The Arecibo Observatory: Puerto Rico's Giant Radio Telescope in Photos

Arecibo Observatory

IPS/Alinari Archives, Florence/Alinari via Getty

The Arecibo Observatory is an icon of astronomy. The giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico opened in 1963 and is the second-largest of its kind on Earth. See photos of Arecibo over the years in our gallery here.

This Photo: Arecibo is made of a large radio-radar telescope sitting in a mountain cavity, seen here in a 1965 photo.

Brave Players

Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Dr. Jill Tarter, who directed the search for life outside Earth as a project scientist for NASA's Ames Research Center and SETI, is seen at the Arecibo complex in this undated photo. Behind her the radio telescope dish is 500 feet below.

A 305-Meter Telescope

Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Observatory's radio telescope dish measures 305 meters across.

High in the Hills


This June 6, 2014 image shows the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope nestled in the hills of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Famous Places

United Artists

In the 1995 James Bond film Goldeneye, adventures bring the spy to the Arecibo Observatory.

Search for Life

Everett Collection

In the 1997 film Contact, Jodie Foster portrayed Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who discovers evidence of life in space.

Arecibo from the Air

Arecibo Observatory/NSF

An aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Troubled Times

Jose M. Osorio/TNS/Zuma

On March 9, 2007, the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory faced financial struggles threatening to close the facility, but ultimately remained online. Here, platform workers ride a cable car out to the telescope.

Record-holding Location


Workers make their way to the center of the Arecibo Telescope on February 20, 2013.

Arecibo Radio Observatory

NAIC Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the National Science Foundation

Another view of Puerto Rico's Arecibo radio observatory, which astronomers use to listen for possible signals from alien civilizations, among other things.

The Dome


From the center of the telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, the observatory dome hangs.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.