Lego Very Large Telescope – Garching bei München, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Garching bei München, Germany

Lego Very Large Telescope

A surprisingly detailed model of one of the most powerful telescopes in the world. 

One of the most advanced pieces of astronomical equipment in the world today is the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, or VLT, which is actually an array of four enormous reflecting telescopes each measuring 27 feet (8.2 meters) in diameter.

On their own, these telescopes are amazingly strong and can detect objects in space that would take months to observe with other telescopes. On top of that, it is possible to quite literally string these telescopes together into one mega-telescope by sending the captured light into long optical fibers in order to retard it in such a way that all the light of the telescopes reaches the detector simultaneously. 

Unfortunately for most Europeans, the VLT is situated high in the mountains in Chile, making it quite hard to ever see this modern wonder. Fortunately, a solution has been found for this, one that involves Lego.

With a staggering 3,104 pieces, the telescope array and the Chilean mountaintop on which it rests have been recreated on a 1:150 scale. The domes and telescopes are fully movable and the basement even has a laser interferometer as a representation of the fiber cables. 

The Lego model VLT is located at the German headquarters of the European Southern Observatory, or ESO, an intergovernmental research organization. For those who want to build their own, an instruction manual and parts list also exist—but be warned that this is not a cheap endeavor; the entire set will cost about €500!

Know Before You Go

The telescope is situated on the 2nd floor of the ESO headquarters in Garching. It is not freely accessible except for open days or if you happen to know an astronomer.

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