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My son Gabriel, a freshman in the astrophysics program at Penn State, took this photograph during a one week field trip to the Arecibo Observatory with his research mentor, Dr. Alex Wolzsczan. Located in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, this is the largest radio telescope in the world.The photograph was shot while standing on one side of the triangular platform, which is locked with the circular azimuth, allowing for the display of the opposite triangular peak of the platform, seen toward the upper mid-left section of the image. One can also nicely appreciate the opposite circular area of the azimuth, all hidden in amidst the natural tree-scape of the Arecibo mountains that host the magnificent radio telescope. The 900-ton platform of the Arecibo Observatory is suspended 450 feet above the reflector dish (radio mirror), which supports the antennas and receivers that can be positioned with millimeter precision to point at any direction in the �Arecibo� sky. The circular azimuth is incrusted within the triangular platform (a circular form within a triangular one ...), and it holds the azimuth arm which moves the Gregorian dome, named in honor of James Gregory, one of the foremost mathematicians of the seventeenth century. Thus, as you can see, the shot was taken far over the ground within the sky that is above the radio telescope's dish.
The observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC). It is operated by three entities, Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and Metropolitan University (UMET) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A Cornell Professor called William E. Gordon is the author of the creation of the Observatory based on his interest in the study of the Ionosphere. Because of Dr. William Gordon persistence, the construction of the Observatory began in the Summer of 1960 and culminated in 1963, being actually named as the Arecibo Observatory: The William E. Gordon Telescope, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. Those who come to visit and see the radio telescope for their first time are astounded by the enormousness of the reflecting surface, radio mirror, or the reflector, not seen in the photograph. This huge "dish" is 305 m or 1000 feet in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers an area of about twenty acres. The surface of the reflector dish is made of almost 40,000 perforated aluminum panels, seen in the photograph from above and from below. Importantly, the reflector of the Arecibo Radio Telescope is spherical, rather than parabolic.
April 23rd, 2013
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