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As the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico attracts thousands of visitors each year of all ages and from many countries. Pride in the Observatory has caused local Puerto Rican organizations to contribute the funds necessary for the construction of the new Arecibo Observatory Visitor and Educational Facility (AOVEF). Funds to develop the exhibits were obtained through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The Observatory is the main facility of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, which is operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The AOVEF consists of approximately 9,000 square feet of building and outdoor program space. It will house about 3500 square feet of exhibits, a 100 person multi-purpose theater, a science merchandise store and appropriate meeting rooms and workspace. We expect to be able to begin construction in early 1995. Based on current experience, we anticipate that half of the expected 100,000 visitors per year will be school children brought by buses from their schools and half will be families and individuals, coming for a visit on their own. Details about our project and a discussion of the contents of the exhibitions which are being prepared will be presented.
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