Flashback Friday: Arecibo Observatory Puerto Rico

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my parents took me to the Arecibo Observatory Visitor Center in Puerto Rico. That visit really made an impression on me. Ever since then I have been really interested in the Cosmos.

In 2011 I took a family vacation to visit Puerto Rico and again visit the Arecibo Observatory Visitor Center. We drove a very curvy steep road for hours before we reached the observatory. When we arrived it was as fascinating as I remembered it to be. It almost felt like we had trespassed onto a secret government base from the X-Files or something.

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We parked and started walking up the long stairway to the top of the mountain where the observatory and visitor center is located. As you go up along the walk way there are structures that are scale models of the our solar system in the appropriate order. Each stainless steel sign had information about all 8 planets in both English and Spanish. The signs also contained a color model of the planets inside a transparent area of the sign that had demonstrated the each planets distinct features. 

Those signs were definitely new. I did not see those when I was a kid visiting for the first time. So, it was good to go and acquire new memories of the observatory.

Close up of Jupiter sign.
Inside the observatory visitor center was like a science museum with the charts and the graphics on the walls. All explaining the science of it all.
Observatory educational areas.
They also had a miniature version of the satellite on display. It was very detailed and super cool.
Satellite Model.
Satellite in Arecibo, Puerto Rico 2011
Satellite in Arecibo, Puerto Rico 2011.

 

What makes the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico so interesting?

“It has a 1000 foot (305 meter) radio telescope  the world’s largest single-aperture telescope. The dish surface is made of 38,778 perforated aluminum panels, each about 3 by 6 feet (1 by 2 m), supported by a mesh of steel cables. The ground beneath is accessible and supports shade-tolerant vegetation.[11] Puerto Rico’s location near the Northern Tropic allows Arecibo to view the planets in the Solar System over the Northern half of their orbit.”––Wikipedia

 And it has been featured in movies like Contact (1997) , Jame Bond Goldeneye (1995), and yes X-Files too!

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