A la vey, I have to admit, I had never been to the VLA until last week. I even work with astronomers and work at a place with a big giant planetarium! I just never seemed to have the time to go.

My good friend is the outreach educator for the NRAO/VLA and invited my daughter and me for a behind the scene tour. Oh. My. God. It was sooooo wonderful and cool and interesting and fun. We got to see how the scopes work and are made. Then we saw how the cryogenic chambers cool down the energy received by the telescope to decrease interference and static. We even saw "mission control" - the place the average tourist doesn't get to see. We saw how the computers navigate the scopes and receive information. The scopes were in the D configuration when we were there.

It's a quick drive out there, so take a day off and go have some fun!

Here are a few pictures that we took.

Telescope in the birdbath position

"D" configuration

Views: 24

Comment by Izquierdo on August 5, 2008 at 4:17pm
I'm glad you could make it to Socorro County. Not one word about Magdalena? Didn't you even stop in for a cup of coffee? The outreach coordinator and PIO from the VLA are indeed very nice people.
Comment by Adelita on August 5, 2008 at 4:51pm
We did stop in Magdalena on the way out for chocolate shakes and cherry cokes.

I work with a scientist here at the museum who is the lead geologist for the Mars Rover Mission. Got lots of real time Mars pictures to look at!! The VLA images are a little further away. As a matter of fact, I'm looking at a gorgeous NRAO poster that was given to me of the Virgo Cluster. Spectacular!
Comment by chantal on August 5, 2008 at 5:11pm
Great road trip, Adelita. My man's family makes nearly an annual trip to the VLA every time they come down to visit us. Cool scene.
Comment by Benny the Icepick on August 5, 2008 at 5:54pm
Quick astronomy note: The Perseid Meteor Shower is coming up! The peak is this coming Monday. Grab a blanket, some snacks, and a few friends, and go out and find a big patch of dark sky. I dragged seven friends along last year in the wee hours of the morning, and saw 30-40 shooting stars in no time at all!
Comment by Bosque Bill on August 5, 2008 at 7:54pm
Did you see Jodie Foster?... oh, sorry, I just couldn't help myself. Thanks for the reminder that an interesting and unique place is not that far away.
Comment by Benny the Icepick on August 5, 2008 at 8:02pm
Speaking of which, I just read Carl Sagan's "Contact" last month. Excellent novel. Pick it up at the Library.
Comment by Adelita on August 5, 2008 at 8:15pm
Sarah, you are absolutely right. Was in that main building - saw all the pining and all the new fiber optics. Really cool

Didn't see Jodie Foster, but my friend's hero is Carl Sagan. How appropriate his words are in these crazy crazy times!
Comment by Benny the Icepick on August 5, 2008 at 8:20pm
Eeeee! Pale Blue Dot is sooooo great. It really turned me on to science again. This soliloquy in particular is amazing, especially when spoken in Sagan's Kermit-the-Frog-ish voice. This is one of my favorite YouTube videos.
Comment by Bosque Bill on August 5, 2008 at 8:21pm
I was actually lucky enough to see Carl Sagan speak at Standford about 15 years ago. He was an interesting person with a wonderful perspective, though he denied he ever said "billions and billions of stars." [wink and grin]
Comment by Adelita on August 5, 2008 at 8:26pm


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