|One of the world's great telescopes.|
For 60 years The Arecibo Observatory was home to a giant 600-ton suspended platform containing the largest single dish radar-radio telescope in the world. The telescope discovered the first quasar, the star-like celestial objects that appear far from earth and that emit powerful radio waves. The radio telescope was considered a jewel, with a radio dish that spanned 1,000 feet (305 meters) across. It became famous for its appearances in movies such as "Contact" and James Bond's "GoldenEye."
Then, in December of 2020, the 900-ton science hanging platform and the dish crashed toearth due to a faulty cable. Watch the collapse here. The 20-acre dish formerly rested on a karst-created sinkhole 1,300 feet across. The telescope may be gone but the observatory is still at work. Part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, it is operated by the University of Central Florida under an agreement with the National Science Foundation.
The visitor center reopened in spring of 2022. 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 and once had an excellent view of the huge dish. Plans for a next generation radar telescope are being discussed.
The educational exhibits cover everything from basic astronomy to using the electromagnetic spectrum as an exploration tool that extends our direct sensory experience.
Directions to the Observatory
It is located on the northwest side of the island near the industrial city of Arecibo.. 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.
Difficulty: It's a strenuous 500 steps up to the visitor and educational facility. Bring an umbrella in case of rain.