Monday, February 6, 2012

Solar flares, mini quasars and the VLA

Almost exactly 60 days ago, in early December, SM and I took a car ride to the VLA (very large array). We were fascinated with the place and thought at the time that the grands would be interested to come back on one of our weekend car trips. See that post here. So this last Saturday, while Mommy worked, we plopped them into the van and headed down south to see what we could see.
Once again the wild life and domestic animal life on the drive down through the farmland south of ABQ was plentiful. We saw all manner of cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses and of course the long horned cows. But this time we were treated with sandhill crane, whopping cranes, Canada geese, mallard ducks, red tailed hawks, fullers hawks, crows by the bazillion and the most spectacular of all was the snow geese. Entire corn fields looked like they had gotten snow when the surrounding fields had no snow at all. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the snow was moving and it was flocks of snow geese. We saw a flight of them as they took wing. It was magnificent. No pronghorn this time but we did see a herd of buffalo. So Mother Nature showed off her handiwork once again.
The grands were very anxious to see what the VLA had to offer as far as information on quarks, pulsars, quazars, and black holes were concerned because we watched several hours of the science channels presentations on those subjects this last week. It was hard to explain to them that the radio telescopes did not let you see the space objects and that just because the name is radio telescope does not mean that you hear anything either. The Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory telescopes is a hard to concept to explain but it is just spectacular to see. 20miles of railroad track one way and 13 miles in another bisecting arm like a giant X.
We drove up to the Visitors Center and this really tall, woman with a sweet smile asked us if we were there for the tour. My mind is racing....tour???? heck yeah we want a tour. Well, it seems that serendipity took old of our life and had us arrive at just the precise moment when the first tour of the day for the first Saturday in the month had begun. Were we lucky ducky's or what????? Because my lovelies, that is the only time that they give a walking tour of the VLA. And I didn't have to explain anything (whew, cuz I didn't know the answers to the questions the grands were asking. I just kept saying, we'll find out.) And by golly, we did.
The grands got to see the equipment that controls and runs the program. We got to me Larry, who is a controller and has been with the project for some 20 years. He knew everything there was to know. The retired teacher, docent who led the tour was so great to answer the kids questions and even made up a special packet of information with websites for the kids to look up what she didn't know. And we got to actually walk up to one of those giants and touch it.

Now for the very best part.....I had my camera this time and took a picture of the tile in the bathroom. Too funny. M150, the fried egg black hole and the VLA telescope, cracks me up.

12 comments:

  1. Yay for serendipitous arrivals, glad you got a fab tour out of it. LOL at the bathroom tiles though :oD

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  2. Oh Linda, how marvelous! You all really hit that at the perfect moment. Dan would call that Buffalo Medicine. (Just going with the flow and not forcing a thing.) ;-) The grands are so blessed to have such a special Oma who wants them to experience all that life has to offer.

    I love those bathroom tiles. That is hilarious and very cool at the same time. Thank you for sharing this fascinating adventure, sweet Linda.

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  3. You continue to amaze me dear friend...I do love those tiles. Your grands will remember this forever! Blessings, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

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  4. What a great road trip, with an excellent and exciting experience for the grands. Lucky kids! Leave it to you to find something hilarious and fun about a bathroom. Would have loved to have seen those snow geese! Another great post from my favorite BB!

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  5. Wonderful! They should have a gift shop and sell replicas of those tiles.

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  6. Now that is great timing and surely answered all the grands questions and most of yours.
    That is something I would have enjoyed.
    Loved the pictues of the tiles.

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  7. Serendipity! Denny and I went chasing all over southern Arizona looking for the huge flocks of sand hill cranes we saw flying overhead and never caught up to them. What a great trip for the kids and for you and SM also! Love the tiles--isn't it great when techies can laugh at themselves?

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  8. This really was a lucky moment in time. WOW!! I bet the grands are still talking about this trip. Too bad Shelley missed it. Love the bath room tiles, someone has a sense of humor. Who says learning can't be fun. xo

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  9. That is so cool! The grands are going to remember that forever.

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  10. Linda, this is so cool! I love this post! I bet seeing those snow geese were fantastic and lucky all of you, to get the tour!! I love the tile! So glad you had your camera ;o) Big Hugs!

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