Jesse Greenstein passed away in 2002. He joined the California Institute of Technology's Astronomy Department in 1948, just as Palomar was coming on line, and has spent many of the subsequent years using the 200-inch telescope to make spectroscopic observations of faint hot stars called white dwarfs.
Let us take you back to the summer of 1995, when Jesse, then 85, came back one more time to the primary focus cage of the Hale Telescope. He brought with him the trustworthy spectrograph he had used on countless observing nights. Even after so many years, he was still captivated by the atmosphere the observing dome. And his fascination spellbound everyone who had the incredible fortune to share this experience with him.
"When the telescope was built, an observer had to ride throughout the night in the prime focus cage to ensure accurate tracking of the telescope. The astronomer ascended to the cage, eighty feet above the floor, in a specially designed elevator."
"You also had to have a tough bladder because, if possible, if it was a good night, you stayed up from seven o'clock to five. That's ten hours!"
"Working a night in the small cage high above the primary mirror, feeling closer to the stars than the earth, remains an exhilarating and unforgettable experience."