Perhaps no invention has broadened our understanding of the universe more than the telescope. The very first device was created in the Netherlands in 1608 by Dutch eyeglass makers. However, early telescopes were used to view terrestrial objects. But in 1609, Galileo Galilei decided to point his telescope towards the cosmos, observing mountains and craters on the moon. Since that moment, telescopes have greatly advanced our knowledge of our place in the universe.
Standing in what appears to be another world is The VLT-Very Large Telescope. Located in the Antofagasta Province, Chile, in the Atacama Desert, the massive telescope is so advanced that researchers used it to discover carbon monoxide molecules in a galaxy nearly 11 billion light-years from Earth. Atop Kitt Peak in Sells, Arizona, is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, the world’s largest solar telescope. The device is so sensitive that it can view bright stars in the night sky. From a telescope housed inside a French castle to a spinning pool of mercury used to explore the evolution of the galaxy, here are 11 of our favorite telescopes to get lost in the stars.