Oct 29, 2017

Very Large Array, New Mexico

Very Large Array is one of the worlds largest Astronomical Observatories and it has been featured in movies like Independence Day, Contact and Terminator Salvation. After our half day tour in Albuquerque, we headed towards VLA, a two hour drive into the most deserted part of New Mexico. It is about 50 miles west of Socorro. After the populated town of Socorro the only one lone town that you would pass by would be Magdalena. One important detail which I must mention is the lack of data reception within a couple miles of VLA.

Just before we reached the centre, we passed by the antennae. This is what it looked like. Tiny toy saucers.

The first thing that we did was to watch the 20 min by Jodie Foster that provided an idea of what we were there for in the first place.. Radio Astronomy, Interferometry and VLA. The VLA has 27 dish shaped antennas that are connected together to form a single radio telescope. They use this to study cosmic objects from the sun, planets, solar galaxies in our universe. Each antennae collect radio waves emitted by cosmic objects and send them to a central location where they are combined. By using many antennas the VLA can make detailed pictures of cosmic objects. It is one of the most powerful radio telescopes of the world.

We explored the exhibits before we made our way to the outdoor exhibits. We learned about Cosmic jets spewed by Giant galaxies, Microquasars in our galaxy, the first Einstein ring Gravitational lens and Gamma rays. There were informational texts on Water Ice on Mercury, Mystery centre of our galaxy and our neighboring stars.

VLA has walking tours that would surely provide in depth knowledge. They are usually held on the first Saturdays of each month. First Saturday tours in April and October are free Open house events. If your going these would be the best days to go. You can check more on the VLA Website. 2017 has 2 days November 4th and December 2nd if you wish to go. 

The Radio Sundial:

On the way to the 230 ton working antennae on the array.

Why is the VLA out there?

Look how tiny we are here in front of this massive structure:)

Why is the VLA so very Large?

What is inside the VLA?

 What happens inside the building?

Why do we need a supercomputer?

My kiddo checking out the telescope below. 

View on our way out. We headed towards the control building where we climbed up to the observation deck for a birds eye view and to learn about the super computer processing processing that was taking place in the control building.

We hope you enjoyed reading our experiences on this amazing New Mexico journey. Our next trip we headed to Mexico for some sun, fun, blue skies and clear waters of the Caribbean. Till we meet again.

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