The Arecibo Observatory is a 1000 foot single radio dish, that until 2016, was the largest in the world. To this day, it is used in three major areas of research: radio astronomy, atmospheric science, and radar astronomy.
Scientists who want to use the observatory submit proposals that are evaluated by an independent scientific board.
This impressive dish has been featured in such movies as Contact and Goldeneye, but apparently, Pierce Brosnan was so afraid to run the catwalk to the receiver, that he had a body double film most his scenes. I don’t blame him! The catwalk is so high and sways with with slightest movement! 😱
After Hurricane Maria 👉 When we visited Arecibo they had just regained power to the station. Although their official re-opening wasn’t to be until January 19th, they graciously allowed us access to the station for a personal viewing.
During the storm, the massive 900 tonne receiver, that is suspended over the dish by cables, was lowered almost to the ground so that it could sway back and forth with the hurricane winds. Thankfully, damage was minimal!
Our visit was short and sweet, but on a normal day, tours are taken through the grounds where you will watch a short movie before walking onto the observation deck. They also serve snacks there for you and have a gift shop with various memorabilia and science-related toys.
The reasoning for this stunning dish being placed in Puerto Rico was because they needed US ground and they were on the lookout for a natural crater. It just so happened, that Puerto Rico had a limestone sinkhole that fit the bill!
How does it work? 👉 Incoming rays are bounced off the reflector and into the receiver that is suspended over the dish. The receiver can be “steered” to move up, down and side to side to absorb different rays.
Fun Fact 👉 In 1974, the Arecibo Message was sent out in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life. This message included basic information about humanity and earth and was pointed towards a cluster of stars approximately 25,000 lightyears.
So if we are not alone in this solar system, we can safely say, that Puerto Rico made first contact! 😉👽
5 Globetrotters Tip 👉 Watch Contact and Goldeneye before visiting the Observatory!
⏰: Open daily from 9:00 am – 4:00pm
💰: Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children
🗺: Located in Arecibo