Because who would've guessed naming a group of giant radio telescopes the 'very large array' wouldn't inspire awe and wonder in our nation's youth and make them give a damn about space, the National Science Foundation is holding a contest to rename the Astronomical Alienfinder. BOOM -- I already did better.
The iconic radio telescope, known around the world through movies, documentaries, music videos, newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, textbooks, and thousands of scientific papers, is nearing the completion of an amazing transformation. More than a decade of effort has replaced the VLA's original, 1970s-vintage electronics with modern, state-of-the-art equipment.
"Though the giant dish antennas, the unique machines that move them across the desert, and the buildings on New Mexico's Plains of San Agustin may appear much the same, the VLA truly has become a new and different facility. We want a name that reflects this dramatically new status," Lo said. "The new name should clearly reflect the VLA's leading role in the future of astronomy, while honoring its multitude of past achievements."
I linked to the official entry page below, but I just read the whole thing and it doesn't mention anything about a cash prize for coming up with the winning name. So yeah, 'very large array' sounds fine to me.
Thanks to Brinton, who suggested we name them 'those satellite dishes from that movie Contact with Jodie Foster', which might be the smartest thing that's ever come out of his mouth.