Astronomy: The Man on the Mountain

(See Cover).

Some 30 evenings a year, Astronomer Maarten Schmidt, 36, struggles with an electrically heated flight suit and enters the great, silvery dome of California's Mount Palomar Observatory. There, his tall, gangling frame seems suddenly reduced to Lilliputian proportions by the mammoth, 200-in. telescope that towers above him. An elevator hauls him slowly to a cylindrical observer's cage inside the telescope itself, and the dome's curved doors slide open to the cold mountain air. Perched high above the observatory floor, with classical music from an all-night Los Angeles radio station in...

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