Author Topic: Yerkes last call (NGC)  (Read 377 times)

Online Moto

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Yerkes last call (NGC)
« on: August 18, 2018, 10:25:08 AM »
For astronomy and old machinery fans: Yerkes Observatory, housing the worlds largest refractor, is closing, possibly permanently, on Sept 2nd. I attended an observation program last night and thought I would pass along the information for any of you who might be in range to do the same. (We observed Saturn and globular cluster M2.)

Opened in the 1890's, the telescope and almost all its gear is over 120 years old. The twin motors spinning the dome, and raising the elevator floor (75 feet in diameter) are original. The elevator floor is so convenient that it was used to adjust the viewing height for individual observers, without any bother at all. The telescope had a digital control system installed in 1967 that later failed, and now they are back to the original operation mode, using the giant degree dials on the axes (and little telescopes to observe them) to point. Only the focuser and eyepiece are modern items.

Quite a memorable treat. The University of Chicago has decided to close it down, and no one there knows what the future holds for it. There will be observation sessions every suitable night between now and September 2nd. As far as I know there won't even be daytime hours after that, and the grounds as a whole might be closed.

Moto

P.S. Advance reservations are required, and there are only a few dates left with available slots. Here's the contact info: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/news.html. Though that web page says the observatory will be "temporarily" closed after Sept 2nd, the director and staff last night considered permanent closure a distinct possibility.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 10:36:07 AM by Moto »
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Offline oldbike54

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 10:33:27 AM »
 That will be a sad day indeed .

 Dusty
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Offline LowRyter

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2018, 10:34:59 AM »
a shame there is no way to fund it as an historic monument. 

Makes me wonder what this country will look like in a hundred years.  Will we have swaffs of abandoned buildings and communities just rotting away?
John L  (Guzzi's Chime at 9AM & Midnight)

Offline Lannis

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2018, 04:23:58 PM »
a shame there is no way to fund it as an historic monument. 

Makes me wonder what this country will look like in a hundred years.  Will we have swaffs of abandoned buildings and communities just rotting away?

Always a problem of "What to do when you're finished with it?"   We never really plan for that.   Here in our town, a big furniture factory was built in 1974 or so, employed 1100 people for 40 years.   It was the cheap sort of furniture sold in W**-M*** and such, but the market for that stuff went away or went overseas, so a few years ago it shut down.

Just a normal cycle, 40 years was a really good run, the payroll for the community was probably $250,000,000 over the life of the plant, good stuff.   But now it's done.   And it's almost impossible to re-purpose a purpose built furniture plant, with sawdust-handling and solvent-abatement equipment, big conveyors, etc.   

But nobody has the money to tear it down back to greenfield status.   Who's going to do it?   No one can use it, there's no incentive to tear it down .... Problem is, if the original builder had been required to escrow the money to decommission it when they were finished, there would have been no ROI and they never would have built it in the first place, and the community would never have had the benefit of it.   A thorny problem for sure.

Same problem for the Yerkes Observatory.   It's no longer usable for original research, so the university can't really justify operating it, but it's a beautiful old piece of equipment with lots of history; and yet who will pony up for it?   A non-profit foundation funded by people who believe in keeping it going, supported by entry fees, might work .... I think it would be great to be able to go and look through that thing at Saturn or the Andromeda Galaxy.    Maybe they'll get there ....

Lannis
The earth can't be flat.

If it were, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now ....

Online Chuck in Indiana

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 06:22:39 PM »
When we did the tour with the Kid and Nora several years ago, there were some "big money" interests wanting to develop that area.. need more mansions..  :evil:
Chuck in (Elwood) Indiana/sometimes SoCal

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Offline Huzo

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2018, 06:47:41 PM »
a shame there is no way to fund it as an historic monument. 

Makes me wonder what this country will look like in a hundred years.  Will we have swaffs of abandoned buildings and communities just rotting away?
It's already well started...
Same here in rural areas, the pack of dogs running our government/s, won't spend a lousy two bob on the infrastructure needed to keep the farms viable, all the while pumping mega bucks into the artificial world of our capital cities.
The real Australia is being over run by tea towel heads and corporate criminals whilst modern Oz is watching our history being sold overseas, and diluted down to bugger all.
I'm glad I'll be dead statistically in twenty years..
I hope my Norge and Hilux outlast me..
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 06:53:55 PM by Huzo »

Offline Lannis

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2018, 06:56:31 PM »
It's already well started..

Nothing sits still.   Everything moves forward; different buildings in different places evolve at different paces.   

Pontiac Silverdome - opened in 1975, ran for 35 years, shut down, now the last bit has been torn down and the land will be re-purposed.   

Old tobacco barn on my farm - built 1890, last barn of tobacco cured in 1965, now it's just standing there slowly deteriorating.  Not in the way, not worth tearing down.

Some of the old buildings and infrastructure will be torn down and the land re-used for something else.   Some will just stand there until they fall.    Some will be converted to another use.

No different than it's ever been!!

Lannis
The earth can't be flat.

If it were, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now ....

Offline Huzo

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2018, 07:13:04 PM »
I know you're right Lannis, but I lament the disappearance of old fashioned values, more than the bricks and mortar of yesteryear.
I find myself more comfortable in the presence of people older than me, in general these days, (I'm 60).
I don't see the people who will inherit what's left of this place, as having any "feature" to speak of.
The place is rooted, and I don't mean in tradition...
Had a beaut evening of informative conversation with Paul Brooking a few nights back, and was helped to see what a polluted political environment I'm existing in, I never realised how clueless I am.

I sometimes feel like we are all floating down a river of shit and corruption towards a precipice, topped up by the mega rich elite and as long as we don't attempt to struggle, we won't drown in all likelihood.
But reach out to a hand hold, and you'll be swamped.

Offline Lannis

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2018, 07:21:06 PM »
I know you're right Lannis, but I lament the disappearance of old fashioned values, more than the bricks and mortar of yesteryear.
I find myself more comfortable in the presence of people older than me, in general these days, (I'm 60).
I don't see the people who will inherit what's left of this place, as having any "feature" to speak of.
The place is rooted, and I don't mean in tradition...
Had a beaut evening of informative conversation with Paul Brooking a few nights back, and was helped to see what a polluted political environment I'm existing in, I never realised how clueless I am.

I sometimes feel like we are all floating down a river of shit and corruption towards a precipice, topped up by the mega rich elite and as long as we don't attempt to struggle, we won't drown in all likelihood.
But reach out to a hand hold, and you'll be swamped.

Us old people always think it's all going to end when we're gone.   You especially see it in the old motorcycle world.   

"None of the young people are interested in these old bikes; they only know how to twiddle smartphones, no one knows how to work on mechanical things.   What's to become of our hobby when we're gone?"

I'm sure people have been saying that for 60 years.   In fact, there's a steady stream of young folks picking up the old bikes; I was just at the Ohio Valley BSA Owner's Club rally and there were a bunch of young folks, anywhere from kids oohing and aahing over the old bikes to millenials running up and down the road on their BSAs (or Dad's BSA, which amounts to the same thing).

Same with everything else.   We're not part of a stratified "generation" - we're part of a continuum, and the young folks will provide the continuation.   

Meanwhile, it's up to us to sit on the porch and shake our canes at the kids playing in our yards!

Lannis
The earth can't be flat.

If it were, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now ....

Offline Huzo

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2018, 07:32:31 PM »
Hmmm..
The calming voice of reason if I'm not mistaken.
Hope for my kid's sake you're right, (I'm sure you are...)
But I just can't envisage it.

Offline SED

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2018, 10:47:08 PM »
I'm sure people have been saying that for 60 years.   In fact, there's a steady stream of young folks picking up the old bikes; I was just at the Ohio Valley BSA Owner's Club rally and there were a bunch of young folks, anywhere from kids oohing and aahing over the old bikes to millenials running up and down the road on their BSAs (or Dad's BSA, which amounts to the same thing).

Same with everything else.   We're not part of a stratified "generation" - we're part of a continuum, and the young folks will provide the continuation.   

Meanwhile, it's up to us to sit on the porch and shake our canes at the kids playing in our yards!

Lannis
Part of a continuum - I like that.

Was riding the '39 Ariel today and the first kid I saw was riding a bicycle through his still sleeping neighborhood.  He might have been 7 years old.  He looks up and waves, and I wave back.  I'd like to think that in 20 years he's still doing the same thing. 

Rode about 70 miles today and lots of little boys and girls were looking an waving. Another kid in a car, probably still a teenager, gave a thumbs up as he went by.  At the last stoplight of the day a car load of 3-4 kids (early 20s) drove up next to me and complimented the bike and asked about it.     

For every 10 kids mesmerized by cell phones, there's 3 or 4 that are interested in complex ideas, intricate machines, or pushing themselves physically.  Some of them care about history and technology and environment and have a long view of history.  Remember when society was going to fall apart because of rock and roll?

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Offline Huzo

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2018, 11:26:50 PM »
Nice imagery and fair points.

Online jas67

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2018, 07:04:38 AM »
Meanwhile, it's up to us to sit on the porch and shake our canes at the kids playing in our yards!

If they'd only put down their phones and other devices and go outside and play!
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Online Moto

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2018, 07:32:49 AM »
When we did the tour with the Kid and Nora several years ago, there were some "big money" interests wanting to develop that area.. need more mansions..  :evil:

Maybe all is not lost. There was a deal in 2006, it seems, that would have preserved 30 acres (of 70 or so) around the observatory and its lakeshore, and fund its continued operation more or less as at present, plus a new use as a site for weddings. But that deal succumbed to pressure from the locals when they found out it had been negotiated without them.

These locals are not your typical country folk. It's said that many of them could write a check on their own to save Yerkes. Some sort of new deal is being discussed, it is thought.

Yerkes is not some old factory. It's more like a museum, with plenty of interesting architecture and an extraordinarily beautiful setting. I hope it will be preserved like a museum. It's still in great shape from what I can see.

Moto

« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 07:40:53 AM by Moto »
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Online Chuck in Indiana

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Re: Yerkes last call (NGC)
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2018, 10:37:26 AM »
Maybe all is not lost. There was a deal in 2006, it seems, that would have preserved 30 acres (of 70 or so) around the observatory and its lakeshore, and fund its continued operation more or less as at present, plus a new use as a site for weddings. But that deal succumbed to pressure from the locals when they found out it had been negotiated without them.

These locals are not your typical country folk. It's said that many of them could write a check on their own to save Yerkes. Some sort of new deal is being discussed, it is thought.

Yerkes is not some old factory. It's more like a museum, with plenty of interesting architecture and an extraordinarily beautiful setting. I hope it will be preserved like a museum. It's still in great shape from what I can see.

Moto
Yep. There is some serious money that goes there to play.
And yes again, it *should* be a museum.
Chuck in (Elwood) Indiana/sometimes SoCal

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