Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
MAGDALENA MOUNTAINS – Up here on South Baldy peak, 30 driving miles west and south of Socorro and 10,600 feet above sea level, you feel as if you could see North Carolina if you just looked east and squinted.
The truth is that from here, you can see into the dark corners of space, because this is the home of New Mexico Tech’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory. The observatory’s 2.4-meter (8-foot-diameter) telescope once tracked a tool belt dropped by an astronaut during a space walk.
“It makes little things bigger and dim things brighter,” said Eileen Ryan, director of the 2.4-meter telescope. “And it moves (rotates) 10 times faster than most telescopes because we are tracking things more like rockets than things like stars and planets.”