Monday, May 2, 2011

Arecibo Observatory

An optical telescope gathers the light coming from a distant object, such as a star or planet. Visible light, though, is only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from very low energy (long wavelength) to high energy (short wavelength). It's just the set of energies that happen to interact with our eyes. Stars and other astronomical objects produce energy over the whole range, and radio telescopes can gather information about these stars by looking at this energy. The Arecibo Observatory in Peurto Rico is the largest single aperture telescope around at 1000 feet in diameter, and it has led to such discoveries as the first binary pulsar, the first extrasolar planets, and prebiotic molecules in a distant galaxy. You may also recognize it from movies like Contact, where Jodie Foster first meets Matthew McConaughey. BTW, that movie ends at ... (hmm, guess you'll have to come back tomorrow) ...

Along with this, John Knight has done a number of other virtual LEGO models, including a highly detailed Space Shuttle, Vostok 1 and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, among others. I hope he gets around to building these out of actual LEGO bricks. I know he has some, such as he used in his Hubble Telescope.

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