History of the Winer Observatory

The Iowa Robotic Observatory (IRO) telescope (1997) The Irvin Marvin Winer Memorial Mobile Observatory, Inc. was incorporated in 1983 in the state of Maryland when its founders, Mark and Pat Trueblood, were living in the Washington, D.C. area. Mark's friend, Andrew J. Tomer suggested naming the observatory after a very special professor both had known when Mark was in graduate school in the Department of Physics at Wesleyan University. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service awarded Winer Observatory its preliminary ruling as a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity in May 1984 and its final ruling in July 1989.

After Mark spent 18 years in the Washington, D.C. area working primarily in the aerospace industry, Mark and Pat moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1990 and began looking for a site for their home and observatory. They spent over six months looking at various real estate options before purchasing the land in Sonoita where the Winer Sonoita Field Station is located. In 1992, they moved into the new home they built, and within a couple years, they began work on the observatory building, performing construction tasks as funds became available.

Originally, the shop area of the building was to be about 25 feet wide by 50 feet long, and the observatory was to be about 25 feet wide by only 25 feet long. In early 1997, the University of Iowa inquired if it would be possible to place their Iowa Robotic Observatory telescope at our site. We were aware of the Fairborn Observatory and the concept of the "telescope farm", and decided to see if there was a market beyond the Iowa telescope. We extended the length of our observatory design by another 10 feet to 35 feet, submitted the final plans for approval by the County, and began construction in earnest. After the shop building was built and just as construction on the observatory section was about to begin, we decided to extend the length of the observatory as much as possible to 50 feet, so the roof would just barely fit on the shop (we later cleared everything with the County, and the inspector signed off on the building permit and let us occupy the building). The very evening we completed installing the roof drive system, the truck arrived from the University of Iowa with their telescope in October, 1997.

On January 1, 2023, the MACRO Consortium took over the operation of the University of Iowa 20" PlaneWave telescope. The MACRO Consortium consists of Macalester College, Augustana College, and Coe College, with Knox College purchasing time from the Consortium.

The Ohio State University 4k x 4k camera and 200 mm lens known as the KELT telescope was used for a sky survey for exoplanets. The 200 mm lens was replaced with an 80 mm f/1.9 lens. This latter combination discovered over 30 exoplanets with publications in leading journals including the Astrophysical Journal, the Astronomical Journal, and the prestigious Nature journal (June 22, 2017) where it also made the cover.

The Ohio State University 20" Meade telescope known as DEMONEX was replaced by a PlaneWave 20" telescope named DEMONEXT in May, 2016.

Funds for placing the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center lunar coronagraph at our site were provided by NASA Purchase Order NNG12PD38P. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these web pages are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

A summary of our customer history appears below.

Table 1: Customer History
Customer Aperture (Inches) Mount Instrument Pad Installed Removed
Univ. of Iowa 20" R-C (made at U. Iowa) Alt-az Apogee SITe 1kx1kx24um 1 10/1997 9/2003
Winer Observatory Former U. Iowa 20" Alt-az Apogee SITe 1kx1kx24um 1 9/2003 1/2007
Tenagra Observatories 14" Celestron SCT GS-1100 Paramount Apogee SITe 512x512x24um 4 10/1998 7/1999
Spectashift.com 16" Meade SCT Equatorial Fiber-fed spectrograph 4 2/2000 3/2000
Washington Univ. in St. Louis 20" Torus R-C #1 Equatorial FLI SITe 1kx1kx24um 4 11/2000 4/2010
Washington Univ. in St. Louis 20" Torus R-C #2 Equatorial Apogee SITe 1kx1kx24um 2 11/2000 3/2003
ISS-AT / Astronomical League 14" Celestron SCT Astrophysics equatorial SBIG CCD imager 3 2/2002 9/2003
Univ. of Iowa 14.5" Torus R-C Equatorial FLI SITe 1kx1kx24um 5 5/2002 5/2007
Spectashift.com 16" Meade SCT Equatorial Fiber-fed spectrograph 6 4/2004 5/2004
Ohio State Univ. KELT Survwy 200 mm FL f/2.8 Paramount ME Apogee Kodak 4kx4kx9um 3 10/2004 9/2022
Univ. of Iowa 14.5" Torus R-C Equatorial FLI Kodak 3kx3kx12um 1 9/2007 5/2015
Ohio State Univ. Meade 20" SCT Meade Max Mount FLI Fairchild 2k x 2k 5 4/2008 8/2023
Adam Mickiewicz University PlaneWave CDK700 PlaneWave Fiber-fed spectrograph 2 10/2013 N/A
NASA/GSFC Lunar Coronagraph Paramount ME SBIG 6 1/2013 12/2020
Univ. of Iowa 20" PlaneWave Equatorial SBIG Aluma AC4040 1 5/2015 N/A
TranAstra Corp. Four 10" Newtonians Paramount ME II ZWO ASI 2600MM 4 4/2022 N/A

Template page last updated on: September 4, 2023