Sun Dogs at the Very Large Array


November, 1986

On the Plains of San Agustin in western New Mexico, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory operates the Very Large Array, one of the world's foremost radio telescopes. Twenty-seven 25-meter diameter dishes comprise the antenna array. The dishes shown here are along one of three 13-mile-long legs that form the Y-shaped array. These immense dishes are moved to various positions along the railroad tracks in the foreground.

During this visit on an afternoon with thin, high clouds, I witnessed the most impressive display of atmospheric halos I have ever seen. Visible in this photo are two "sun dogs," or parhelia, like miniature rainbows on either side of the sun. A brilliant "sun pillar" seems to extend upward and downward from the sun itself. These were only part of an incredibly complex pattern of arcs and rings that covered half the sky -- a "very large array" indeed!

This photograph was published in the January 1992 issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine.

This photograph also appeared on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site on August 23, 1999.

This photograph was also published on the back cover of the music CD The Angel Has Landed by the San Francisco band vaportrail in July 2001.

Camera: Canon AE-1 35mm SLR.
Film: Kodak Kodachrome 64 slide.
Lens: 28mm with polarizing filter, unrecorded exposure.

Scanned using a Nikon Coolscan LS-10E 35mm film scanner.

Publishers! A high-resolution version of this image is immediately available. For details click here.

Revised: April 15, 2004
Copyright © 1999 Joe Orman
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