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NRAO’s 2020 Astronomy Highlight with Phil Plait

28 Dec 2020, 20:14 UTC
NRAO’s 2020 Astronomy Highlight with Phil Plait
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It’s been a year of adaptation for everyone. The pandemic has upended many of the ways we function as an organization, from the easy communication gleaned from informal office chats to how our crews might implement a configuration change moving many of the Very Large Array’s 230-ton antennas (many, many employee safety protocols). There were unanticipated events that had to be addressed on the fly: ALMA Observatory had to shut down its 66-antenna array in March. There were the very much anticipated celebrations—the Very Large Array turned 40 on October 10! Celebration of this amazing milestone (the VLA is one of the most productive ground-based telescopes ever) was reconfigured by our STEAM Education team from an in-person celebration into an all-day (eight-hour) virtual tour.

Yet, science still prevailed! The VLA and the Very Long Baseline Array kept observing, while ALMA’s treasure trove of archival data remained available to anyone, and could still be utilized for science. (ALMA, by the way, is preparing a plan to restart operations in March of 2021).

This transition has had positive outcomes: we found new avenues of broadcasting science and astronomy that reach more people—we are literally making Contact! Our Education and Public Outreach staff ...

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