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RIP Arecibo telescope — you’ll be missed


OK, 2020 — just stop it already.

As might seem appropriate, at the start of 2020, astronomers using Arecibo found an asteroid resembling the head of a person wearing a face mask. The mighty telescope, a victim of multiple disasters, would finally be pushed to the edge and beyond. Before the year was over, the telescope would be dead.

In July 2016, the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China came online, and Arecibo lost its title of the largest single-aperture telescope in the world.

Hurricane Maria struck the dish in September 2017, destroying 30 of the facility’s 38,000 aluminum panels. Although relatively minor, this was the first in a series of unfortunate events for Arecibo.