When we arrived in Murrieta, California it was comfortably warm with cool nights. Two weeks later, our last days were cold with high winds, heavy rain, and an impressive hail storm - time to move on. We left our home in the hills February 28 for a week-long road trip to Fort Worth, Texas. We had overnight stays in Yuma and Tucson, Arizona. On March 2 we arrived in Socorro, New Mexico for 2 nights. Why Socorro? We are here to see Very Large Array in the San Agustin Plains high desert an hour away.
Very Large Array (run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory) – VLA is a powerful radio telescope that observes the universe night and day. There are 27-100-ton dish antennas working together as a single telescope system. Each dish is 82 feet in diameter and 230 tons. They can be moved along rails in a Y-shaped configuration with a maximum span of 22 miles. The visitor center does a great job of explaining what is done here, and you can get an up-close look at one of the dish antenna. We were here while the dishes were the most spread out, so the overall affect is less impressive than when they are all bunched together, but we were able to see them rotate to a different point in the sky during our visit. This formation will last for 4 months before changing to a different one. Here’s a link to their informative website, and if you are traveling through New Mexico, make it a point to stop here. You don’t have to know a thing about this prior to your visit, and I guarantee you will leave here agreeing with Carl Sagan’s above quote.
We visited a night sky viewing at New Mexico Tech’s Etscorn Observatory. While we don’t have photos, stars upon stars filled the night sky.
San Miguel Mission is located in the town of Socorro. Founded over 400 years ago, it is one of the oldest Catholic Church’s in the United States.
Thank you for joining our journey,