The Franklin Institute Logo
Case Files logo

George Ellery Hale: Solar Physics and Related Inventions, 1927

Yerkes

In 1892, Hale was appointed Associate Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, as well as Director of the Kenwood Observatory that his father then donated to the university. Hale happened upon the availability of the newest 40-inch telescope discs and began a five-year acquisition campaign. It resulted in the Yerkes Observatory, located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, far from ambient light interference, and financed by Charles Yerkes, an industrialist of questionable reputation but available riches. When the Yerkes Observatory opened—conceived by Hale, designed by Hale, and staffed by Hale—George Hale was 29 years old.

In addition to fundraising, Hale was busy during those five years. He had studied in Germany but left his doctorate program incomplete, founded the Astrophysical Journal to promote scientific cooperation, and had become an entrepreneur of astronomy. He had an important part in the 1899 establishment of the American Astronomical Society.