Susan had asked before we arrived whether we wanted to go to the VLA. Never heard of it. They have an open house for visitors once a month and we were lucky to stay an extra day to see it.
So yeah, we were inside a telescope.
I snatched this chart from the web since my photo did not turn out so well.
I can’t add anything intelligent, so I’ll just share the placards with you.
So, in my estimation, this is where we get some of those fabulous space pictures.
This is a sundial. It tells the time and date. It is also kinda artsy and pretty. You read the plaques embedded into the cement. There are also some farther out in the gravel.
Note the two antennas facing each other. The wooden fence-like railing is the size of the VLA antennas. Numerous signs say not to sit on it.
Andy and I each stood in front of one of the dishes and talked softly to each other. It’s the nerd equivalent of whispering sweet nothin’s.
Today, the telescope array was in its widest arrangement. There are nine antennas on each arm of the “Y”. There are short side spurs along the main track where the mount the antennas.
Here are Roy and Susan in front of the one we could get close to.
Here is another one with my scale model Andy.
This is the same antenna as seen from the balcony of the control building.
This ancient lake bed surrounded by mountains is an ideal place for the Very Large Array. It is flat, so they can move the antennas around on railroad tracks. It is in the middle of nowhere, away from most sources of signals that interfere with the ones from space. We were told to turn off any electronics and even put the cell phones in airplane mode before turning them off. The mountains block stray radio waves from the earth. It is at approximately seven thousand feet and has clearer, cleaner sky than most places. The environment is dry and, therefore, has less water vapor.
This is only, maybe, half of the monitors this fellow in the control room was monitoring. The tour guide talked some and then this man answered questions. The super-computer is behind the glass wall in the background to the right.
Here is the transporter that moves the antennas around.
This photo gives a better idea of how wide it is.
All the antennas were assembled in this building. Now they are repaired here. It reminded me of the similar building at the Kennedy Space Center.
I was pretty sure Roy was coveting that big orange transporter. Then he looked at this and said, “That’s just like mine”. The man has toys.
We stopped in Pie Town on the way home to look at this antenna that is part of the VLBA (Very Long Baseline Array) telescope.
Wow! What a field trip.
Later in the day, Roy announced that the weed whackers were working. I went to see what he was talking about. This area is an open range, meaning livestock wander about at will.