At first glance – you see this picture of my (lovely if I do say so myself) Tiger and think Okay, it another picture of her (lovely if you do say so yourself) Tiger. But look closer, my darling.
That is the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory across the valley. It kind of looks like it just fell out of space into that bucolic setting, doesn’t it?
Apparently it is the largest of its kind. It spans 100 meters across the dish.
Now, if you’re metrically challenged – like me – you have no idea what that means. But, thanks to the little elves that tirelessly work inside my computer, I can break it down for you. That’s 328 feet across. Or in layman’s terms: f’n huge.
I’ve seen the telescope a couple times before when coming across WV66. Even so, there is a sense of amazement each time. On the approach out of the mountains I am immediately reminded of the movie Contact with Jodie Foster, specifically that first moment that you get a glimpse of the machine that was built. Not because the telescope looks like it but because it gives that same strange juxtaposition of something tremendous and inherently man made in a pristine natural setting where it seems that it doesn’t belong.
It is one part startling, one part fascinating, one part beautiful, one part curious. And one part unsettling. Okay, that may be a couple parts too many but we’ve already established that I’m not so good with the maths.
It’s just beautiful.