhat Original Series looking control desk.

ControlDesk

After lunch, Dad and I stuck around for exterior photographs. This is the largest dome anong with the entryway to the building.

EntryAndLgDome

On the other end, there are two smaller domes and more ornate carvings.

CornerDetail

Dad wanted to stick around and see if the sun would come out. While waiting, I photographed some of the carving on the entryway pillars. The Satyr is a caricature of Mr. Yerkes. According to the tour guide, he was one of the not so well-loved wealthy industrialists of his time. He built the observatory to improve his image with the public, which is why it is such a grand building.

YerkesSatyr

The architect was a bit eccentric. No one knows what all the caricatures and symbols on the building mean because he had his son burn his papers upon his death. He also made fun of Rockefeller. Originally, there was a bee stinging Rockefeller’s nose, but he visited the observatory, and the powers that be thought they should have all the bees chiseled off the columns before he arrived.

Rockefeller

Moons, stars, and the man in the moon also grace the pillars.

ManInMoon

Wandering around the building, I noticed that the side doors were not as well-kept as the fronts – not at all. This did not surprise me, as I imaging keeping up a grand old building of that size is a challenge. The peeling paint and old door knob had a nice rustic quality about them, so I thought they’d make an interesting shot.

SideDoorknob

Finally, Dad got what he was waiting for. The sun came out.

EntrySunnyDomeLS

Next Time: Flowers or Old Camera

Spring is coming slowly. If it doesn’t come fast enough, I’ve purchased an old Kodak folding Autograph and an Argus I’d like to do posts on sometime.

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2 responses

  1. Iriz Chan

    Beautiful! That’s one of the amazing things about carrying a camera with you, never get bored. Interesting carvings. πŸ™‚

    April 28, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    • It’s such a wonderfully weird building. πŸ™‚
      If I didn’t have my camera, I’d feel like I never truly went anywhere. It makes me slow down and look at things carefully.

      May 2, 2016 at 3:28 am

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