P.O. Box O
Socorro, NM 87801
- 50 miles west of Socorro
- 7,000 feet feet
Consisting of 27 radio telescopes linked together, the VLA is one of the most sensitive astronomical observation tools available to modern science. The VLA was built in the middle of the New Mexico desert to minimize outside radio interference, but the facility offers a full visitor's center and guided tours by the operational staff.
Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The data from the antennas is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36km (22 miles) across, with the sensitivity of a dish 130 meters (422 feet) in diameter.
The Visitor Center is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to dusk. A series of informative videos and exhibits introduce the science and technology behind the VLA, and a walking tour will take you to the base of one of the 230-ton antennas. From there you can climb up to the observation deck for a view of the array itself, as well as a look at a new prototype antenna.
Twice a year, a full tour is open to the public. Group tours can be scheduled throughout the year.
Hours + Fees
The Visitor Center has restrooms, water fountains, a soft-drink machine, and soft drinks, bottled water, and candy bars in the gift shop. No other food is available at the VLA site. The nearest restaurants are in Magdalena, about 25 miles to the east, and Datil, about 20 miles to the west. Many restaurants, as well as lodging, are available in Socorro, an hour''s drive from the VLA. Lodging also is available in Magdalena. Montosa RV Park is about 5 miles east of the VLA on Highway 60. Camping is also available in Datil at the Datil Well Campground, and between Magdalena and Socorro at the Water Canyon campground. There are two picnic tables located near the Whisper Gallery at the VLA, and several roadside tables along Highway 60 east of the array. If you are picnicking in your RV, please don''t use your microwave oven as it interferes with our observing.
The VLA is at an elevation of 7,000 feet. At this elevation, the weather can be considerably colder than that at lower elevations. Snow is possible at the VLA from September through May. Check weather reports before your trip. During Fall, Winter and Spring, jackets or coats usually are needed, and warm hats and gloves are advisable during the colder periods.
Feel free to take pictures of whatever you wish, but no cell phones are allowed (it interferes with the observing).