The world's largest refracting telescope is located at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It was used by many well-known space researchers in the past. The facility was recently donated to the Yerkes Future Foundation by the University of Chicago. The foundation has plans to refurbish the 123-year-old facility, and hope to have it open to the public as soon as spring 2021. The many refurbishments will improve research capabilities and the very structure itself.
The observatory possesses six domes, the largest being 90 feet tall. The property contains laboratories and a vault with images of stars, planets, and remote solar systems. These archives have been harvested by many great minds over the years. The property also offers two houses that will be renovated for visiting scholars. The $20 million non-profit effort hopes to keep the research facility viable for another century, serving both public and private events.
Several famed individuals who have made great contributions to the field of science have walked the observatory's floors. Albert Einstein walked the floors in 1921, as did Nobel Prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a famed space scientist, more recently, to name a few. The 73-foot diameter floor they walked on is actually a 37.5-ton elevator that goes up to the refracting telescope. Once at the refracting telescope, researchers have the ability to investigate the universe from afar.
The Yerkes Observatory has had a huge impact on the study of astronomy, and with the new renovations, it will lead to future discoveries. Ed Struble, director of buildings and grounds, says, “Any astronomy buff would think that this is the Holy Grail of astronomy.” People all over the world are excited to see the new and refurbished observatory and its future contributions to space science.
[Sources: Wisconsin State Journal; Chicago Sun-Times]