Saturday, October 15, 2011

Renaming the VLA

Today the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) announced that they would be renaming the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico. Due to significant changes to the fundamental sensors that make up the telescope they felt that they should rename it since they essentially have a different instrument. Originally they were just going name it the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) but I assume that as a good PR move, and a way to say to normal people "Hey! We exist!", they decided to open up the renaming process to the public, which means you (yes you) can participate and submit your own idea for what it should be called.

How can you participate in this wonderful "Let's get the general public interested in radio astronomy" opportunity? Well if you follow this link you can find where to go to submit your own name, and perhaps they may just consider it. I know that I will be submitting one or two possible names. They have to be in by December 1st, and they will announce the result at the AAS (American Astronomical Society) meeting in January.

As a side note: In reading a news story on the BBC about this announcement I found this paragraph quite funny,
"The astronomy community has a long history of descriptive yet fairly unimaginative names - including the VLA itself, the Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the yet-to-be-built European Extremely Large Telescope (the design for which was chosen over the alternative Overwhelmingly Large Telescope)."

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