Open House Nights at Fuertes Observatory

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Next regular public observing (if clear): Friday, Sep 29, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Call the Fuertes Hotline to confirm open status: (607) 255-3557.


Clear Sky Clock for Ithaca, New York

The Fuertes Observatory is open for public viewing every Friday evening when school is in session and occasionally at other times. During the academic year, meetings of the Cornell Astronomical Society also take place before the open house nights.

The Sky Tonight (June 2015)

The Moon is full on the 2nd and interferes with observation of fainter objects in the early days of the month.

The summer constellations rise into view over the month and become well placed for open house viewing. Messier 13, the great globular cluster in Hercules, is well placed at Sunset. Somewhat later, the constellation Lyra with its bright star Vega and the nearby Ring Nebula become visible. Other summer targets along the Milky Way are the Dumbbell nebula? and the double star Albireo?.

Jupiter and Venus? approach one another ever closer in the western sky at sunset, moving towards a spectacular conjunction on June 30. They are joined by the crescent moon on June 19th. Saturn is well placed throughout the evening for observing in the southern sky. The other planets are not well placed for evening viewing during June.

High overhead in the North, the twin galaxies M81 and M82? can be found near the bowl of the Big Dipper.

The Milky Way lies near the horizon, where it is invisible, at sunset. As the summer constellations rise with it it begins to come into view in the later hours of open house nights if sky conditions are excellent.

The planets, Moon, and a number of brighter "deep sky" objects are popular targets with the Irving Porter Church telescope and smaller instruments.

Visiting Fuertes Observatory

When you attend an open house, please respect other observers and your hosts by refraining from the use of flash photography, white flashlights, open cellphone displays, and other sources of bright light in the telescope dome and on the observing deck when observing is in progress. It is necessary to spend several minutes in a darkened environment before the eyes adapt to seeing faint celestial objects, and bright displays interfere with that adjustment.

Please dress warmly appropriate to the season: the telescope dome and deck are unheated. Even in the spring and fall months, temperatures may cool rapidly after dark.

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

Common Telescope Targets

Most objects that can be seen with the Fuertes telescope are related to active research by Cornell's Department of Astronomy and Center for Radiophysics and Space Research. A selection follows. Browse to each link to learn more about each object -- and how Cornell astronomers are working to better understand it.

Messier 13 in Hercules
Messier 13 is the brightest example in the northern skies of a Globular Cluster, an assembly of hundreds of thousands of stars. Hundreds of these clusters surround all spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way. Most of these clusters were born in the very early formation of their parent galaxies, making their stars among the oldest in the Universe.
The Planet Neptune
Neptune is the outermost gas giant planet in the Solar System, weighing about 17 times the mass of the Earth. Through a telescope, it appears as a very small and blue disc. Cornell's Phil Nicholson has discovered several new moons of Neptune.
The Ring Nebula
The Ring Nebula is a gently expanding shell of gas ejected several tens of thousands of years ago by a dying star which in life was much like the Sun. Do not fear, the Sun has five billion years to go before its nuclear fuels are exhausted and it undergoes this process.
The Planet Saturn
Saturn is the second largest planet in our Solar System, and also the most distant planet from the Sun which was known in antiquity.

Saturn's most obvious feature through a telescope are its brilliant rings.

Cornell astronomers are involved in the Cassini spacecraft mission to saturn, which has mapped the rings, moons, and atmospheric storms of the planet in exquisite beauty.