At the 2008 Astronomical League conference Scott Roberts announced his return to the telescope manufacturing industry as Founder of Explore Scientific, LLC. The company dedicated their sponsorship of the League's National Young Astronomer Award and the Leslie C. Peltier Award to John Diebel and Meade Instruments for their many years of support of the Astronomical League's outreach and recognition programs.
Meade Instruments Corporation
Beginning in 1986, Roberts worked with Meade Instruments, working in various capacities with the telescope maker, starting out as a Tech Support Representative and a Sales Manager. From 1992-98 Roberts worked for Meade in Asia setting quality standards for small telescopes and accessories manufactured in Taiwan.
Over the years, Scott held official positions as Senior Technical Sales Manager, Director of Technical Sales, Vice president and National Sales Manager for the U.S.A. and Canada, and Vice President - Brand Community and Consumer Solutions. Throughout his long career at Meade, Scott supported the company in many areas including sales, off-shore supply chain quality management, e-commerce, web design, training, testing, Internet marketing, brand community marketing, trade show & community event management, and product design. Over the two decades he instructed the proper use of astronomical telescopes for people around the world. Here are some highlights:
- From 1992 - 1998 worked in Taiwan overseeing operations of Meade's small telescope line.
- In 1996 coded and established Meade.com one of the first websites in the telescope manufacturing industry, which he maintained until 2007.
- In 2005 established the Meade 4M Community, the first telescope industry online community.
Roberts ended his career with Meade as Vice President - Global Client Support and Community Relations in 2008.
Oceanside Photo & Telescope
From 1975 to 1986, Roberts worked in various capacities in what was originally known as Oceanside Photographic Center, including working in camera repair, custom darkroom work, sales, management, training, and marketing.
In the early 1980's Scott became Manager of the company and introduced serious amateur-level telescopes into its product offering. Within a year he started conducting event marketing programs to popularize amateur astronomy. This led to the name change of the company to Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT), and establishing the Oceanside Photo & Telescope Astronomical Society (OPTAS), which became one of the largest amateur astronomy clubs in Southern California.
Together with Craig Weatherwax (owner), and Mike West, they positioned OPT to become one of the leading retailers of high-end amateur astronomical equipment in the world.
Roberts was inspired by John Diebel, the founder of Meade Instruments, and his commitment to support the astronomical community's organizations, events, and individuals who were committed to public outreach in astronomy. In 2005 with the endorsement of Meade CEO Steven G. Murdock, and Senior VP of Marketing Rich Jorgensen, he formed and launched the Meade 4M Community, an alliance of astronomy and space exploration organizations and enthusiasts, with members spanning the globe, with Scott serving as its Executive Director.
In 2007 Roberts contributed to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's project "Science Educators Under the Stars" which resulted in a publication (ISBN 978-1-58381-315-7) edited by Michael G. Gibbs, Marni Berendsen, and Martin Storksdieck. One of the first publications devoted to education and public outreach in astronomy by amateurs, the book illuminates the need for awareness of astronomy and science in general. Other contributors included outreach activists Terry Mann, David H. Levy, Tim Slater, Daniel Zevin, Judy Koke, Dr. Mike D. Reynolds, as well as the editors themselves.
In 2007, Roberts orchestrated the largest single donation of telescopes for public educational outreach in history, with large containers full of refractors and reflectors. Coordinated with Meade Instruments and Dr. Mike Reynolds, the telescopes were refurbished stock from Meade that was considered unsellable and scheduled to be disposed of. Dr. Reynolds created a program to distribute and educate the recipients of each telescope that was donated. In the process, several thousand refurbished telescopes were saved and successfully re-purposed for educational outreach in astronomy.
Currently, Roberts is involved in several projects dedicated to educational outreach, including:
The formation and organization of the Alliance of Historic Observatories, whose members currently include: Palomar Observatory, Mt. Wilson Observatory, Yerkes Observatory, Lowell Observatory, Lick Observatory, the Vatican Observatory, and Griffith Observatory with more to come. The purpose of the organization is to preserve, nourish, and promote these iconic and inspirational facilities through collaboration to foster greater scientific literacy in the world.
The Global Star Party with over a hundred live streamed episodes to promote astronomy around the world.
"Eclipse of the Century" was the winner of the 1992 American Association for the Advancement of Science Science Journalism Award.
Roberts is an enthusiastic astronomer, astrophotographer, and solar eclipse expedition support member. His first experience with a total eclipse of the sun was as a member of the solar film crew with WGBH Boston's production of the NOVA (TV series; 19th season; episode 9) "Eclipse of the Century" that aired nationally on public television on March 24, 1992.
Being nervous about his complete lack of experience in photographing eclipses of the sun, he spent four days and three nights without sleep on the east-facing side of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on the summit of Mauna Kea, making fine adjustments to the Meade German Equatorial Mounts as he was "drift" aligning them for precise polar alignment. Scott had not anticipated the effects of mount flexure with heavy 35mm motion picture cameras, while he was polar aligning the three mounts with a telescope that weighed far less. Thus he had to adjust for the difference in weight "by feel" in the three mounts which took considerable time, with the last mount reaching precise polar alignment after the camera was mounted as the sky was brightening on the morning of the eclipse. On July 11th, 1991, Roberts ran three equatorial mounts with 35mm motion picture cameras mounted on them, simultaneously allowing the cameras to capture the "Diamond Ring" effect of the total eclipse of the sun from the 14,000' summit of the Mauna Kea Observatory complex in Hawaii. The footage produced by the solar team directed by Boyd Estus (Academy Award-winning Director/Director of Photography noted for elegant work in 35mm, Super-16mm and 16mm film, and in video) revealed some of the highest resolution motion picture images ever made of a total solar eclipse. All of the full disk images of the eclipse were captured by the cameras that Roberts tracked. Scott received a credit as a Mount Operator in the documentary.
On July 4, 2005, the BBC's The Sky at Night astronomy program presented by Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott chronicled the impact of Comet 9p/Tempel by the Deep Impact (space mission) from Palomar Observatory. The program "Fallout from Deep Impact" documented the professional and amateur astronomers' observations from Palomar, which included Roberts' interpretations as the small team of amateur astronomers visually and photographically observed the moment of the space probe's explosion on the comet's surface.
In 2014, Roberts was one of the producers of the AstronomyOutreach network documentary, The Sun Watchers, filmed inside the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) narrated Dr. Stephen J. Edberg.
During the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun, Roberts was an uncredited technical support member of the Exploratorium's Total Solar Eclipse: Live From The U.S.A. presentation, and once again during the July 2nd, 2019 Total Eclipse of the Sun from Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory as a mount operator for the Exploratorium's presentation Total Solar Eclipse: Live From Chile.
Awards and Recognition
On November 16, 2000 Carolyn S. Shoemaker and David H. Levy named an asteroid 15779 scottroberts = 1993 OA3, in honor of Roberts. The minor planet was discovered July 26, 1993 by Carolyn and David at Palomar Observatory with the 18-inch Schmidt Camera. The certificate inscription reads: Named in honor of Scott Roberts (b. 1959), who for many years has encouraged amateur astronomers to pursue their love of the night sky, spending much time teaching people how to use and enjoy their telescopes.
In May 2001, Roberts received the Clifford W. Holmes Award during the 32nd Annual RTMC Astronomy Expo. In 2001 and 2002, Scott Roberts received The International Dark-sky Association, Executive Director's Award, "In recognition of enthusiastic efforts in the pursuit of the promotion of Dark Skies".
In 2004 Roberts was accepted into the Solar System Ambassadors Program, a public outreach program to inform the public about the space exploration, discoveries, and missions of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. Managed by Kay Ferrari, the Solar System Ambassadors Program is headquartered at JPL in Pasadena, California.
In July 2008, Scott W. Roberts was presented the Astronomical League Special Award, "In grateful appreciation for his outstanding dedication to the amateur astronomy community".
A lifelong dream of Scott's was to own an Airstream. He acquired a vintage 1968 Overlander and started on a complete restoration. The Airstream is used for Robert's astronomy-related events that have taken place all over the United States. His Airstream has been officially named "Barbara Jean" after his mother who loved to travel. In 2019, Scott and the Barbara Jean were featured at the USS Hornet to be representatives for Airstream and Explore Scientific for a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Splashdown Event.
Barbara Jean the Vintage Airstream has been featured by Airstream on their website, and enjoys a popular following in social media. The "Barbara Jean" Wally Byam International Club Member numbers are 8868. Roberts is on the roster of Airstream Ambassadors.
Roberts has served on the board of directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the International Dark-Sky Association, the National Sharing the Sky Foundation, Astronomers Without Borders, and NWA Space. In 2019, Scott formed the Explore Alliance to support its members and to recognize exemplary individuals and organizations devoted to exploring the universe across the disciplines of astronomy, microscopy, and terrestrial nature.