The already damaged Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico has collapsed overnight. It played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century, but its 900-ton receiver platform and the four-story tall Gregorian dome that houses secondary reflectors fell onto the northern portion of the reflector dish over 400 feet below. The U.S. National Science Foundation announced today that it would be closed. Read more for a video and additional information.
Back in August this year, an auxiliary cable snapped that caused a 100-foot hole on the 1,000-foot-wide dish and also damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. Then a main cable broke in early November, which lead to its total collapse Tuesday at 7:56 am local time. After the wires snapped, the rest was just a snowball effect, as there was no way to hold the rest of the telescope up securely.
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It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was. I was screaming. Personally, I was out of control…. I don’t have words to express it. It’s a very deep, terrible feeling,” said Jonathan Friedman, who worked for 26 years as a senior research associate at the observatory and still lives near it.