The Very Large Array in New Mexico was only a few hour's drive from where I live in Texas, so I was looking forward to heading over for a look. I finally had the chance during spring 2010, when I went on a camping trip around southern New Mexico. Unfortuneately the visit was quite a disappointment. Visitor's information and facilities were very poor and there was no-one there to talk to. It was one of the worst I have seen. Most of the information refered to Jodie Foster being there for the filming of "Contact". it would have been better if there was more information about the observatory and the work conducted there.
I was also disappointed at the lack of student facilities. Probably I was spoilt are being at Greenbank. They do however make available the VLA itself for students for research projects which is great for upper-division students and astronomy majors.
Approaching the VLA.
Near the VLA, the telescopes stand out from the surrounding plain like slient sentinals.
The enterance to the VLA.
The VLA consists of 27 dishes, each 25m across.
The telescopes are strung out along 3 "arms" in a "Y" configuration that can reach for up to 36km.
The telescope configuration can be changed by moving the telescope dishes along rail lines.
The "Jodie Foster" telescope.