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The 130 foot dish at OVRO. 50 years old this year. 
Photo: Gigi de Jong

“Light takes time to reach Earth’s observatories from the depths of space, and so you see objects and phenomena not as they are but as they once were. That means the universe acts like a giant time machine: the farther away you look, the further back in time you see—back almost to the beginning of time itself. Within that horizon of reckoning, cosmic evolution unfolds continuously, in full view.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist.

Intro

It’s called “The Big Ears” and it’s picking up naturally occurring signals from outer space. The Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) has a variety of antennas which are collecting these signals. Just as optical telescopes collect visible light waves, bring them into focus, amplify them and make them available for analysis, radio telescopes collect weak radio light waves, bring them into focus, amplify them and make them available for analysis.

OVRO is a research facility of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). It was brought into operation in 1958 with one 32-ft radio telescope, which was built at the Caltech’s Palomar Observatory and relocated at the newly established OVRO. By early 1959, the first of two 90-foot antennas was operational and soon thereafter the second was listening to outer space.

90 footers. Then.

“The two 90-foot antennas of the radio interferometer at Owens Valley, shown here after the completion of the dishes in 1959, formed one of the largest and most sensitive radio telescopes in the world. Each dish alone was larger than any in the United States at that time.” ~ The Owens Valley Radio Observatory: Early Years by Marshall H. Cohen.

90 footers. Now.

In 1968 a 130-foot dish became operational at OVRO, which was originally intended to form part of an array of eight 130-foot dishes. But by the time the first dish was built, the National Science Foundation diverted funding to build twenty-seven 85-foot dishes in New Mexico. Nevertheless, the 130-foot dish at OVRO has produced valuable scientific results as a single dish as well as when it was paired with other radio telescopes around the world.

What Makes It Great

2018 marks 60 years of observation at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. Little remains of that first 32-foot telescope, but the big dishes and numerous other telescopes, antennas, and arrays have expanded the reach and capacity of the facility. The scope of operation is extensive and world-class. OVRO now has the capability to ‘listen’ and analyze data using multiple different types of radio telescope technologies.

Looking to the sky. 130 foot dish.

The 130-foot telescope is still a vital instrument in radio astronomy 50 years after it was built. It is being used in conjunction with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to monitor nearly 1200 blazars every two days – from right here in the Owens Valley.

The Long Wavelength Array (LWA) situated at OVRO is a low frequency interferometer that is working in conjunction with another LWA in New Mexico. Together these arrays are studying ‘The Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn.” The Owens Valley LWA is currently the most powerful radio telescope in the world, which operates below 100MHz.

Another array, the Owens Valley Solar Array (OVSA), is one of the largest solar radio observatories in the United States. This project is a world-class facility for solar research at radio frequencies from 1-18 GHz. This is an area of national importance as scientists begin to understand the Sun’s influence on the Earth and near-Earth space environment – a subject broadly termed Space Weather.

The Deep Synoptic Array, which consists of ten fixed-position 15-foot dishes, is searching the sky for very short, powerful radio bursts called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). FRBs are enigmatic – we don’t know what causes them, how far away they are or even where they come from. Data from Deep Synoptic Array will allow astronomers to pinpoint the source of a FRB and help them figure out what creates them.

In what one of the astronomers calls ”the most technically challenging project we have ever done,” the CO Mapping Array Pathfinder (COMAP) uses a 34-foot dish to collect data to learn about galaxy formation in the early Universe. Further development of this project may see another four 10-meter dishes added for phase-2 of this study.

Who Is Going to Love It

This is a truly awesome facility to visit for aspiring and current scientists, astronomers, and anyone who has a keen interest in learning about our world – especially our extra-terrestrial world. A visitor could really ‘geek out’ at OVRO.

The beauty of this facility will not be lost on the less scientific and more artistic members of a family or school group. The location is incredibly beautiful with the majestic mountainous background on either side of these technological marvels. While much of the scientific data may be beyond the comprehension of most visitors, it is not hard to see how science and art are in perfect harmony out here in the high desert of the Owens Valley.

Looking south from the catwalk of the 130 foot dish.

The Season

The Owens Valley Radio Observatory is operational year-round, and the facility offers free public tours on the first Monday of every month – unless it is a holiday, then the tour is on the second Monday. Tours begin at 1pm and last about an hour. Reservations are not required. Tours for school groups and large parties can be prearranged for other times by contacting OVRO at (760) 358-6410.

The pulleys inside 130 foot dish used to change the angle of the dish.

A series of public lectures is also offered by the researchers and educators in astronomy and astrophysics from OVRO. Lectures are held once a month from August to December and are geared towards any member of the community with an interest in the sciences. The lectures are presented at the Bishop campus of the Cerro Coso Community College.

“All that’s required is an inquisitive mind!” ~ OVRO

Original computers still in place, but now it runs through modern computers and programs.

Directions. Parking. Regulations.

Located southeast of Bishop, the Owens Valley Radio Observatory is 6 miles from the town of Big Pine. To get there, take US Highway 395 to just north of Big Pine and turn East onto State Route 168. Travel for 2½ miles then turn left onto Leighton Lane and go about 4 miles and through the gate. After a sharp left turn go about 100 yards and turn right on Robbie Road towards buildings #12 & #13. Tours start inside building #12 at the east end of the observatory. Detailed directions and maps are available here.

For the geeks in the group the coordinates for OVRO are 37:14:02N latitude, 118:16:56W longitude at 1222 meters above sea level.

 

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11 hours ago

Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
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Are you spending your Sunday relaxing, doing something you love, or sharing it with someone special? Wishing you a beautiful day!
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

So love bishop My late husband spent every holiday except Christmas there with our motorhome So many wonderful memories

Love the beautiful starry skies..

I'm spending my day wishing I was there. It's good to have goals! 🥰

My retirement goal!

Love it up there

Oh gosh I have so many wonderful memories of sitting by a lake or creek or river up in Bishop. ❤️

Yep. My bride of 42 years & I just returned from a week’s long visit to Bishop. We can’t wait to go back!

I lived there for 14 years. One of my boys was born there. Truly miss the Eastern Sierra. Bishop was special and still is.

Just got home from spending 4 absolutely grand days there!! Loved every minute looking forward to the next trip!

I want to go back and visit

Mt. Goode from Long Lake

Marlena Leister

when ever I drive thru Bishop I know I'm getting close to home and when I stop in Bishop it's usually to rest for a day and relax.

Paradise

Cesar Sanchez

No but some day maybe

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1 day ago

Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
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Checking the view from one of our favorite trees. Yup, another beautiful day in Bishop 😍.
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

That tree in the fall is one of my favorite spots

Beautiful.oak tree!!!!!

It’s a great place to visit

It is beautiful 🤩

I forgot, when does it start cooling off up there? Is it September or October? I want to visit (when I can), but I'd prefer in one of the cooler, mild seasons (like Fall or Spring).

Was just there !!

California

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2 days ago

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, here's a little history about them:Motorists traveling on El Camino Sierra about 14 miles south of Olancha, have probably noticed the ruins of a few dilapidated rock buildings with accompanying other small structures and mobile homes on the west side of the highway. This would be Dunmovin. First known as Cowan's Station, it served as a way station for the Cerro Gordo feight wagons, a supply center for nearby mines, a work camp for LADWP construction workers and finally as a gas station, garage, motel and cafe for travelers on El Camino Sierra. When Charles and Hilda King purchased the property in 1936, Hilda was relieved to finally be "settled down" and renamed the property as Dunmovin...according to this little poem credited to Hilda. "We’ve moved from yon to hither Now we’re set and provin In all the world we are perhaps The only folks dunmovin" Like many such establishments, fuel efficient and more reliable cars spelled the end of Dunmovin. It closed for good in the early 1970s...and now stands as a sentimental reminder of times gone by along El Camino Sierra. Thank you for following us on Facebook if you enjoy our posts, and for sharing them with others you think may enjoy them. We sincerely appreciate it! ... See MoreSee Less

How many of you are familiar with these old buildings south of Olancha? Well, heres a little history about them:

 

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Me, driving to a Bishop, many times. Also Crystal Springs Water, too!,

Wow I never knew this existed. Going to have to check this out on my next visit. Thanks for the new adventure.

Great place to visit

At the top of the Dunmovin grade is the turnoff to Haiwee Power Plant. I worked there for a year from the summer of '78. The Espee spur line from Mojave to Lone Pine was still in operation with weekly (?) peddler freights headed to town. The China Lake Weapons Center conducted aerial operations all up and down the Paniment and Owens Valleys including strafing runs over the dam. Loved that year. I'll never forget it

Great info!

Love the history! We always chuckled at the name of Dunmovin but didn’t know the history.

Can't swear to it, but I think I remember passing those as a kid in the 50s, maybe 60s, and they were occupied?

My parents use to be friends with some people who lived there/owned it. Cant remember his name, but I believe he was a Lawyer...

HAHA--I TOLD you Tim Alls!!! ;0 LOL

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2 days ago

Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek.
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
#visitbishop
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Nature is incredible... Photo of Norman Clyde Peak and Glacier (or what’s left of it) reflected in a small tarn at 11,600ft elevation in the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. 
Thanks @deserth2o for the photo!!
#visitbishop

 

Comment on Facebook

Always beautiful scenery

Awesome 😎

,BEAUTIFUL AREA

We used to live there. We could look out our window and see it every day

Home Sweet Home

Beautiful

Been there when glacier filled this valley in late summer and fall. Sad to see them melt away

Great picture. Norman Clyde was one incredible men of history. Had an interesting life. Wonder if his story is being told in schools today? One case where truth is much better than fiction. <3

Ryan Johnson

Cesar Sanchez

Jana Weaver

Niki Hansen-Daniel

Next time? Jorge Vargas

California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_snow

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4 days ago

This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!!
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This is the view from the top of Mt. Tom, in case you have ever wondered what it’s like up there. Many of us love this majestic mountain, but will never see the summit in person. @tarahhnasaurus is a single mom who is achieving her goals and inspiring us. Thank you for the photo!!! 
#visitbishop

 

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Full value, great day.

Congrats Lady!

Always wanted to climb Mt.Tom! Closest I came was living on Mt. Tom Rd!

Outstanding !!!!!!

Great view from up there.

Yes! Thanks for sharing.

Amazing!

Thanks for sharing!! Hiked up to Horton lakes about 40 years ago wanted to keep going, but my buddy’s didn’t

Beautiful but way to High for me😳☺ I don't do high things that well☺

Nice😎

Doug Foley and I climbed Tom back in the 80's. My Ma used to live in Rovana.

thanks for posting this beautiful picture...I don't think I have ever seen a picture from the top of Mt. Tom Kudos to you !

I have been there (as well as on top of Humphreys) and I can attest, the view is sublime! The rock skiing to get down is quite entertaining as well!

I want to go there

Mt Tom was the first summit I did as a teen. Until I climbed it I imagined that I'd look down onto Fresno. I was really surprised to see so many more mountains on the other side.

My oldest maternal cousin met his fate on the flanks of Mt. Tom.

Climbed to the top with Skye and Scotty on Dara’s 50th BD! It was awesome! What a view!

Rachael Nicole Banton this is the peak we see when we hike George like

Single mom, with many "friends " to take her places

Way to go lady!!! You ROCK!! 👍

Any rock climbing with that? Lol! I'd like to try it if it's non-technical. Some boulder scrambling is expected but I'd have to train to readjust to that altitude.

Wow

Matt Cunningham

Cody

💪💪 Appears taller than Ragged Mountain in Penobscot County, Maine.

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