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Robert E. Stencel Papers

Identifier: M487


Robert E. Stencel was a Professor of Astronomy, Univeristy Astronomer for the University of Denver, Director of the Chamberlin and Mt. Evans Observatories, and Director of the Student Astronomy Lab. He has built out the educational program at Chamberlin Observatory to deliver messaging about the importance of dark skies and good lighting to attendees at the Denver Astronomical Society’s Public Nights, which often draw hundreds of visitors. His papers also inculde correspondence, teaching material, syllabi, and research notes. There are boxes that contain research for his work on a TNTCAM, infrared, Super Giants, and tapes that go along with research.


  • 1979 - 2019

Biographical / Historical

Robert Stencel was born in 1950 near Wausau, WI. He obtained his B.S. in Physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1972, and his PhD in Astronomy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1977, where he met his wife, Susan.

His thesis concerned spectroscopy of evolved stars. He spent a long time in postdoctoral jobs working with the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite, including National Research Council appointments at NASA Johnson and NASA Goddard, JILA - U of Colorado, and a stint as a Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters. The NASA HQ job featured starts for the Astro mission of Shuttle-based telescopes, and the launch of the Astrophysics Theory Program. In 1985, he joined the University of Colorado Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy as its first Executive Director, while also developing new research interests in infrared astronomy.

In 1992 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Denver as the first William Herschel Womble Professor of Astronomy. He pursued information about "educational astrophysics and [how] to develop, equip and operate a mountaintop observatory". Soon after came the rehabilitation of Denver's historic Chamberlin Observatory (1894), the construction of the new Meyer-Womble Observatory atop 14,268 ft elevation Mt.Evans in Colorado (1997), and the outfitting of a new Student Astronomy Lab with rooftop telescope on campus (2001). He also focused on renewable energy sources for Mt.Evans observatory, archaeoastronomy, and political activity to address light pollution problems in Colorado.

He retired from the University of Denver in September 2021.



12.5 Linear Feet (10 Standard Record Boxes, 2 Card File Boxes, 1 Print Box, 1 Half record Box)

Scope and Contents

The Robert E. Stencel papers contains articles authored, and co-authored, by Robert E. Stencel, personal and professional correspondence, teaching materials related to his classes, syllabi for those classes, personal photographs, drafts of his book "Denver’s Great Telescope", notes and personal research, as well as light pollution information and research.

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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