Goodbye Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory has made the headlines in the last few days. But sadly for the wrong reasons. It has collapsed and will be scrapped in the next few years. It is sad to see such an amazing scientific institution collapse in front of our eyes. This is a huge loss for the Astronomy and Physics community.

The video showing the moment the telescope collapsed.

Months ago before Covid19, I had the privilege to visit the observatory when I was in Puerto Rico. It is a phenomenal site! The site of the telescope is built in a densely thick forest on a natural sinkhole; and surrounded by picturesque little villages nearby where most of the researchers live.

With a monumental size of 305 m diameter dish, it was the world’s largest single-aperture telescope since 1963. It was only surpassed in 2016 by the even bigger; the 500m-diameter telescope built in China. The old age of the telescope and the many hurricanes it went through had contributed to noticeable structural damage.

Seeing the telescope from above a platform didn’t make it appear that large. Nevertheless, the complexity of the design and beauty of the entire site is something to be seen in person. Alas, one may not have a chance anymore. Here in memory of the observatory, I am sharing some of the pictures I took while onsite.