Why is the bowl of the radio telescope painted white? © iStock

Why is the bowl of the radio telescope painted white?

The colour of the telescope has no effect on its electromagnetic properties but it does play an important role in regulating temperature.

Asked by: Alan Blackwood, by email

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The colour of a dish doesn’t have any bearing on its electromagnetic properties. However, white reflects sunlight and heat, and that limits how much the temperature of its surface fluctuates. The shape of a radio telescope dish is critical in order for it to perform well as a receiver. Limiting shifts in temperature therefore helps to reduce thermal expansion.


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