Very Large Array
Plain of San Agustin, New Mexico
September 2005


The Very Large Array is a huge array of radio telescopes situated on a lonely high plain in western New Mexico, about a two-hour drive west of the city of Socorro. The telescopes ride along tracks laid out in a triangular shape. They work in unison, acting as essentially one gigantic telescope. They can be spread out or placed close together, depending on how large an area of the universe they wish to explore.

Beth and I have driven through the region a couple of times, stopping once to tour the grounds and the basic visitor's center and displays set up. You can take a self-guided tour of the main central area. We were amused by the "garage/hangar" housing one telescope in for repairs. The building itself stood about 10 stories high. The actual telescopes are laid out, the rail tracks stretching for a number of miles, so it's not practical to walk along one to see them all. As they say, once you've seen one radio telescope, you've seen them all.

The Plain of San Agustin is actually a large basin that in wetter climes would be a huge lake. These days it's a big desert-like plain, a perfect place for this sort of facility. It has been the site of many famous movies, including Contact and 2010, the sequel to 2001, which seems kind of quaint now that it is 2010 as I type this. If you have science-nerd mitochondria in you, this is a neat place to stop in.

Photos (Click to Enlarge)

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(c) 2010 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.