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It took some of the brightest minds in science and technology to build ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, one of the largest and most sophisticated telescope facilities in the world. Now Dutch astronomer Frans Snik and a team of
dedicated helpers have created a unique #lego ® model of the entire Paranal platform, complete with replicas of the four 8.2-metre VLT Unit Telescopes (UT), the four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes and other astonishingly minute details .
This mind-boggling one-of-a-kind model has been handed over to #eso and is on display at the #eso Headquarters in Garching, Germany. When the #eso Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre opens at the #eso Headquarters in spring
2018, the model will be displayed there.
The model of the Paranal platform, at a scale of approximately 1:150, comprises the VLT telescopes and their dome structures, and all of the instruments used on the real VLT are also present. It also has accurate models of the VST, VISTA and the Control Building. Each 8.2-metre UT on the VLT platform comprises exactly 3104 parts, and the whole Paranal platform model required over 25 000 individual parts — plus a substantial amount of time and patience!
The telescopes rotate and all the dome shutters and vents open and close. The four Auxiliary Telescopes can be moved into position along their tracks, just like the real things, and the VLTI tunnels house a working miniature interferometer that can produce real fringes.
Building a model telescope is an excellent way to understand how complex modern astronomical instruments work and anyone ambitious enough (and with around 5000 euros to spare) can build their own version of these huge telescopes. Frans Snik will be pleased to provide the necessary instructions.
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