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 phone home.
Its remoteness in the RF-free mountains of the Caribbean makes it perfect for use in exploring space, but a pain in the ass to visit. The journey to the observatory takes 90 minutes from San Juan through the mountains and jungles of Puerto Rico; you’ll encounter plenty of chickens and goats on the (sometimes) paved roads.
With the loss of cellular service gives a good indication that you’re close to the observatory; you’ll begin to see signs requiring all visitors to turn off cell radios, and two-way radios. The remainder of the journey was pretty easy thanks to the marked road signs.
Once you arrive at the visitor center, you can be guaranteed of no lines 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 observatory, astronomy, and access to overpriced gift shop stuff.
Outside the observatory building is a ledge overlooking the 1000 ft diameter radio telescope that humans created to explore the furthest reaches of space.
If you’re a science nerd, and in Puerto Rico – it’s worth a visit.