VNF/VLA (Very Nice Film on the Very Large Array)

The VLA by Sean Bonner (flickr creative commons)

The VLA by Sean Bonner (flickr creative commons)

I love the scene in 2010 (the far less ambitious but much more watchable sequel to 2001) where the Russian space apparatchik convinces Dr. Heywood Floyd to join the Alexi Leonov on its mission to Jupiter. (It’s a great film, real science fiction and very much a film of its moment, when the Cold War was reaching a point of lunatic brinksmanship.) That scene took place at the Very Large Array in New Mexico, and that’s probably how I first became aware of the US’s great radio telescope array.

The VLA probably entered most reader’s consciousness through the film Contact, which has Jodie Foster’s Ellie Arroway receiving an extraterrestrial signal from the star Vega at the VLA.

Jodie Foster narrates this new video about the VLA, made to be an interpretive film for visitors. It’s a great film that only mentions SETI in its choice of narrator, focusing rather on the day to day science the VLA does and the technical feats required to run such a large radio interferometer. Good stuff, including some wonderful examples from the recent renaissance of time-lapse astrophotography.

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One thought on “VNF/VLA (Very Nice Film on the Very Large Array)

  1. Wonderful film! I first saw the VLA from a commercial aircraft that was descending through clouds, back around 1990 and we broke out to see a range of mountains, and then this big “Y” in the desert below with white dots on each leg of the “Y”. I was stunned, wondering what it was. I can’t remember now whether or not I realized at that moment that it was the VLA, but it was an absolutely stunning sight, seen that way.

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