Saturday, April 11, 2009

Very Large Array

The Plains of San Agustin lie about 50 miles west of Socorro, New Mexico between the small towns of Magdalena and Datil.

The area is a vast area of desert, ringed by mountains in the distance. It's immense and wild .... but then ....

As you enter the plains, you can see the 27 radio antennas in the distance, and as you get closer it is an astounding sight to see! To me it was surreal, seeing all these huge antennas pointed at the sky. (I felt like I was viewing a scene from X-Files or the movie Contact.) To see all this super-technology way out in the middle of nowhere is just an amazing sight.

The Very Large Array (VLA) is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The 27 antennas are arranged in a gigantic Y formation, and the images from all of them are combined into one huge picture of galaxies, stars, quasars and other events in space. I don't understand all of it, but I understand more than I did before I visited the visitor center last Saturday, when the NRAO was hosting an open house at the facility.

The Very Large Array -- just another one of New Mexico's interesting sights and relatively unknown treasures.







6 comments:

Buck said...

Ah... the VLA is MOST amazing, innit? I tried to post a stitched three-pic layout of the VLA quite some time ago, but Blogger refused to accept it in its entirety. Close, but no cigar: a VLP of the VLA. (A Very Large Picture of the Very Large Array.)

I spent half a day there and feel like I need to go back for more!

Karin Hosenfeld BS, RD/LD said...

I can see the impressiveness of this display, though I know NM is full of those things you "just have to see in person". I'm sure this doesn't capture the full feeling of being there. Did you run into Mulder or Skully? Or....the smoking man?

Towanda said...

Thanks for the link, Buck. Now THAT picture really gives an idea just how cool it really looks out there.

Karin -- honest to God, if I HAD seen Mulder or Scully out there I would not have been surprised. And now come to mention it .... I think I DID see the smoking man lurking around the parking lot at the visitors center. LOL

Towanda said...

Thanks for the link, Buck. Now THAT picture really gives an idea just how cool it really looks out there.

Karin -- honest to God, if I HAD seen Mulder or Scully out there I would not have been surprised. And now come to mention it .... I think I DID see the smoking man lurking around the parking lot at the visitors center. LOL

Jo Castillo said...

This is a nice post, too. Great to see and remind us. You know that Contact was partly filmed at the VLA and Socorro and maybe Magdalena.

Towanda said...

Hi Jo.
I had heard they filmed some scenes from Contact there, and it sure was a perfect place for it. I was really overwhelmed with the eerie feel of the place -- and the sight of all those antennas way out there in the desert was just stunning!