January 6, 2020
Off the radar until our very last overnight stay in a motel in Socorro, we glimpsed an attraction that made us stand up and take notice. About an hour out of our way to the west was the installation of a radio telescope array of 27 dish antennas in an interconnected Y-shape which sends signals back to Earth from deep space. The information is gathered and then sent to the Etscorn Observatory on the campus of NM Tech in Socorro for interpretation by astronomers from around the world. What we know about new galaxies, black holes, and other mysteries of deep space have been gleaned through a handful of installations of this type throughout the US. The VLA (Very Large Array) is in the middle of the desert far away from civilization in a bowl surrounded by a mountain range. It is an ideal location because it is dry (moisture can negatively affect the reception); there are no competing human electronic waves to interfere with reception; and the mountain “bowl” cuts off ambient distracting waves allowing the dishes to zero in on deep-space radio waves.
Lou and Bonnie Janelle (LBJ) are career professionals who are currently pursuing life-long interests in photography and digital imaging techniques, respectively.