About The Cornell Astronomical Society




About the Cornell Astronomical Society

Founded in 1972, the Cornell Astronomical Society (CAS) is a Cornell University undergraduate student organization, and has run public observing nights at the Fuertes Observatory for nearly 50 years. The club is open to Cornell undergraduate and graduate students, but faculty and staff members also occasionally volunteer at Fuertes Open House Nights and other Astronomy Department outreach events. Club members are given opportunities to learn how to use the historic 12" Irving Porter Church Refractor (finished in 1922) as well as many other telescopes at Fuertes.  


During the Cornell academic year, CAS generally holds meetings every Friday night at 7:30 PM at the Fuertes Observatory. Sometimes a lecture will be given instead of a meeting. Prior to our meeting, we have club dinners at Appel Commons (in the fall) or RPCC (in the spring) starting at 6:30pm. CAS members then run the Open House Nights at Fuertes from 8pm to midnight. We operate the telescopes, give tours of the building and instruments, and explain to visitors what they are seeing in the night sky. 

The CAS often holds training sessions at Fuertes on Saturday evenings (usually starting around 8 or 9pm) for members to learn how to use the telescopes, learn about the night sky, and become familiar with the history of the observatory and its telescopes.


If you are interested in becoming a member of the club, feel free to contact the CAS officers (see below), or come to one of our meetings. No prior experience or intent to major in astronomy (or any STEM field) is required. You can subscribe to our email list to get weekly notifications about CAS events (see below). We are also on Facebook and Twitter.

The Faculty advisor for the club is Professor Phil Nicholson


The CAS is funded by the Cornell Student Activities Funding Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do CAS members do?

In short, we are responsible for opening the Fuertes Observatory to the public every Friday night, operating the telescopes, and sharing the wonders of the universe with over 4000 visitors per year. Club members also often use the telescopes at Fuertes for their own personal use (observing and astrophotography) on non-Friday nights.

Do I need to have experience with telescopes, be familiar with the night sky, or be an astronomy major to join CAS?

No prior experience or intent to major in astronomy is required. In fact, very few (if any) astronomy majors are part of the club at any given time. We will teach you how to use the telescopes and find stars, planets, deep sky objects, & constellations. 

Is there an application or interview process?

Nope. Anyone can join CAS at any time, provided you are a Cornell student (undergraduate or graduate). Just come to our meetings on Friday nights and training sessions on Saturday nights. Feel free to contact the CAS officers if you have any questions about joining.


Do I have to learn to use the telescopes to be part of the club?

While we do encourage all of our members to learn how to use the Irving Porter Church Refractor and the other telescopes during our training nights (on Saturday evenings), it is certainly not a requirement. Many members prefer to give tours of the telescopes, museum, slide wall, and/or night sky (with a laser pointer) instead of operating the telescopes.


What equipment does the CAS have access to?

CAS has access to:

  • The historic 12" Irving Porter Church Refractor (the observatory's main telescope)

  • An Obsession 15" Dobsonian

  • A Celestron 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain permanently mounted on the observing deck

  • An Orion 10" Dobsonian 

  • An Orion 8" Newtonian astrograph (for astrophotography or visual observing)

  • An Orion Atlas Pro computerized telescope mount

  • A 5" computerized Meade refractor

  • Several pairs of astronomy binoculars 

  • A large selection of high quality telescope eyepieces, solar filters (white light and H-alpha), and several astrophotography cameras for club use. 

12" Irving Porter Church Refractor

12" Irving Porter Church Refractor

Obsession 15" Dobsonian

Obsession 15" Dobsonian

Obsession next to Irv

Obsession next to Irv

Celestron C14 Mounted on the Deck

Celestron C14 Mounted on the Deck

Orion 10" Dobsonian

Orion 10" Dobsonian

Orion 8" Astrograph on Atlas Pro

Orion 8" Astrograph on Atlas Pro

2020-2021 Officers:

President - Polina Ermoshkina (pae49)

Vice President/Historian -  Shawn Hikosaka (sh932)

Treasurer - Chase Funkhouser (cf373

Outreach Coordinator - Jonathan Gomez (jdg276)

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Cornell Astronomical Society Officer History

This list is incomplete and may contain errors. If you have corrections or would like to add your name to the list, please contact astrosociety@cornell.edu. 

Cornell Astronomical Society Club Photos

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Background Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

Call us: (607)-255-3557

Email us: astrosociety@cornell.edu

Find us: 

209 Cradit Farm Dr.

Ithaca, NY 14853


Fri:  8pm - 12am


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