Some 50 miles west of Socorro, beyond Magdalena and on the Plains of San Agustin, US-60 passes through the Very Large Array (VLA). A radio astronomy observatory located at an elevation of 6,970 ft.
It has 27 antennae with each 82 ft diameter dish positioned on three arms of a Y shaped rail track; each arm being 13 miles long. Used to investigate many astronomical objects, like galaxies, quasars, pulsars, supernova remnants, gamma ray bursts, radio-emitting stars, the sun and planets, astrophysical masers, black holes, and the Milky Way.
On the first Saturday of each month there is a guided tour of the facilities. Of course, my trip past was not then. But, I stopped to take photos and later read up on the VLA.
Further south, along NM-26 east of Deming, can be found the Macho Springs Wind Farm. 28 modern windmills spread out on 2,000 acres of ranch land. The 120 meter tall towers, with 100 meter diameter blades produce 50 megawatts of electricity which sells for half the price of coal powered plants. Wind generated power potentially could provide for all of New Mexico’s needs.
Nearby the wind farm is the Macho Springs Solar Farm that also produces 50 megawatts of electricity. I couldn’t find it though. Interestingly, it appears most of the power is being sold to Tucson and El Paso. So much for helping New Mexico’s energy needs (highest bidder you know).
Sites: Very Large Array, Macho Springs Wind & Solar Farms
Scene: Mountains, desert, windmills, telescopes