By Susan Motander
It is December and many people look skyward, some for a star heralding a new arrival others to the north for a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Some people make a hobby of looking to the heavens years round — these are the amateur astronomers among us.
One such astronomer hobbyist is Glenn Cox in Monrovia. Many Monrovians will remember him as the calm and steady hand guiding the redevelopment agency for the city as its assistant executive director for almost 30 years. He was the constant with city managers coming and going as the executive director but Cox gave the continuity needed during those years of rebuilding what had been an almost dying community.
Being a humble person, Cox points to others, giving them the credit, including former City Managers Jim Starbird and Don Hopper and councilmembers such as Bob Bartlett, Eric Faith and Pat Ostrye. But after his retirement in 2002 (he had started with the city in 1973) things continued to look up for Cox — this time all the way to the heavens.
He redeveloped an interest in astronomy. “I first got interested as a kid when my father had a 6-inch telescope in about 1955. At that time the 6-inch scope was considered huge.” To put this in perspective, the telescope he and astronomy buddy Chris Spellman have just completed has a 29-inch mirror. It took the two of them 1.5 to almost 2 years to complete and they have spent the last year perfecting it. And now they are selling it.
But despair not. Cox still has his backup telescope, a smaller scope with a 17.5-inch mirror. Asked what the most astonishing thing he had ever viewed through his telescopes, Cox replied “M13” explaining that the “M” stood for Messier, Charles Messieer, a French astronomer who published an astronomical catalogue of 110 nebulae and faint star clusters.
Cox described M13 as being a globular cluster in Hercules or the Hercules Globular Cluster. He said it consisted of several hundred stars in the constellation of Hercules. He also said that astonishing was the right word to describe it. “It looks like a bunch of diamond pins in a pincushion,” he explained.
Asked about the most beautiful thing he had ever viewed he answered with another M-number; this time Messier 42 in the center of the Orion constellation. He explained that it has a cluster of six stars at the center of the nebula that is more than 24 light years across with a mass of more than 2,000 times that of the sun. He explained that there is color to this and that it is indeed beautiful.
So take a moment this year to relax and just look up, perhaps not in the next few overcast days but soon and regularly.