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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Very Large Array

One of the high points of our New Mexico road trip was a stop at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, otherwise known as The Very Large Array.

The Very Large Array, one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The data from the antennas is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36km (22 miles) across, with the sensitivity of a dish 130 meters (422 feet) in diameter.  Whoever named this was not kidding.  Also, it's no accident that it is located truly in the middle of nowhere.

The VLA offers a self-guided walking tour that gets you fairly close to at least one of the 82' diameter antennas.  We were particularly lucky I think in that not only did we have really nice late afternoon light, but the antennas were configured fairly close together, and we even got to see them move in sync from one direction to another.  Even in the close configuration I had a tough time trying to get all of the antennas into one image.  At their widest configuration, which produces a diameter of just over 22 miles, it would have been almost impossible.

In addition to the 27 active antennas, they do keep a spare so that they can rotate them out for maintenance and not have to shut the facility down.

The Very Large Array is definitely worth the drive to see.  If you would like to know more about the VLA, they have a great video narrated by Jodie Foster.

Click here to see a few more images from the Very Large Array.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.