Greenbank Radio Observatory

March 26, 2013 |

Photo by William Shaver

Today, the National Radio Observatory in Green Bank, WV stands a great chance of being shut down. Many local residents and visitors to the area are contemplating the possible effects that this change would have for Pocahontas County.

Much of the reason that the radio observatory at Green Bank exists in rural West Virginia is because the National Forest that surrounds the telescopes provides a natural buffer to interference from internet and other electronic frequencies. The starry night sky of Pocahontas County is just about as clear and distinct as any nighttime view here would have been one hundred years ago. Cell phones do not operate near the telescope. Although a few visitors and residents complain, many people feel the radio quiet zone of Green Bank is what makes Pocahontas County a spectacular retreat.

Residents here enjoy a quiet place to raise children and have access to miles of unspoiled forests throughout the Monongahela National Forest, including Wilderness areas. Amateur star gazers, photographers and astronomers know that the views from Green Bank are some of America’s finest places to enjoy the natural beauty, and to gaze at the vast worlds that sit at the edge of our own.

William Shaver is today’s guest contributor to Traveling 219. He is a native to Mercer County, WV, though he now lives in Arkansas. There, his friends call him Mountain Man. He wrote this memory of Green Bank in the hopes that it would encourage more of us to think about what Green Bank is, what it has been, and what it would be if it were gone from the hills of WV.

“Back in 1959 or 1960 my dad took us kids on a road trip during spring vacation; we followed 219 upstate. We made a short side trip over to a place most people had never heard about–the National Radio Observatory (NARO) at Green Bank West Virginia.

At that time, there were very few buildings. We had a gentleman drive in an old taxi who gave us a quick tour. Later I found out that this gentleman was the Director of the facility (I don’t recall his name). Now Green Bank is home to the Robert C Byrd GBT. If the Greenbank Radio Observatory were not operating any more, it would be a great shame.”

Learn more about the future of the National Radio Observatory in Green Bank, WV here.




Category: Blog

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