An organization is only as strong as its members, and here at the Grand Mesa Observatory we have a truly incredible team made up of community members and astrophotographers alike! Please take a moment to learn all about our staff and board members here:

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  Staff

  Terry Hancock    (Director)

Terry Hancock

(Director)

Terry's interests in Astronomy began when he was thirteen and found himself inspired by the writings of the astonomer Sir Patrick Moore, and under the dark skies of the Australian outback he found what would ultimately be his life's calling. Terry's astrophotos have been published by NASA and featured in Astronomy, Sky at Night, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Now, National Geographic, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, Space.com, and many other well-known online publications. In 2016, he retired from his career in the commercial sign business and moved to Colorado where he supervised the construction of the Grand Mesa Observatory, brought it to an operational status, and now runs the day-to-day operations.

 

Volunteer Staff

  Isaac Garfinkle      (Asst. Director)

Isaac Garfinkle 

(Asst. Director)

Isaac first came to the world of astronomy as a hobbyist, but after he and his wife moved from Philadelphia to Grand Junction in the Spring of 2016 that passion was finally able to become a profession. Isaac runs a small consultancy company and serves as a technical support specialist to the retail astronomy industry, but through his focus on astrophotography this endeavor has moved in to social media and public outreach as well. Isaac holds a Master's degree in Social Work from Temple University in Philadelphia, and during his time in this program he primarily focused on nonprofit management and community development.

In addition to the 6 years spent working in behavioral health, Isaac has also worked in research psychology, small business development, and educational outreach capacities. Having worked for such organizations as New Leash on Life USA and Episcopal Community Service in Philadelphia, Isaac's experience includes grant writing, fundraising, data analysis, and outcomes-driven program design. In 2017 Isaac and his wife took up residence next to the observatory in Whitewater, where he will be assisting Terry with operational tasks as well as helping with fundraising, web design, and community engagement. Isaac is currently serving as the vice president of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club, and is an active member of the local nonprofit community.

 

  Nancy McGuire     (  Outreach and Public Relations)

Nancy McGuire

(Outreach and Public Relations)

Nancy's passion for science began at an early age. In particular, the sight of the planet Saturn through a small refractor telescope initiated a lifelong love of astronomy. While not her career, astronomy became an avid hobby. She was a member and President of the S*T*A*R (Society for Telescope and Radio) astronomy club in New Jersey, and also a member and President of the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society in Central New York. She is now the President of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club.

Her career in the materials science industry began as a chemist. With a highly specialized technical background, she then spent five years as a technical sales representative. An acquisition of the company by a Fortune 500 company led to the next phase of her career as a Global Marketing Manager. In this capacity she traveled all over the world to support customers and promote products, led a team responsible for the growth of the business segment, developed market segment business plans, and was responsible for all promotional materials and advertising.

Nancy now uses the skills developed during her professional life to help realize a mission to promote astronomy to the people of Western Colorado. Public outreach and youth mentoring are her areas of focus.

 

  Lora  Siminoe Wynn     (Administrative Manager)

Lora  Siminoe Wynn

(Administrative Manager)

Lora was born in Grand Junction, Colorado and graduated from Nucla High School. She began her career as a dispatcher for the Colorado State Patrol for a large area of Western Colorado including West End Montrose and San Miguel County and 7 rural towns as well as 1st contact point for emergency situations and Air Traffic Controller at the age of 19.

She and her husband Dennis have 2 grown children. Dennis and Lora started their own Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning business in 1999 and have been fortunate to be involved in the mechanical side construction of the Grand Junction Police Department and Public Safety Building, the Western Slope Children’s Center and numerous projects including Colorado Mountain College Projects all over the Western Slope.

Lora and her family reside on the home ranch just down the road from the Grand Mesa Observatory. Lora and Vicki Mansur’s families have been neighbors and friends since the late 1800’s. She and her family are excited about the Grand Mesa Observatory and sharing with the Western Slope and the world what few have been privileged to enjoy their entire lives.

 

  Robert Vice    (Remote Technical Support)

Robert Vice

(Remote Technical Support)

Robert is an avid astronomer/photographer born and raised in Southwest Missouri. His passion for astronomy started at an early age. Armed with a small telescope, he spent many nights studying the stars. When he was 9, he met a local retired science teacher who took him under his wing and introduced him to astrophotography. He spent countless nights using an 8” Schmidt Cassegrain telescope and a 35mm film camera to image the heavens. Later he was introduced to using a dark room where he could develop and print the pictures he took. In high school Robert was part of a group that helped raise money to construct the Stilabower Public Observatory. Throughout his Lamar High School years, he was responsible for operating the observatory and giving presentations to classmates and the public.

Robert attended Missouri Southern State College and worked on a degree in Music Education prior to changing to Law Enforcement, and then attended the MSSC Police Academy. He returned to MSSU in 2003 to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and Associate in Law Enforcement and a minor in music.

Robert's professional career began in law enforcement at the local Sheriff’s Department. His career path then led to the Radio and Communications Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Division of Motor Carrier Services as a Senior Investigator, and a company in Joplin, MO as a Safety / Risk Management Specialist. Today Robert is responsible for the safety training of over 65 companies throughout several states and is also an instructor in First Aid, CPR and AED. Besides working as a Safety / Risk Management Specialist. He is also the Acting Chief of Police in the town where he and his wife and children live. When time allows, Robert spends a great deal of time working on his astrophotography techniques as well as helping others to achieve their best.

 

  Tom Masterson    (Beta Tester)

Tom Masterson

(Beta Tester)

Tom's fondness for astronomy started at a young age while watching Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" with his family. After receiving his first telescope as a gift from his loving parents and girlfriend, he caught the astrophotography and amateur astronomy bug in 2013. A former student of Terry Hancock, Tom has used the skills and tools he learned from Terry's courses and has developed his own unique style of astrophotography. Tom's images have been published around the internet, most notably on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), BBC Sky at Night, Universe Today and others. He joins the Grand Mesa Observatory staff as a beta tester to help test out data from the telescope systems.

When not under the stars or staring at a computer screen processing astrophotos, Tom works in the Information Technology field mainly focusing on low-voltage engineering, computer systems, networking, security and automation. He enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Victoria, taking their Jack Russell Terrier, Frida, to the park, and petting his tuxedo cat, Melissa, while she lies across his desk as he is trying to work. He also likes listening to music, surfing, snowboarding and reading/watching science fiction.

 

  Peyton Utt    (Student Ambassador)

Peyton Utt

(Student Ambassador)

Peyton first became interested in astronomy at the age of 6 when he read a National Geographic book about space and was instantly hooked. Soon after, he began watching any video he could find about space and astronomy, further fueling his passion for the field. Peyton aspires to become a professional astronomer someday, but in his current role as GMO Student Ambassador he attends educational outreach programs such as tech expos and student career fairs, where he works the display tables engaging fellow young people in conversations about astronomy.

Having recently turned 10 years old, Peyton is the youngest member of our volunteer staff and, in addition to his work with GMO, Peyton is also one of the youngest members of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club! He is a regular at the club's public stargazing events and, much like his work with GMO, he has become well versed in showing night sky objects with his telescope to people of all ages. A special nod goes to Peyton's mother Beckie (aka "uber astro mom"), who not only drives him to the observatory and astronomy club functions but who also takes great care to provide Peyton with the tools he needs to pursue his dream of becoming an astronomer.

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Board Members

 John Mansur

John Mansur

John grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, graduating from Grand Junction High School in 1958. He received his Bachelor of Science degree
in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1963 and his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Air Force Institute of Technology in 1975. He served twenty-four years on active duty in the United States Air Force. His USAF awards include three Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Purple Heart, and 16 Air Medals. He retired in 1987 as a commander of the Eastern Space and Missile Center. In 1989, he became one of the founders, the CEO, and later Chairman of the Board of AirScan, Inc., an
airborne security and surveillance company that has operated domestically and internationally, including 8 years in Iraq under contract to the United States Army. Under his leadership, AirScan, Inc. grew to 300+ employees, 30+ aircraft, and a $100 Million annual revenue. He sold his interest in the company and retired in 2011.

 Vicki Mansur

Vicki Mansur

Victoria Rae Brouse-Mansur (Vicki) is a 4th generation Coloradoan. Two sets of great grandparents settled in Mesa County in the late 1800’s, and she was raised on the ranch where the Grand Mesa Observatory is located. She attended the Purdy Mesa community one-room country school , about 5 miles away on Divide Road. She graduated from Grand Junction High School and attended the University of Colorado, where she majored in elementary education. She and John Mansur were married in 1959 and she spent 24 years as an Air Force wife, caring for two daughters, and maintaining the sanity of a family that moved 15 times in that 24 years. After the Air Force, Vicki served first as comptroller, then member the Board of Directors of AirScan, Inc. a company that she and John, along with Walter and Chris Holloway, founded in 1989. Vicki has taught special education in public schools, taught music privately, as well as Sunday school, and served as a leader in both 4-H and Girl Scouts. She is an artist and one of her oil paintings is in the Air Force Art Collection and hangs in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington DC. She is a musician, being an accomplished harpist, piano and keyboard player, and she has recently taken up making serious music on the ukulele. She is proud to be a founder of the Grand Mesa Observatory and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Observatory.

 Terry Hancock

Terry Hancock

Terry was born in England and migrated to Australia in 1967. He worked as a professional photographer from 1972 to 1979. In 1980, he worked in the commercial sign industry in sales, design, and management. He then moved to Fremont, Michigan in 2000 and continued his work in commercial sign sales, design, and project management. In 2008, he founded Downunderobservatory.com, an online amateur astrophotography tutorial service, with instruction on equipment, image acquisition, and processing. This service reaches students all over the world.

 Dr. Jared Workman

Dr. Jared Workman

Jared received both a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a mathematics minor from Temple University.  He received his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Colorado - Boulder working under Phil Armitage.  He spent one year as a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Rochester, and in the fall of 2011 he joined the faculty of Colorado Mesa University as an Associate Professor of Physics in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. His research interests are focused on the use of semi-analytic models and numerical simulations to study high energy astrophysical phenomenon.  He has a wide variety of interests in this regard and his work has focused on angular momentum transport in accretion disks, radiative transport in gamma ray bursts, dynamical evolution of gamma ray burst afterglows, magnetohydrodynamical modeling of solar flares, and particle in cell simulations of shocks in astrophysical explosions.

 Quinton Shear

Quinton Shear

Quinton has lived in Mesa County since 1979 and has family ties to the area that go back over 100 years.  He currently serves as President Elect on the Mesa State Alumni Board, and is a member of the Redlands Rotary Club. He also serves on the Mesa County Search and Rescue Team.  He has previously served on the boards of Grand Valley Transit, Redlands Rotary, Western Colorado Boy Scouts, Western Colorado Credit Union Association as well as several committees for The Credit Union Association of Colorado. Quinton is also the President of Shear Inc., a 27-year-old family owned company in the energy industry involved in exploration, land services, and oil and gas investments. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance and management from Colorado Mesa University in 1987 and is a 1999 graduate of Western CUNA Management School.

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Founders:

                                John & Vicki Mansur

                               John & Vicki Mansur

Founders' Remarks:

The idea that led to the founding of the GMO resulted from a conversation between me (John Mansur) and my astronomy mentor (Terry Hancock) sometime in late 2015.  Terry was living in Michigan where his evening star gazing was seriously hampered by poor Michigan weather.  I was, and still am, in Florida, with warmer weather but still poor astronomy conditions.  I mentioned to Terry that I wished I had a remote-controlled observatory on our place in Colorado where you can see the Milky Way every night, and there is no light pollution.  Terry said that such an observatory would be a dream come true for him also.  The discussion continued for a few weeks, growing in size with every conversation, until we came to the conclusion that what was really needed was a roll-off observatory with at least six piers for telescopes.  I mentioned that there was no way to do this without a full-time operator to run such a project, and Terry volunteered that he would jump as such an opportunity.

I raised the possibility with Vicki (my long-suffering wife) who only rolled her eyes a little bit at the idea.  I campaigned on the idea that we would be bringing a unique capability to Western Colorado of a state-of-the-art observatory and it would be a great educational opportunity for the young people of the area.  She was intrigued partly because it would give an opportunity to continue the legacy of service to Western Colorado left by her parents, Howard and Nina Brouse, who had been the owners of the ranch where the observatory would be established.  While running an active cattle ranch, they had served the local community and the county for decades as 4H leaders and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association members.  They also helped found the Mesa County Historical Society.

With Vicki’s blessing, Terry and I agreed that he would move to the ranch and supervise the construction of our dream facility.  Vicki and I decided that we needed a house along with the observatory for the “lighthouse keeper” (Terry) to live in, so that was added to the project as well.

We consulted with Vicki’s nephew, Quint Shear, a prominent Grand Junction businessman for advice on who would be a good builder to take on our project, and he suggested Greg Toft, of Canyon Creek Builders.  I spoke with Greg, and in the spring of 2016 Greg came on board, Terry packed up his van, his cat, Twink, and set out for Colorado.  Thus, the Grand Mesa Observatory project was born.

About this time, I contacted the Physics Department of Colorado Mesa University and told them what we were planning.  Soon after I was called by Dr Jared Workman of CMU, who was excited about our project and shared with me that he had been working with the USAF Academy Falcon Telescope Network (FTN) Project for several years trying to get a proper location to establish a site for an FTN telescope for CMU. That discussion continued while construction of the house and observatory began.  Even though Terry and I had a target in our mind of being operational by about February 2017, we finally had our grand opening in July, and the GMO was truly operational. 

We now have five telescopes operating, a sixth coming on board in a few months. On October 1, we were approved as a 501.c.3 non-profit organization.   And we are pleased that, after working closely with Dr Workman for several months, we signed an agreement with CMU, effective December 1 2017, to build an observatory adjacent to the existing roll-off observatory to house an USAF FTN 20” telescope which will be one of only 12 FTN telescopes located around the world!

We are so thankful to all the people who have volunteered so much to make this dream a reality, especially Lora and Dennis Wynn - our neighbors who have helped with literally everything, the whole Purdy Mesa community, Nancy McGuire (who has not only been a great help, but is now engaged to Terry- yea!), Isaac Garfinkle (who even moved next door to be close to the GMO), and Dr Jared Workman.

 

Exciting times and clear skies ahead,

John and Vicki Mansur