Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nerdy Tourism

The scale of the Very Large Array in New Mexico is impossible to describe. Twenty-seven radio satellite dishes arranged in a Y shape in the middle of nowhere to escape the distracting electronic noise of modern civilization. Each of those dishes is 82 feet in diameter and weighs 230 tons. This was snapped from about a mile away.

On the walking tour. The VLA is located in the high desert, about fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. At nearly 7000 feet in altitude, the sun is very intense. Those shiny orbs mounted on obelisks are a fancy sun dial.

More walking...

Closer to the sun dial. Zoom in on the largest orb, I'm reflected in there. Does this count as a selfie?

It's difficult to get all of them in one shot.

But I tried. Several times.

They let you get pretty close to one of them.

As close as I could get and still have the entire telescope in my viewfinder.

Looking straight up at the dish. The fence is about 20 yards from the base. There is a constant sixty hertz buzz going on.

While there are 27 radio telescopes working together listening to the sky at all times, they rotate out for maintenance. The 28th one is here in the shop for a tune-up and upgrades. For scale, take a look at the full size pickup that is parked at the lower left corner of the maintenance building.

This is the contraption they use to move the telescopes. They are situated on railroad tracks and the configuration is changed four times each year. Not your average furniture rearranging feat.

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