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It is based on a ratio of the size of the telescope to the wavelength of the radiation that you are studying and collecting. A radio telescope studies radio waves, which have wavelengths thousands of times longer than visible light, which is collected in an optical telescope. Therefore, a radio telescope must be much larger than an optical telescope.

Fortunately, a radio telescope doesn't have to have complete coverage. So two radio telescopes dozens of miles apart has a resolution much better than a single telescope, or even two radio telescopes close together. This is why there are fields of dozens - soon to be hundreds - of radio telescopes spanning hundreds of miles all observing the same spot. It acts as a radio telescope as big as the farthest separation.

One such is the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescope.

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βˆ™ 2011-04-26 02:45:28
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Q: Why the receiving dish of a radio telescope must be larger than an optical telescope in order for radio telescopes to have adequate resolution?
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