High Tech

(New Mexico)
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.

Radio telescopes

Very Large Array (VLA)

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.

Rail tracks and telescopes

VLA Rail Track

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.

Windmills in the desert

Macho Springs Wind Farm

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.

Windmill with mountains

Windmill in the Desert

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

8 Responses to High Tech

  1. Barney Ward December 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    FR-549 heads south from Hwy 60, east of the VLA, and has LOTS of great free boondocking areas along it. It even crosses one of the VLA rail tracks.

    • Pleinguy December 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      Thanks for that tip Barney. Next time I’m in the area I’ll check it out. It was early in the morning, and I had just left a free overnight camp in Pie Town. So, I wasn’t looking then.

  2. Martha Federle December 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    How ironic that New Mexico sells the energy to Tucson AZ and El Paso TX. I wonder if the citizens of New Mexico get a break on their energy bills since the power companies are bringing in the money from those other states.

    • Pleinguy December 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      Good question Gypsy. These “farms” are privately owned companies, so I doubt the state is much involved, other than regulation.

  3. Gumo December 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    I enjoy your new website and look forward to your new posts. I’ve kept the link to your former site because it has great reference material. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Pleinguy December 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks for following the journey Gumo. Glad you enjoy the new look. FYI all of the info from the old blog has been moved to this new one. Eventually, the old blog will go away.

  4. Dragonfly December 11, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    Have you seen many antelope? I ask because years ago when I passed the array, antelope seemed to be everywhere and I had never seen them before.

    • Pleinguy December 11, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      I didn’t see any antelope by the VLA. But, I have seen plenty during my travels. My post about Flaming Gorge has pix.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes