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Timeless Beauty

Submitter: Madroon, E.J.
Description: While LOFAR only looks impressive from the air (and then only the central bit, really), the Old Lady of Westerbork looks good from any angle. And sometimes, everything conspires to make her look truly magnificent.

Admittedly, her charms hark back to a gentler age. Her confinement to an East-West line is dictated by the limitations of early computers, which could only handle 2D Fourier Transforms. And her regular 144m spacings predate the invention of deconvolution methods like CLEAN or uv-plane source subtraction. Similarly, her equatorial mounts, near-identical dishes, balanced transmission lines, negligible closure errors and on-axis receivers reflect the need to approach intrinsic perfection, before the invention of self-calibration and the formulation of the Measurement Equation allowed us to get away with cheaper solutions.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to beat old-fashioned quality. After four decades, the Old Lady still sets the standard for dynamic range and wide-field polarization, a standard to which younger competitors can only aspire. And soon, she will be the first to acquire focal plane arrays, allowing her a wider field of view, and thus a greater survey speed. Quietly, she is always there to help the development of her putative grandchild, the Square Km Array.

In the meantime, like Carlo Ponti, we are lost in rapturous contemplation.
Copyright: NORTSA
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