‘No longer makes sense:’ UChicago activities at Yerkes Observatory to end in Oct. after 100+ years

WILLIAMS BAY -- The University of Chicago will no longer operate the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay as of Oct. 1, 2018.

According to a statement on the university's website, the observatory was established by the university in 1897.  David Fithian, the executive VP of the university said in the statement "unfortunately, operating Yerkes no longer makes sense for the university from a programmatic or cost standpoint. Drawing to a close our operations there is the first step in a collaborative process to determine the ultimate disposition of the buildings and property."

Yerkes Observatory

The statement notes that "despite its important history, the Yerkes facility and its instrumentation no longer contribute directly to the research mission of the University of Chicago, which has made major investments in the Magellan and Giant Magellan telescopes in Chile."

The university will wind down its activities at the observatory over the next six months, and this summer's season will be the final season of university activities there.

The statement from the university says "the university is announcing the plans well in advance in order to engage with Yerkes staff and nearby communities, including the village of Williams Bay, in considering long-term plans for the property."

Yerkes has continued to make important contributions through its education and outreach programs, university officials said, and that work, which remains important to the university, will now relocate to the Hyde Park campus.