As a child I remember skimming through science magazines in my Jr. High classroom and seeing photos of larger than life satellite dishes that magically peered into the heavens. In 1997 the movie Contact was released. Jodie worked at a facility called the Very Large Array (VLA). More recently, the movie Superman Man of Steel ended with a humorous scene at the VLA. When I realized that we’d be passing through Socorro, NM on a family trip I knew we had to put the VLA on our agenda. I do have to admit, it’s in the middle of nowhere; and for good reason. We planned on spending about 1 hour at the facility but were surprised when we met engineers and scientists who took time to answer even our most detailed questions (your mileage may vary). We were there for over 3 hours. It was unexpectedly more fun for the entire family although the youngest did get a bit bored near the end.
If you visit, just remember… NO ELECTRONICS. And yes, they’re serious. Also, the video showing the dishes moving was drastically sped up. The kids loved chasing the large jack rabbits around the visitor’s center.
Their website: http://www.vla.nrao.edu/