Fuertes Observatory is an astronomical observatory located on the North Campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The observatory was completed in fall of 1917 and was originally used by the Civil Engineering Department as an instructional field office for navigation and surveying. Today, the observatory is primarily used for public outreach, welcoming over two thousand visitors per year with open houses on clear Friday nights.
The facility is currently maintained by the Cornell Department of Astronomy, though open houses are routinely managed by Cornell Astronomical Society, a group of Cornell undergraduates, graduate students, and Ithaca citizens. The observatory is named after Estevan Fuertes.
The observatory contains a 12-inch refracting telescope with a weight driven mechanical clock drive. The original glass blanks that were to become the optics were procured in 1919 by Prof. Irving P. Church, head of the Cornell Department of Civil Engineering; the two-element lens was ground and polished by the well-known firm of Brashear & Co. and delivered to Cornell in 1920. In January 1922, a contract was given to the Warner and Swasey Co. of Cleveland, Ohio to build the mount. In October, 1922, the telescope was erected upon its German equatorial mount in the central dome of the Fuertes Observatory, and officially dedicated in a ceremony on June 15, 1923 as the Irving Porter Church Memorial Telescope.
Fuertes is open to Cornell students and the general public every Friday night. When clear, observing will take place from dark until midnight. Tours of the observatory and its historic telescopes will be given regardless of the weather. During the academic year, a lecture or astronomy related documentary is often presented before observing.