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Very Large Array, Magdalena

4.6
#126 of 1,000 in Things to do in New Mexico
Landmark · Tourist Spot
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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 (twenty-seven 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 6,970 feet (2,120 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.

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Very Large Array reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
305 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Closed due to Covid-19, it was still nice to see it only from outside. Made me want to come back to see the whole thing, tour and all, when it is allowed to fully re-open. You can camp in the... 
    Closed due to Covid-19, it was still nice to see it only from outside. Made me want to come back to see the whole thing, tour and all, when it is allowed to fully re-open. You can camp in the...  more »
Google
  • The VLA is an absolutely amazing sight to come upon! An array of 82 foot diameter dishes in the desert appear after passing through the mountains. About 50 miles west of Socorro. This radio telescope has made some incredible discoveries. Check out Water Canyon also. Beautiful place!
  • Visited in 2009. It's a great place away from everything. It has to be to listen to the stars with no air or military travel or other electronic interference around. A true feast for the eyes. I had a great time!

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