About us

# About the MACRO Consortium


In the spirit of discovery and with mutual interest in cooperation, friendship, and education, Macalester College, Augustana College, and Coe College have established a consortium whose guiding principle is to provide operational access to a world class robotic telescope that is used primarily by students at small liberal arts colleges for education and research.


Beginning in the mid-1990s, students at the University of Iowa under the guidance of Professor Robert Mutel have built, maintained, and operated a remotely controlled robotic telescope at Winer Observatory in Southern Arizona. The system underwent numerous upgrades and overhauls through the years, from the telescope hardware itself to the software for scheduling, calibrating, and distributing images, and played a pivotal role in the undergraduate curriculum of the Department of Physics & Astronomy as well as the research of graduate students and faculty.

Professor Mutel's transition to emeritus status in the department created a gap in expertise with this fantastic facility, and plans began to retire and remove the equipment from Winer Observatory. James Wetzel, Ph.D, became aware of this through his active research connections with faculty in the department, and enlisted the help of Dr.s John Cannon and William Peterson - fellow alumni of the program and former students of Dr. Mutel - to find a way to continue to make this valuable educational and research tool available.

Dr. Cannon, Dr. Peterson, and Dr. Wetzel decided to combine the talents and resources of their respective institutions, Macalester College, Augustana College, and Coe College, to form a consortium that would take over stewardship of the University of Iowa's telescope and continue to make it available as an accessible educational and research tool to students at all four institutions and the world. The began drafting legal documents and negotiating between all parties, and in Fall of 2022 MACRO was born. One of the first actions of MACRO was to rechristen the University of Iowa's telescope as the Robert L. Mutel Telescope (RLMT) in honor of the vision and efforts of their mentor.

It's been an honor to establish and operate this telescope for the past almost 3 decades. I'm very glad to see it continue while also expanding access to more young minds - Robert Mutel