The Biggest Radio Telescope in the World: "We Want To Be Citizens Of The Cosmos. We Want You To Know About Us."

Yesterday I went to the Arecibo Observatory, the biggest radio telescope in the world. It's in Puerto Rico.

Why? Because I love science and technology, and this is a really amazing piece of human achievement.

Thanks to the Arecibo Observatory, we know that the orbit of Mercury is 59 days and that neutron stars exist. The Arecibo Observatory also helped discover the first 3 extra-solar (as in, not orbiting our sun) planets, and was used by SETI in the search for extraterrestrial life and the Americans in the search Soviet information during the Cold War.

It's also a pretty fantastic piece of engineering: the platform holding all the equipment, suspended over the center, weighs over 900 tons.

I knew some of this before I went, but learned about it in more detail and more on the Arecibo Observatory Wikipedia page. (the visitor's centre is pretty comprehensive but was also pretty full of annoying kids so I didn't stick around too long inside).

While I was there, I was reminded of an episode of NPR's RadioLab about the world's geekiest, yet most beautifully romantic mixtape, a golden record that was put on the Voyager Spacecraft by Annie Druyan, wife of Carl Sagan.


RadioLab is amazing, by the way.