Il Very Large Array it is a complex of 27 radio telescopes with an impressive diameter of 25 meters each aimed at the sky. In popular culture they are best known for their appearance in numerous successful science fiction films and for being used by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life) program to "listen" to space in search of intelligent life.
Seen from above, these radio telescopes form a large Y and are certainly a particular destination for those who want to discover a hidden corner of New Mexico and take home an original souvenir photo.
- Where is it and how to get there
- Timetables and tickets
- What to See
- Very Large Array in mass culture
- Where to sleep in the area
Where is it and how to get there
The Very Large Array facility is located approximately 50 minutes drive from the town of Socorro and two hours from Albuquerque. There is no real physical address, if you want to go to this place with the navigator, be careful to enter these coordinates (34 04'43.497N, 107 37'05.819W).
If you don't have time to visit it, some radio telescopes are perfectly visible even walking along the US-60, where there is also a special rest area that will allow you to photograph the structures safely and resume your itinerary immediately afterwards.
Timetables and tickets
The Very Large Array is open from 8:30 am until sunset every day of the week. Admission to the facility costs $ 6 for adults while admission is free for children up to 17 years of age. There is also a gift center which is open from 9:00 to 16:00
In addition to the exhibits that will introduce you to the importance of the Very Large Array radio telescopes, it is possible to take part in various tours of the area.
On the first and third Saturday of each month the staff and volunteers of the VLA make themselves available for guided tours which also include the behind the scenes of the process of collecting information received from radio telescopes. Tours depart at 11am, 00pm and 13pm. To participate, simply arrive 00 minutes before the tour start time at the visitor center. The duration of these tours is approximately 15 minutes. Any changes in timetables and methods can be checked by consulting the official website.
It is also possible to make tours of the area on your own following the indicated route and the indications that they will be able to provide you to the Visitor Center.
What to See
At the Visitor Center there is an educational area where exhibits relevant to the research work that is carried out in this place are exhibited. In a special area you can also watch a documentary that traces the history of the structure narrated by the voice of Jodie Foster.
Obviously the main (and only) attraction are the imposing radio telescopes that with their arrangement contribute to forming a unique panorama. If your itinerary allows it, the best time to visit this area is sunset when the colors created on these large antennas contribute to creating a surreal and fascinating atmosphere.
If you intend to visit the facility you must take care of turn off your cell phones and electronic devices. If you have to take pictures with your mobile phone, you can turn it on in airplane mode, take it and then turn it off immediately afterwards.
The only recommendation is to pay special attention to snakes that in this area unfortunately there is some more chance of encountering on one's path.
Very Large Array in mass culture
As mentioned, the Very Large Array structure has often been used as a location for many science fiction films among the most successful: Contact, Independence Day and Terminator Salvation. The New Jersey singer Bon Jovi he also chose this place as the backdrop for his famous music video Everyday and as the cover of the Bounce album.
Where to sleep in the area
As mentioned, the closest town is that of Socorro which can be taken into consideration as a support point. The closest major city is Albuquerque and you can check the hotel offer in the area by clicking on the link below.
Where to sleep in Albuquerque