08 June 2011

Arecibo Photo Addendum 2

One of my Cornell mentors and, later, colleagues was Prof. Donald Belcher, a pioneer in aerial photographic interpretation. Among many fascinating achievements, D.J. Belcher & Associates selected the site for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, as well as the site for the Arecibo Observatory. 

High on the list of scientific and engineering criteria used to narrow possible worldwide locations for the site of the observatory was finding a natural geologic bowl of suitable dimensions to facilitate economic construction of the 1000 foot, bowl-shaped reflector. 

These two photographs of the site Don chose are from my files, but there’s an excellent collection of photographs at http://www.naic.edu/public/about/photos/photogal.htm

Aerial view of the karst limestone topography and bowl-shaped site 
selected for construction of the Arecibo Observatory.

On the ground at the site of the 
Arecibo Observatory before construction.

There was an interesting article on Don and his use of air photos in the April 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics. You’ll find the article online if you search for “Donald Belcher Popular Mechanics.” (Sorry, the link fills half a page.)

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