IMPORTANT: Always call the business before going to take the factory tour. We try and keep our data s up-to-date as possible but you should always check first.
Very Large Array
P.O. Box O,
Socorro, NM 87801
Latitude: 34.078749 Longitude: -107.617728
Email Address: [email protected]
The VLA is located 50 miles west of Socorro on U.S. Highway 60. From U.S. 60, turn South on NM 52, then West on the VLA access road, which is well marked. Signs will point you to the Visitor Center.
What You Will See
The Visitor Center is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to dusk. As you enter, a sign will point you toward the theater, a good place to begin your tour. The 9-minute video presentation was produced in 2002. It provides an understandable overview of radio astronomy, interferometry, and the VLA itself. You will then want to explore our exhibits, to learn more about radio astronomy and the role the Very Large Array and other NRAO telescopes play in current research. A 5-minute silent video will show you how we move antennas. Another video slide show describes the Very Long Baseline Array and how it works. A Small Radio Telescope located just outside the back window tracks the Sun and produces a crude image.
Near the back door you will find a brochure to guide you in the walking tour that will take you past our Whisper Gallery to the base of one of the 230-ton antennas. From there you will climb up to the observation deck for a view of the array itself, as well as a look at the new prototype antenna we are testing for the ALMA project. The walk returns you to the Visitor Center where you are welcome to browse through our gift shop to take home some souvenirs. The gift shop opens almost every day at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 4:00. If it is closed during your visit you may shop online.
We suggest you make a right-hand turn as you leave the parking lot and head for the tall building, following the AAB (Antenna Assembly Building) Tour signs. As you cross the railroad track there is a parking lot on your left. From there you can view our 28th antenna that is undergoing routine maintenance. You will also (most of the time!) get to see one of the transporters that is used to move the antennas.
You are welcome to take photographs of everything you see, but PLEASE KEEP YOUR CELL PHONE TURNED OFF! (It interferes with our observing)
Twice per year we offer guided tours to the general public. These are timed to coincide with the opening of the Trinity Site. Click here for the date of the next scheduled tour. During the summer, our NRAO students provide tours on selected weekends. The tours are free and no reservations are needed.
For educational groups, we provide guided tours (if available!). We need at least three weeks' notice to arrange a guided tour. If you're thinking about arranging a guided tour, look at our information on bringing your class to the VLA. Give our Education and Public Outreach office a call at (575) 835-7243 to schedule your tour.