Saturday, October 5, 2013

Got 24 Minutes? The VLA Story

Hey Space Placers!

Set aside 24 minutes in your day to watch a wonderful and informing video about the Very Large Array (VLA) narrated by Academy Award Winning actress Jodie Foster. The VLA is located in an ancient lakebed in New Mexico which is perfect for laying out the VLA. Jodie Foster was the star of the 1997 classic movie "Contact" which was filmed in part at the VLA.

The VLA is an array of 27 radio telescope antennas that are capable of being moved along railroad tracks to form whatever antenna configuration an astronomer needs to get their observations. Because the VLA is a radio telescope it operates 24 hours a day and only needs the object being observed to be above the local horizon.

Radio telescopes make observations that optical telescopes cannot do and represent a powerful window into the Universe. The Universe is filled with radio waves which VLA's radio telescopes capture, enhance and make available in a variety of outputs that astronomers can then analyze.

Because the VLA's radio dishes can be spread out along a 22-mile long baseline or in other configurations it is a very powerful instrument. Here is more info on the VLA - I had to use Wikipedia because all of VLA's websites are down due to the government shut down.

Grab your favorite beverage, find a nice dark room with a comfortable chair and enjoy the show

Sky Guy in VA

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