One afternoon, while I was driving around in Nagano, I noticed a huge parabolic antenna lost in the middle of the mountains. I changed my route immediately to get closer to it. Then more antennas appeared. What a surprising place! I am not alone. Many people are coming back from a visit and the entrance is closing. That’s fine, I’d rather visit during the night 🙂
A few hours later, past midnight. There is no one and the sky is full of shooting stars. I walk in.
I feel so little here and the full-moon is the spotlight of a scene in which I am really tiny. Walking around those giants is quite intimidating and I know everything is active around me, eerily quiet. I am in love with the Nobeyama Radio Observatory.
I get to the huge radio detector I spotted earlier when I was driving. It is actually a 45m radio-telescope, not used to listen to the extraterrestrials’ rock stars but to analyze the short-millimeter wavelengths. This way, the professors working here can map the structure of our universe and detect such things as black holes.
I feel like I am in a scene from X-Files or Contact. Every once in a while, my heart jumps: there is a sudden buzz and clicks then everything starts to move. I realize all those giants are mounted on rails! It’s really odd to see them moving around.
The six big parabolic antennas at the entrance are the Nobeyama Millimeter Array (NMA). With them you can build high spatial resolution images.
There is more to see in this observatory such as the Nobeyama Radioheliograph (which is an array of 84 very little parabolic antennas) and Radio Polarimeters.
I really recommend visit Nobeyama if you are between Matsumoto (Nagano) and Kofu (Yamanashi) area. The open time is from 8:30am to 5:00pm and it’s free! 🙂