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Resolution: Discerning Fine Details

The resolution of a telescope is a measure of its ability to differentiate between two objects a small distance apart; such that they appear distinct from one another. The following two images illustrate this effect.

Two nearby point light sources at high resolution

JPEG Image (17K); Credit and Copyright

Same light sources at low resolution

The objects no longer appear distinct, but rather as one lumpy, fuzzy blob.
JPEG Image (9K); Credit and Copyright

Resolution also indicates how much detail a telescope can discern about an individual object. The higher the resolution, the greater the ability of a telescope to discern smaller details. The following two images illustrate this.

Andromeda galaxy at high resolution

JPEG Image (41K); Credit and Copyright

Andromeda galaxy at low resolution

At low resolution much less detail is evident.
JPEG Image (16K); Credit and Copyright

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NCSA. Last modified 11/12/95