Picture of the week

June 18, 2017

Very Large Array radio observatory

Very Large Array radio observatory of New Mexico

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Very Large Array (VLA) of New Mexico.  You may have seen images of this before as featured in some science oriented movies such as Contact, based on one of my favorte books by the late Carl Sagan.

This is the largest such radio observatory in the US.  The location was picked based on the isolation of this high plains area from other civilization, primarily to avoid unwanted spurious radio interference.  It is about 30 miles west of the small, somewhat desolate town of Magdalena, which itself is somewhat facinating for photography.  This array of radio telescopes can by adjusted in their position relative to each other via railroad tracks that span out 9 miles in a "Y" shaped pattern.  This enables a more flexible observation capability, analogous to the focusing of a lens for a better resolving capability based on the field of interest.

More images are shown below, including a few of the town of Magdalena.