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Telescopes from the Ground Up
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The resolution and light-collecting ability of the Very Large Array
Image of the Very Large Array in one of its many configurations.
Courtesy VLA

The Very Large Array is a Y-shaped collection of 27 individual radio dishes that can be moved close together or far apart. The resolution of the array depends on whether the dishes are positioned near each other or spread out. The amount of light the array can collect, however, depends on the size and number of dishes, not on the space between the dishes.

Diagram showing how, by combining many smaller telescopes, one can increase both image resolution and light gathering ability of the array.
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