In March of 2011, Becky (my wife) and I are visiting Puerto Rico when we decided to rent-a-car for the day and drive to the Arecibo Astronomical Observatory.
Pictured below, The main instrument at the observatory is the Arecibo Telescope, a 305 m spherical reflector dish built into a natural sinkhole, a cable-mount steerable receiver mounted 150 m above the dish, and several radar transmitters for emitting signals. For more than 50 years, the Arecibo Telescope was the world’s largest single-aperture telescope, surpassed in July 2016 by the 500 m Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China.
The Arecibo Telescope was primarily used for research in radio astronomy, atmospheric science, and radar astronomy, as well as for programs that Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The telescope’s unique and futuristic design led to several appearances in film, gaming and television productions, such as for the climactic fight scene in the 1995 James Bond film “Golden Eye” and the Jodie Foster movie, “Contact”.
Built in 1963, Arecibo was one of the best facilities in the world for observations ranging from “mysterious blasts of Radio Waves from Deep Space” to tracking “near-Earth Asteroids” that could potentially crash into our planet.
Recently, the National Science Foundation, announced on November 19, 2020, that it would decommission and dismantle the telescope after a series of damaging natural disasters.