When traveling hundreds of miles from one photo opportunity to the next, the landscape photographer never knows what unexpected wonder might suddenly appear over the next horizon.
For example, you innocently drive along through New Mexico, minding you own business, when 27 giant radio telescopes suddenly appear out of nowhere in an isolated valley.
Even with weary eyes that is hard to miss. Each one is 82 feet wide and weighs 230 tons!
The telescopes are moved around on a giant 22 mile wide “Y” along three strait railroad tracks. Individual signals are combined into one ginormous radio telescope. One of the two vehicles that move the antennas around is appropriately called the “High Plains Lifter”.
The first thought that comes to mind when seeing this awesome sight is that is one friggin’ VERY LARGE ARRAY of telescopes.
What could you possibly name such a thing??
When it was built, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) gathered a blue ribbon committee including Nobel Prize winning physicists to name the facility. After months of endless meetings and much contentious debate they creatively decided to name it the Very Large Array (VLA).
The VLA was featured in the 1997 movie Contact with Jodie Foster. A tingle ran up and down my leg knowing I was standing where she had stood. At least, I think it was my leg.