The Knockinton Observatory retained a charming, old-world aura…the original stonework, intricately carved doors, an impressive wooden dome, and ivy that graced the building’s exterior. Newer observatories reflect a sterile, science-based atmosphere embellished with chrome and glass to keep visitors feeling thoroughly entrenched in the modern world. The Knockinton, in contrast, clung tenaciously to its origins, giving students and guests alike a rich sense of historical respect for the development of astronomy over time.
-- Excerpt from The Stars Prevail
The 1897 Yerkes Observatory located in southern Wisconsin served as my inspiration for this passage. I toured the Yerkes several times while writing this book, falling deeper in love with it during each visit. The exterior architecture is a tour in and of itself, but the interior of the observatory with its ninety-foot diameter dome and movable wood floor takes my breath away every time. While there, I once picked up a postcard featuring a 1921 photo of the Yerkes’ refracting telescope fronted by a group of key personnel and--could it be?—theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. The site was also frequented by Edwin Hubble and Carl Sagan. (If you’re an amateur astronomer, your jaw is dropping right about now.) For an old-school tour of the Yerkes Observatory without having to head to Williams Bay yourself, consider viewing the dated yet delightful presentation below.
The original BBC1 series The Sky At Night (narrated by astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore for over 50 years) featured the Yerkes Observatory in the mid-80s, but hey—our universe is timeless.
This blog is where I post my inspirations for each book in the Barrington Bay series as well as behind-the-scenes tips, pics, and other tidbits. Feel free to click 'Read More' for in-depth posts.