The final days of the Bracewell Observatory (photos)

The final days of the Bracewell Observatory (photos)

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Ken writes – “The past week, I’ve been holding a silent nighttime funeral ritual for an impressive piece of history….Andy Kessler wrote an article that I read some months ago regarding some radio telescope dishes near Stanford and the history that those dishes contain. Ever since then, I have been plotting to go there and photograph them under the light of the moon and stars. Last week, I heard that the destruction of the dishes was imminent and I realized that I needed to make time for them. After a false start, I followed Andy’s instructions, found the correct road, went over the rickety bridge, and drove between rows of trees on the driveway on a gravel road. Suddenly, the dish was there, to my right and still in good shape.

Even with the corrosion that only decades of neglect can bring, the dishes were still stunning. It was just me, some shipping containers, and the dishes, pointed as if they were still listening to something in space. I spent some time there, “painting” them with colored light, knowing that this was probably one of the last times they would be photographed before their destruction.

On Saturday night, I went back to see how the dishes looked. I took a wrong turn, then a second one, and then I saw what had happened. The dish that had welcomed me last time was the only one of its kind left standing, but
barely as it even had a pretty good chunk taken out of it. I managed to go back on Sunday night with my wife and a friend to photograph some ghostly images.

The people who were trying to save the dishes wanted to turn it into a resource for amateur scientists, college underclassmen, and a place for people to visit so they could listen to the cosmos.

When I got lost on the way there, I drove down streets with expensive cars parked in front of expensive houses. A lot of rich people live around there. That site, at least in terms of dollar value, are worth more without those dishes. Encouraging amateur scientists and letting people listen to the cosmos cannot have a dollar value attached to it.”Link.

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