Puerto Rico
Arecibo Observatory
One of the world's great telescopes.

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Directions: On the northwest side of the island. Coming from San Juan, take Hwy 22 to the Rt. 10 exit to Utuado. After a few miles, turn left onto Rt. 652, which connects with Rt. 635 and Rt. 625, which will take you into Arecibo.

Coming from Rio Camuy, Take Rt. 129 to Rt. 134, continuing to the right on Rt. 635, then turning right again into Rt. 625 and Arecibo.

Hours: Wednesday through Friday from noon to 4, weekends and most holidays from 9-4. Admission fee. Information: 787/878-2612 or www.naic.edu.

Difficulty: It's 500 steps to the visitor and educational facility. Bring an umbrella in case of rain.

An industrial center, Arecibo is most noted for 600-ton suspended platform of the Arecibo Observatory, the largest single dish radar-radio telescope in the world. It discovered the first quasar, the star-like celestial objects that appear far from earth and that emit powerful radio waves.

The Arecibo Observatory is actually a 20-acre dish fitted into a karst-created sinkhole 1,300 feet across. It is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center operated by Cornell University under an agreement with the National Science Foundation.

The Angel Ramos Foundation Visitor Center and Educational Facility has 10,000 square feet of building and outdoor space. It contains 3,500 square feet of exhibits, an observation platform and an excellent view of the huge dish.

The educational exhibits cover everything from basic astronomy to using the electromagnetic spectrum as an exploration tool that extends our direct sensory experience.

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