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Archive for December 23, 2018

2018—Close Encounters?

A visit to New Mexico is not complete without  a visit to the Very Large Array (VLA), locted about an hour’s drive from Socorro in area of high desert surrounded by mountains.  The VLA is a scientifically productive ground-based radio telescope.   Radio images enable astronomers to see things invisible to optical telescopes.  The VLA has been featured in a number of sci-fi movies including Contact, Independence Day, 2010 Odyssey, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  It consists of 27 dish antennas each 82 feet in diameter.  The antennas themselves are moved along a series of tracks into one of four Y-shaped configuations, the largest spanning 22 miles, the smallest less than half a mile.  While we were there, the configuration was a little over two miles so we were able to see most of the antennas.

Here is one of the three arms of the array, with 8 of the 27 dishes visible.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF lens.

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