10 telescopes battling mountain light pollution
SUMMIT COUNTY – From his home in the Keystone Ranch neighborhood, Glenn Montgomery has a nearly unimpeded view of the southern sky. And that’s a good thing, since he also has 10 telescopes that he uses to scan the solar system and galaxies beyond.”I’ve got a perfect view of the line of planets, known as the elliptic, or the equator of the sky,” Montgomery says while standing in his living room beside one of the newest additions to his collection, a magnificent instrument built by Alvan Clark, one of the greatest telescope builders of all time.Montgomery is also intimately familiar with another one of Clark’s masterpieces, the historic 20-inch Clark-Saegmuller refractor telescope in the Chamberlin Observatory at the University of Denver. In fact, the Summit County resident recently finished editing and publishing a book on the school’s telescope.
“Denver’s Great Telescope,” by Claire M. Stencel and Robert E. Stencel, will be on sale March 1 at the Tattered Cover in Denver and several other locations, including Chamberlin Observatory. Montgomery supported the book project as the financial underwriter.Montgomery, who describes himself as “40-something, plus shipping and handling,” moved to Colorado about 25 years ago and made his mark as an entrepreneur in the tech sector, guiding a computer systems company to a public stock offering and then orchestrating a sale to a larger Fortune 500 company. He moved to Summit County about five years ago.His passion for astronomy has led him from Summit Cove Elementary’s second-grade classrooms, where he teaches astronomy to youngsters, to Chile, Hawaii and many other countries, where, together with Stencel, he has visited many of the world’s great observatories. That includes sites like Machu Picchu and Stonehenge, prehistoric observatory sites where Montgomery pursues his interest in archaeoastronomy . The science is a relatively new field rooted in discoveries made at Stonehenge in the 1960s that provides perspectives for the history of human interaction with the cosmos.
By the end of this year, Montgomery says he will have visited every country in the Western Hemisphere. Next stop is Panama, where he plans to kayak through the Panama Canal, followed by a visit to Venezuela in April.But closer to home, Montgomery some day hopes to establish an observatory in Summit County, a place to introduce local residents, especially youngsters, to the wonders of the heavens. He’s concerned about the trend of ever-increasing light pollution – or what he calls “sky glow” – which, he said, is caused by misdirected lights that cast wayward glare to the sky, making it harder to see the stars. For now, he says his Keystone Ranch neighborhood is still one of the best places around for celestial observations. But the overall trend is toward degradation of night skies, he said.
Towns should impose strict lighting regulations and give incentives for using technologies that reduce glare, he said. “It’s not too late for Summit County, but it could be in 10 or 15 years,” he said. Vail, Colorado