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Observatorio de Arecibo Arecibo, PR
Who would think that the world’s largest radar-radio telescope could be found hidden in the hills of a small Caribbean island?
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Who would think that the world’s largest radar-radio telescope could be found hidden in the hills of a small Caribbean island? The rugged terrain of Puerto Rico’s northwestern karst country provided the perfect location for the 20-acre dish, operated by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center of Cornell University. As one would expect from such an impressive structure, the “observatorio” has become a must-see attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Visitors are welcomed into a two-story center which features several interactive exhibits on all sorts of astronomical phenomena, as well as a gift shop. The entry fee also grants you access to a safeguarded, but for some, vertigo-inducing observation deck. The dish is a whopping 1,000 feet in diameter, but its large size is appropriate for being able to reflect cosmic radio signals. However, its size does not allow for the dish to be aimed, and so the radio signals are actually picked up by a series of antennae that can be seen moving along tracks suspended 450 feet above the dish. One could say that scientists use it to “listen in” on the universe. The spacious, often-quiet surroundings belie the round-the-clock activity within the observatory’s research facilities, while the lush, green vegetation in this area provides a striking backdrop for such a giant structure built by human hands.
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