Monday, October 10, 2011

Green Bank, West Virginia: Science Center

You may have heard of the radio telescope here, but it's tough to imagine the area until you visit. The telescope checks in at 17 million pounds, making it the largest object on earth that can move. It is visible from some distance away when driving in from the north.

The complex has a few historical devices used in astronomy elsewhere on the grounds. There are also dorms there as well as a visitors' center. By the way, the federal government has set up a "quiet zone" around the complex, which limits electronic communication in that area (cell phones, television and radio signals, etc.).

A few tips:

1. The best spot to get a picture of the big telescope is from the visitors' center, but the glass will get in the way. Go outside, and trees block the view. Speaking of cameras, digital cameras are not allowed near the main telescope. They might ruin some data.

2. The facility is open daily during the summer and Thursday through Monday in the other seasons. Make sure you try to go when the place is fully open. We arrived on a Wednesday and missed the tour. Darn -- and it's not as if Green Bank is right off the main road. Visitors can walk around the grounds, at least, so it's still worth a stop.

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