National Radio Astronomy Observatory
For more information call the Science Center at Green Bank (304) 456-2150



The NRAO is located in Pocahontas County on Route 92/28, about 25 miles north of Marlinton, 53 miles south of Elkins, and 65 miles west of Staunton, VA


The Science Center is open Thurs-Mon 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The Starlight Cafe is open Thurs-Mon 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Cameras are welcome, but please note that DIGITAL cameras are not allowed in areas near the telescopes.


Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Open Daily. Free tours begin at the top of the hour: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Labor Day-October. Open Thursday.-Monday. Free tours begin at the top of the hour: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Winter and Spring: Nov. – Friday before Memorial Day Open Thurs.-Mon. 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Free tours at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM. Closed some holidays. Call for more information

Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope. The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is located at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's site in Green Bank, Pocahontas County, West Virginia (79° 50' 23.40" W, 38° 25' 59.23" N : NAD83).

The GBT is described as a 100-meter telescope, but the actual dimensions of the surface are 100 by 110 meters. The overall structure of the GBT is a wheel-and-track design that allows the telescope to view the entire sky above 5 degrees elevation. The track, 64 m (210 ft) in diameter, is level to within a few thousandths of an inch in order to provide precise pointing of the structure while bearing 7300 metric tons (16,000,000 pounds) of moving weight.

The GBT is of an unusual design. Unlike conventional telescopes, which have a series of supports in the middle of the surface, the GBT's aperture is unblocked so that incoming radiation meets the surface directly. This increases the useful area of the telescope and eliminates reflection and diffraction that ordinarily complicate a telescope's pattern of response. To accommodate this, an off-axis feed arm cradles the dish, projecting upward at one edge, and the telescope surface is asymmetrical. It is actually a 100-by-110 meter section of a conventional, rotationally symmetric 208-meter figure, beginning four meters outward from the vertex of the hypothetical parent structure.

The GBT's lack of circular symmetry greatly increases the complexity of its design and construction. The GBT is also unusual in that the 2,004 panels that make up its surface are mounted at their corners on actuators, little motor-driven pistons, which make it easier to adjust the surface shape. Such adjustment is crucial to the high-frequency performance of the GBT in which an accurate surface figure must be maintained.
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