1. The Observatory lies at the heart of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone.
The National Radio Quiet Zone is a 13,000 sq. miles area established in 1956 by the FCC where all radio transmissions are either limited or banned outright, to help the telescope function properly.The observatory borders the National Forest and is shielded from radio interference by the Allegheny mountains.
This area was chosen because it has a hilly topography that screens out most incoming radio signals, allowing the Green Bank telescopes to receive signals that are otherwise too low in power to be heard over the normal radio background in North America.
To aid in limiting outside interference, the area surrounding the Green Bank observatory was at one time planted with pines characterized by needles of a certain length as to ‘block’ electromagnetic interference at the wavelengths used by the observatory.
2. No electronics whatsoever are allowed inside the gates of the observatory. You can only use disposable cameras. No digital.
These first few pictures were taken with a digital SLR camera a couple miles away from the observatory.
3. The Observatory is home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. It is also the world’s largest land-based movable structure.
The current telescope was built following the collapse of the previous Green Bank telescope. The old telescope collapsed in 1988 due to the sudden loss of a gusset plate.
Radio telescopes are used to study naturally occurring radio emission from stars, galaxies, quasars. The telescope is basically listening to space all the time.
At the observatory you can take a walking tour of the telescopes. You have to promise not use any electronics including digital cameras.
7. This next group of pictures were our disposable camera pictures.
8. You walk down a concrete road towards the giant telescope. The telescopes get increasingly bigger as you go.
FYI, we’re on a road trip to Bonnaroo. See all the stuff we’ve stopped at a long the way here!