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Green Bank or Quiet Zone radio telescope in West Virginia Photo by: Wikipedia

Quiet Zone Radio Telescope

by Noelle Knell / November 19, 2013

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, named for the late West Virginia senator, is located within the National Radio Quiet Zone, an area designed to guard against electromagnetic interference with radio telescopes. The Green Bank Telescope is large enough to fit two acres of land within its giant dish and is as tall as the Washington Monument. It works by tracking energy waves coming from stars or gases, and its location in a sparsely populated region is no accident.

The “Quiet Zone” is located on approximately 13,000 square miles of land in eastern West Virginia, centered between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NARO) at Green Bank, W.Va., and the Sugar Grove Research Facility at Sugar Grove, W.Va. The zone was created in 1956 to protect the radio telescopes at these facilities from distracting interference.

While the area lacks Wi-Fi or cell signals, the quiet zone isn’t completely silent; some low-broadcast radio stations are still allowed, as are emergency communications like ambulance and fire response services. The Green Bank Telescope, however, sits within an even quieter area of the quiet zone, in a section of West Virginia that adheres to stricter interference rules.

To keep the zone safe from possible interference, like Wi-Fi signals, National Radio Astronomy Observatory officials patrol a 20-mile radius of the telescope weekly.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.