The array’s 27 antennas rose like sentinels from the Plains of San Agustin as we drove eastward along U.S. Highway 60 in New Mexico. Each antenna dish measures 82 feet (25 meters) across, rises 94 feet (29m) high, and weighs 230 tons. Transporters move the antennas along railroad tracks to various configurations — tightly packed for wide-field views and spread out for highest-resolution observations. The array is currently in an intermediate arrangement, which afforded us some great photo opportunities.
Although the VLA represented our only astronomical stop of the day, we continued to explore the artistic creations of the Native Americans who inhabit the region. Tour members had plenty of opportunities to invigorate the economy, and many of us took advantage. We hope the locals appreciated our purchases as much as we enjoyed their hospitality.
Up tomorrow: our final day in the Southwest offers visits to the Sky Village of Acoma and Old Town Albuquerque.
Related blogs:On the road: Annular eclipse trip, May 20, 2012On the road: Annular eclipse trip, May 19, 2012On the road: Annular eclipse trip, May 18, 2012