Fuertes Observatory Open House Nights

Special Open Houses During the Winter Break: Weather permitting, the Observatory will be open Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 4-5, from 5-10pm. Please call the observatory to get updates on any adjustments to the schedule due to the weather. Our regular weekly Friday Open House Nights will resume on January 25, 2019. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 

The Fuertes Observatory is open every Friday night during the Cornell academic year from 8pm until midnight (regardless of weather) and occasionally at other times.  Lectures are given on select Friday nights during the academic year in the Fuertes classroom prior to observing. When clear, public viewing through the observatory's telescopes takes place between 8pm and midnight. Tours of the historic building, the Irving Porter Church Refractor, and our museum will be given throughout the night, regardless of the weather. If cloudy, we may close early. Check our Twitter feed below for updates!


Call (607)-255-3557 for a prerecorded message regarding the open status of Fuertes.  

You can also visit our Hours & Directions page for hours, directions, parking information. 


Visiting the Fuertes Observatory

When you attend an open house night at the Fuertes Observatory, please be respectful of the volunteers and other observers by refraining from the use of flash photography, cell phones, and other sources of white light while observing is taking place. In order to see faint detail in galaxies and nebulae, the eyes must be fully dark adapted, which takes several minutes. Any source of white light will interfere with this adjustment and will disturb other observers. 


Dress appropriately for the season! The dome room and deck of the observatory are both unheated, and the temperature often falls rapidly after sunset.


Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

Smoking of any kind (including e-cigarettes) is strictly prohibited in or around the observatory and on the observing deck. Pets are not allowed in the building. 


In the Telescopes (Fall 2018):

The Moon

The Moon is an amazing sight to see through any telescope, but is best seen while in crescent phase since the shadows cast by the craters and mountain ranges are stunning. Even when it is a gibbous or full, the Moon is awe inspiring with hundreds of craters and the famous maria (seas) easily visible. To observe fainter objects like galaxies and nebulae, come on a night close to the New Moon; our closest neighbor in space is also a great source of light pollution. Check the current Moon phase at the top of the page! Photo taken at Fuertes Observatory through the Irving Porter Church Telescope.


Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, is high in the night sky for most of autumn and early winter this year, while the naked eye planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) don't return to the evening sky until spring. Visible as a small, blue-green dot in all but the largest telescopes, Uranus is still a fascinating object to observe. It is currently located in the constellation Pisces and is almost 3 billion kilometers away from the Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL

The Andromeda Galaxy (M 31)

Located roughly 2.5 million light years away, Andromeda is the Milky Way's closest major galactic neighbor, and has a mass roughly 1.5 trillion times that of the sun. The galaxy is visible to the naked eye as a "fuzzy star" in the constellation Andromeda; it is one of the furthest objects that can be seen without optical aid. It is quite impressive in binoculars and wide-field telescopes.

The Owl Cluster (NGC 457)

Open star clusters abound in the autumn night sky, and the Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia among the finest. It is full of blue stars that appear to make up a body with arms (or wings), and two bright stars visible above the body appear to be eyes staring back at you through space. Many people imagine this to be an owl; others see it as E.T. 

The Double Cluster (Caldwell 14)

The Double Cluster is an amazing sight to see through any telescope, it is made up of two open clusters that lie close together in the night sky.; each cluster contains around as many as 5000 stars. The cluster is fairly young by astronomical standards and is only 12 million years old and like 7500 light years away.  Through a telescope one can distinctly see the two fuzzy areas that make up the cluster.

The Pleaides (M45)

The Pleiades, also known as, Messier 45, the Seven Sisters, and Subaru, are a gorgeous open cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus. Approximately seven of the brighter stars in the cluster can be seen with the naked eye, but through binoculars or a small telescope, many dozens of bright, blue stars can be seen. Only in long exposure photographs can the wispy nebulosity seen in many images be viewed. The Pleiades will be visible in the eastern sky throughout the fall and winter. Photo taken at Fuertes Observatory through Orion 8" Astrograph. 

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