Home      About the Observatory       


The Fairborn Observatory on Mt. Hopkins

The Orion Observatory is the direct descendant of the Fairborn Observatory--the planet’s first totally automatic, robotic observatory–which Russ Genet founded in 1979. Together with Louis Boyd, Donald Hayes, Kenneth Kissell and others, Russ pioneered the development and use of automatic telescopes (shown below) and robotic observatories.

Louis Boyd, in Phoenix, Arizona, developed the first
reliable and fully automatic photoelectric telescope.

I visited Lou Boyd often during the development of his system, the "Phoenix-10."  Russ Genet and Lou Boyd after the first full night of automatic operation, October 12, 1983.

In 1985 the Fairborn Observatory moved from its birth place near Fairborn, OH to Mt. Hopkins, AZ, where the dark night skies are a boon to the many observatories located there.  The Fairborn Observatory has, for a quarter-century, made highly precise observations of variable stars for astronomers from around the world.

Mount Hopkins, Arizona, second home to the
Fairborn Observatory. The MMT is visible to the right.

Equipment and dorm rooms on the left, huge
roll-off roof on the right.  Sometimes it iced open.


Russ Genet and Lou Boyd shake hands after installing the first automatic telescope on Mt. Hopkins in 1986.  The Fairborn-10 telescope was transferred from Fairborn, Ohio.

 Russell Genet, Jr., and the Fairborn-10 on
Mt. Hopkins.  MMT in the background.

The first three automatic telescope on Mt. Hopkins. 
From left to right (and in order of installation),
the Fairborn-10, the Phoenix-10 and the Vauderbilt-16.

Lou Boyd and the telescope control systems for
the original three telescopes.

Upgrades at Mt. Hopkins

A model of automated 0.8-meter telescope built by Russ Genet
and Ken Kissell at a summer workshop on Mount Hopkins. 

The first 0.8-meter automatic telescope,
soon joined by three more.

Retting Machine Shop in Redlands, California,
built the 0.8-meter telescope mounts.  Optics by Star Instruments.

Automatic Control Systems
for the 0.8 meter telescopes.

As an integral feature of its program to develop robotic telescopes and observatories, the Fairborn Observatory organized a dozen conferences on the use of microcomputers in astronomy, automated photometry, and robotic observatories. Many of these conferences were held at the Lazy K Bar Guest Ranch in the Tucson Mountains of Arizona, and the Lazy K became an annual event that was attended by robotic astronomy developers from around the world.

Russ eventually turned the Fairborn Observatory over to Boyd as retirement and the beaches of the South Pacific called to him and he turned to his studies of cosmic evolution.  

Home          Back to Top