The Fuertes Observatory

Photo by M.T.Roman, 2014

Visit public viewing nights on clear Fridays starting at 8pm.

The Fuertes observatory was completed in the fall of 1917 and its main instrument, the Irving Porter Church Telescope followed by 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 for use by astronomy lab classes and on public open house evenings. It is the second observatory of that name to have existed at Cornell: the first was a crude ramshackle affair built by Fuertes himself which stood from 1896 until around 1903 near the current Day Hall. See the List of Cornell Observatories for more details.

An accounting of the full history of the Fuertes Observatory has been written by professor Phil Nicholson in his article A Brief history of the Fuertes Observatory at Cornell.

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 our many dedicated volunteers.

Fuertes is located on a hill on the North Campus of Cornell University, near Helen Newman. (Fuertes is listed on the campus map). Below, the red marker is Fuertes; the green marker is the Space Sciences building.


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