Facilities. The Iowa Robotic Observatory (IRO) is maintained by the students and faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The construction and operation of this facility has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, the Carver Trust, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa. The IRO consists of a 51cm f/6.8 Cassegrain reflector equipped with 12-position filter wheel with a full range of photometric and narrowband filters. In addition, the telescope is equipped with two spectrometers: A low-resolution (R = 300) grism spectrometer and a medium resolution (R = 7,000) echelle spectrometer. It is located at the Winer Observatory near Sonoita, Arizona.
The IRO facility is completely robotic and is scheduled in advance at a central control facility at the University of Iowa. The IRO telescope is for teaching in undergraduate laboratories at the University of Iowa and for research by undergraduate and graduate students in the Department.
Education. Since education is a primary goal of the IRO, we have developed an online astronomy laboratory curriculum designed for use with the facility. The offers laboratory exercises and research projects in an 'active learning' format in which students work in teams of three to solve research problems using inquiry-based methods.. The projects are designed for use with commercially available Windows-based software for sky display (Starry Night) and image analysis (Maxim/DL). The current version of the manual is available online.
Student Research. The IRO is operated primarily by undergraduates, many of whom are involved in independent research projects. Students in the major-level introductory courses, and the uppoer-level astronomical laboratory course pursue many research projects, including determining the rotational periods of previously undetermined asteroids, timing observations of eclipsing binary stars, photometry of newly discovered supernovae, and most recently, low-resolution spectroscopy of emission-line stars using the grism spectrometer.
Image Database. We invite you to visit our Sample Images page. Here we keep some sample images from IRO. In addition, there is an Archival Image page with archive images of the Messier objects.
Internet Observing. We formerly allocated a limited amount [typically 10% - 20%] of total observing time at both telescopes for use by external educators, scientists, and anyone else with an interest in astronomy. The IRO is also a member of the Sierra Star Observatory Network. We currently do not support individual external users, but plan to re-establish this program as resources become available.