The Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico is a complex of 27 huge radio telescopes that can be moved around to create a pseudo antenna of up to 20 miles or more across – but by amazing luck, on our visit all the antennas were clustered together, giving excellent views! Rail tracks extend from the center out on three axes, and a machine can pick up and move the antennas as needed. Once in place all the antennas can be rotated together to point to a particular part of the sky (and we luckily saw them rotating too!)
From the road, and the sign to VLA, there’s still 50 miles to go (it’s a long way from anywhere, to minimize radio pick-up from towns, etc); located where it’s flat – perfect for a radio telescope array!
It’s hard to tell in the pictures above. just how many antennas there are – some are lined up along one of the rail track axes. It’s also hard to tell just how big everything is; but these pics might help:
While we were walking around the tour, all the antennas rotated – very cool! You can see “before” and “after” in the last two pictures …
An epic day!