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Photo Credit: M.T. Roman, 2014

The Fuertes Observatory

The Fuertes Observatory on Cornell University's North Campus is operated by The Cornell Department of Astronomy, and public viewing nights are hosted by the Cornell Astronomical Society (CAS) every Friday evening from 8pm to midnight. 

Fuertes is Cornell University's fifth observatory, and its predecessors existed on Central Campus in the later part of the 19th century and first decade of the 20th century. However, due to the development of the campus and the need to build a drill hall (Barton Hall), the predecessors to Fuertes were demolished, and plans were made to build a new observatory on the undeveloped North Campus. In 1916, construction of the Fuertes Observatory began under the supervision of the Cornell Department of Civil Engineering.

Fuertes was completed in the fall of 1917 and its main instrument, the Irving Porter Church Telescope, followed in October 1922 with dedication the following year. The building honors Estevan A. Fuertes (1838-1903), a professor of Civil Engineering, and later Dean of the engineering school. The telescope honors Irving Porter Church (1851-1931), professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering.


The Irving Porter Church Telescope is a historic 12" refractor, still driven by the original mechanical clockwork mechanism. Fuertes Observatory also holds a number of smaller telescopes owned by the CAS for use on public open house nights.

Fuertes is no longer used for professional research; observational classes and research are conducted instead at the Hartung-Boothroyd Observatory. However, Fuertes does inspire continuing generations of students through introductory astronomy lab sessions throughout the year, and public viewing nights on clear Fridays.


Over the course of the year, including summers, visitors may call (607) 255-3557 to find out if Fuertes will be open for public viewing on Friday nights. Public viewing nights are made possible by student members of the Cornell Astronomical Society.


Fuertes is located on a hill on the North Campus of Cornell University, near Helen Newman Hall, and parking is available in the Appel Commons parking lot across the street from the observatory. Visit the Hours & Directions page for more information.

If you are interested in receiving a weekly email about events at Fuertes, lecture series, and special non-Friday observing sessions, please fill out the form below. 

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Background Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

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