SNOWSHOE - When guests visit Snowshoe Mountain Resort, they are often seen wandering aimlessly through the resort's Village, cell phone pointed to the sky, a puzzled look on their face. Located in Pocahontas County, Snowshoe is in a federally mandated quiet zone encompassing nearly 13,000 square miles, created to minimize possible harmful radio interference, which causes guests' usually busy electronic devices to fall mostly silent during their visit to the picturesque resort. The quiet zone is in place to help protect the work being done just off the mountain at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va, also in Pocahontas County. Green Bank's NRAO facility, one of several NRAO research centers located around the United States, is home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the largest fully steerable dish in the world.
For most guests, knowledge of the NRAO doesn't extend beyond a few days without text messages, but the observatory's work goes far beyond the quiet zone. On Nov. 8, scientists at the Green Bank facility spent hours diligently observing data related to an asteroid, calculated to be the size of an air craft carrier, which passed between the Earth and the Moon. While the asteroid was reported to be some 200,000 miles from the Earth's surface, scientists at the NRAO were able to collect some fascinating data from the specimen, in work that was a team effort with other facilities around the world.
Snowshoe Mountain producer Ed Schneider visited with some of the NRAO's brightest minds Nov. 8 to learn more about the work being done in Green Bank and specifically the tracking of this enormous space rock.