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George C. Roberts (1936-2010)

Roberts, a chemist and amateur astronomer, passed away due to cancer on Saturday, May 29, 2010. He was 74.

Published onFeb 07, 2023
George C. Roberts (1936-2010)

George C. Roberts at an early International Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry (IAPPP) workshop in the 1980s. Courtesy: R. Genet

George C. Roberts, a chemist, was born on May 27, 1936. George and his wife, a Peruvian of Incan descent, had twin boys, Tupac and Capac.

Early in his career, Roberts developed and held key patents for the chemicals used in toilet holding tanks. When Amtrak prohibited railroads from direct disposal of waste on trackways, Roberts’ patents resulted in significant wealth, which he shared with others who had similar interests. Some of those many interests included the preservation of Incan artifacts and astronomy.

In 1975, Roberts founded Inca-One Corporation, Inc. in Gardena, California. The company manufactures motorized lifts and automatic mounting systems to hide/reveal flat-screen TVs from cabinets, ceilings, walls, and the floor of hotel suites and entertainment rooms. It is now run by his son Tupac.

Roberts had a long-term interest in the technology of small research-grade robotic telescopes. Perhaps surprisingly, much of the technology related to TV lifts familiar to Roberts was directly applicable to robotic telescopes.

Roberts was a member of and generously contributed to a number of astronomical organizations, including the AAS and the ASP. He joined AAS members Kenneth Kissell and Russell Genet on an observing run to use a small 16-inch telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in 1981 ("Our Turn at Kitt Peak,” Sky & Telescope 63, 240, 1982). He and his sons accompanied Genet to a meeting of the ASP in the early 1980s to present their research results, as well. Roberts also contributed material to a chapter on “One-Meter Portable Alt-Az Telescopes,” to a book “The Alt-Az Initiative: Telescope, Mirror and Instrument Developments,” edited by R. Genet, J., Johnson, and V. Wallen. He also was active in addressing light pollution (Roberts, G., 2006 Physics Today 59, 24).

Russ Genet (left) and George Roberts (right) during an observing run at
Kitt Peak National Observatory, c. 1981. Photo courtesy: R. Genet

Additional material contributed by Terry D. Oswalt

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