Within a year, the world’s current largest single-dish radio telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, will lose its title. It will instead be usurped by this: the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, China.
In 1890, Arthur Kennelly, an electrical engineer working for Thomas Edison, wrote a letter to the director of the Lick Observatory. He described an interesting experiment being undertaken by the great inventor that may have been the first radio telescope — forty years before its official invention.
Earlier this week, a hunk of rock called asteroid 2005 YU55 came within smashing distance of Earth. It was purported to be the size of an aircraft carrier, and wound up flying by us at a distance of just under 200,000 miles, much closer than the Moon.
Yeah, you read that headline right. This supermassive radio telescope, set to be completed in Chile in 2012 (you're seeing an artist's rendering), listens to frequencies between the infrared and radio spectrum. It tunes in particles that will give astronomers an unprecedented portrait of the early universe, as well…