Next up was the VLA Radio Telescope located on the vast Plain of Augustin, west of the town of Socorro. VLA stands for Very Large Array and when they named it thusly they spoke the truth. This telescope doesn't capture the visible spectrum of light, it captures radio waves from planets, stars and galaxies. They needed a broad, flat, quiet, plain to set up 27 large telescopes in a Y shape, away from terrestrial radio interference. Using a dedicated rail system and lifter, the telescopes are portable, even though they weigh in at 200 tons each! Each telescope is 25 meters across and really tall. Because they can adjust the spacing between each dish, they can configure arrays from <1 mile across to 22 miles across. Four times a year they change the size of the array using the railroad tracks and specially designed hoists to lift and move the telescopes. The farther they are apart the more detailed the pictures they can produce. It can see 26,000 light-ye
|We need one of these in the RV!|
We met more really great people, including Erica and Gabe in their transformed school bus. They had purchased it in North Carolina, put lots of work into the bus, and are now on their way to the NW. They are doing a great job on the bus and were lots of fun to talk to, as Thayer and I have often discussed the merits of remodeling a school bus.
The next day we met the Polaha family from California with 3 young boys and lots of energy. Turns out that Kris, the dad, is a successful TV actor who has played in quite a few recent TV shows. Since we don't ever watch TV, we didn't recognize him or know anything about the shows. A tad embarrassing to be so out of touch but he thought it was cool that we aren't tied to TV. They had just rented an RV and were on their way to Graceland to celebrate their 7 year old's birthday. They were having quite a steep learning curve in RVing but were doing just fine. We built a fire for 'smores and the next day toured Gila Cliff Dwellings with them.
We had a beautiful sunset and moonrise, though the moon was not as red as we expected during the several days of eclipse.