Trip Planner:   USA  /  New Mexico  /  Very Large Array

Very Large Array, New Mexico

#111 of 1,010 in Things to do in New Mexico
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) is a centimeter-wavelength radio astronomy observatory located in central New Mexico on the Plains of San Agustin, between the towns of Magdalena and Datil, ~50 miles (80 km) west of Socorro. The VLA comprises twenty-eight 25-meter radio telescopes (27 of which are operational while one is always rotating through maintenance) deployed in a Y-shaped array and all the equipment, instrumentation, and computing power to function as an interferometer. Each of the massive telescopes is mounted on double parallel railroad tracks, so the radius and density of the array can be transformed to adjust the balance between its angular resolution and its surface brightness sensitivity. Astronomers using the VLA have made key observations of black holes and protoplanetary disks around young stars, discovered magnetic filaments and traced complex gas motions at the Milky Way's center, probed the Universe's cosmological parameters, and provided new knowledge about the physical mechanisms that produce radio emission.

The VLA stands at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m) above sea level. It is a component of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
Arrange to visit Very Large Array and other attractions in Magdalena using our Magdalena holiday planning tool.
Create an itinerary including Very Large Array
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

Very Large Array Reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
301 reviews
  • Definitely worth going to the Visitor Centre and doing a self-guided tour. Inexpensive and lets you get up close to the telescopes, which are amazing engineering, as well as giving you an overview of....  more »
  • We have visited Telescopes all around Arizona but had never been to a Radio Astronomy Observatory, so we planned a trip to the VLA Observatory near Socorro, New Mexico. The best time to go is on a...  more »
  • Interesting find in the middle of nowhere. Not much to see. A small and interesting museum. A few pics from the movie "Contact." You can walk around some of the site and see the telescopes.
  • Extremely interesting. Nobody was touring when I was there. Got to talk to some staff. Super technology and in a grand scale. If your interested in the cosmos, or technology, it's worth the side trip.

Plan your trip to Magdalena

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Popular things to do in Magdalena

Duration: 4 hours
Duration: 2 hours

Side trips from Magdalena

Duration: 2 hours
Duration: 2 hours
Duration: 2 hours