Funny you should mention radio telescopes; for maybe 20 years or so, I had the good fortune to travel to Greenbank, West Virginia to deliver new Chevrolets to a small Chevy dealer there. Green Bank as you may know, is the main home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. I have visited the Observatory many times over the years, usually in my car when my children were small, a few times on my motorcycle, and even a few times with a 75 ft car carrier !
When we first started going there, they had the worlds largest steerable "dish", a 300 ft "transit" scope, steerable on one axis. The thing was humongus ! Imagine my surprise, ( and sorrow ), when on a subsequent visit in 1989, i found out that at 9:43 PM
, 15 Nov. 1988, the huge dish antenna had collapsed into a huge pile of twisted wreckage !
For many years they also had the world's largest equatorial mounted antenna, which was I believe about 40 ft in dia. It was a very "impressive" thing to see. ( Mainly because I have owned a few equatorial telescope mounts, and I know how they work; this thing was one absolutely gigantic equatorial mount, with a huge concrete base. I'm not sure, but I think it may be gone now.
Then, on a trip to deliver a new corvette in about 1995 or so, I was amazed to learn that the construction I could see from the road, was in fact the beginning construction of the present world's largest fully steerable, single aperture dish antenna, which on completion was named in honor of the late Senator Robert Bird. On another trip a year later, it had been completed, and was in operation when I visited the observatory. The dish is 43 meters, ( 140 feet ), and believe me, it is HUGE ! It even looks bigger than the big transit scope, simply because the big 300 ft scope had so much less "structure", being steerable only on one axis. The new one is not only huge is diameter, it is also very high. To see all those many tons of steel rotate on it's base, while the huge dish is moving on it's axis is.........mind boggling ?
Just driving to Green Bank, West Virginia is a treat ! It's located in the far eastern part of W.Va. in an area surrounded by high hills, and is a place were very little line-of-sight radio frequencies are able to get to. ( Be advised, you won't need your cell phone in Green Bank, West Virginia ! ) They also have the original Jansky Antenna, which is the world's first radio telescope, built by the late, great Carl Jansky. ( Pretty funny looking contraption, but I suppose you have to start somewhere ! )
I think if I were to suggest to anyone contemplating a trip to West Virginia that they go visit Green Bank, I would also suggest that they first read a book or two about radio astronomy; I'm sure you understand why I say that; when I first visited Green Bank with my fiance', like most people, (unfamiliar with radio astronomy), she looked at the thing and was very quiet for a time, trying to figure out what it was "doing" ! I told her..........look at the radio antenna on you car, and tell me what it's "doing" ! Lol ! About the same thing, but on a much larger scale ! I've read a fair amount about RA
, and I must confess, it still amazes me also !
Now that I have finally gotten around to replacing my Nikon film camera with a decent D SLR, I'm looking forward to my next trip to beautiful West Virginia to take some pictures of the "big dish".'
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein