Bucket list, – 1. It was time to go to see something I had wanted to see since 1963. And here it is.
At the time it was constructed, the radio astronomy reflector at Arecibo in Puerto Rico was the largest in the world. The dish, installed in a mountain depression, is about 1000 feet in diameter.
A week’s vacation in Puerto Rico, and there was no excuse for not driving out to see it. About an hour drive west of San Juan and south on some very interesting roadways, and there it is. Costs $8 to visit for seniors. That’s us.
It’s not just a science laboratory. Amazing exhibits in the visitor’s center bring to life the science of radio astronomy.
The dish is fixed to the ground, so training its focus is accomplished by traversing the receiver horn, supported from cables, anchored to three towers about the perimeter.
Even without the science, the place is a spectacular visit.
You have to turn off your cell phones before entering the grounds, because this place needs radio spectrum silence. The last few hundred yards are a steep road. You leave you car in the lot below and either hike or take the shuttle van to the visitor’s center.
Earlier this year there was talk of retiring this installation. Funding to operate it was needed elsewhere. The guide at the visitor’s center gave us the good news that other sources have picked up the funding, and operations will continue.
Go see it if you can.