Arecibo Observatory

E.T. phone homeeeeeeeee

Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Observatory is home to the world’s largest single-aperture telescope.  It does super-cool things like collect data for the [email protected] project and functions for use in radio astronomy, atmospheric science, radar astronomy, not to mention allowing E.T. to actually phone home.

It’s remoteness in the RF-free mountains of the Caribbean makes it perfect for use in exploring space, but a pain in the ass to actually get to.  It’s quite a drive to Arecibo – around 90 minutes by car, including the random slowdowns from chickens and goats in the road, not to mention crappy GPS coverage and poorly marked roads.  You’re literally going into the mountainous jungles of Puerto Rico to get to the observatory.

You’ll know you’re getting close as you begin to see signs “requiring” all visitors to turn off cell radios, and two-way radios.  From this point, the rest of the journey had pretty clearly marked road signs.

Once you arrive at the visitor center, you can be guaranteed of no lines and/or waiting due to the fact you just drove to (what it seems like) a third-world country.

The visitor center is very average with a lot of cool nerd information about the site and overpriced gift shop trinkets.  It’s pretty cool (in a nerdy way) to see a 1000′ diameter radio telescope that humans created to explore the furthest reaches of space.

The Arecibo Observatory site has been featured in movies such as Contact, X-Files and GoldenEye 007.  If you’re a science nerd, and in Puerto Rico – it’s worth a visit.

Know before you go

  • 90 minute from drive San Juan
  • Cellular/GPS coverage was “meh”
  • Yes, there are really goats and chickens running around

Thought the lens


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