My Time at Yerkes

Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections. - Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021


On the South Lawn of the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI stands a small building known by observatory staff as the Molleigh Dome. The 10-foot tall structure houses a computer-guided 12” Meade LX200 reflecting telescope. Entering the Molleigh Dome can be perilous; the hobbit-sized entrance leads into a cramped circular room, a full 10 degrees warmer than outside. A dim red LED strip illuminates cluttered shelves and tables holding old computer parts, telescope eyepieces, screwdrivers, lens caps, rolls of tape, penciled notes, flashlights, batteries, calculators, astronomical charts, reference books, etc. — the general miscellany found in the most enticing of places. To open the dome one has to unhook a length of rope strung through 2 tennis balls and use the old improvised pulley to, with a not inconsiderable amount of effort, pull open the dome’s slit, aided by a broomstick placed specially in the dome to help with the process. At this point, the user has probably hit his head on low-hanging appliances 5 or 6 times and is almost definitely breaking a significant sweat.

The dome is rotated manually with a little handle that looks like it came off of a child’s dresser, fixed with a few screws. If the telescope is...

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