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To enable new breakthrough discoveries in astronomy, European astronomers (through the European Southern Observatory, ESO) are building the European Extremely Large Telescope. With a primary mirror 39 meters in diameter, it will be by far the largest telescope ever built: it will have a collecting area larger than all existing telescopes combined, and it will provide us with an extremely sharp and sensitive view of the Universe. With the E-ELT, astronomers will be able to see potentially habitable planets around nearby stars, and observe galaxies forming just after the Big Bang. The E-ELT is currently under construction at Cerro Armazones in Chile, and first light is expected in 2024.
This LEGO model provides a relatively accurate representation of the current design of the E-ELT telescope structure. The scale is roughly 1:150, and the miniature truck included in the design is just there to demonstrate the sheer size of the telescope. The telescope is fully steerable in all directions.
Also the optical configuration closely resembles the actual design. The primary mirror consists of 798 "segments" (1x1 flat LEGO tiles) that together take on the correct shape, such that in combination with the four other main mirrors, the light from an astronomical target is guided to one of the two instrument platforms on either side. Several instruments will be located on these platforms and some of the currently planned instruments are included in the design.
The complete instruction set and parts list can be downloaded at http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann14071/
The LEGO E-ELT has already been built in at least ten locations all over the world. A few examples here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Many thanks in advance if you are willing to vote for this model. And if you are interested in building one (or several!) of these LEGO Very Large Telescopes, please drop me an email, and send me some photos of the building process!
Photo credit: Frans Snik. Background photo: ESO/C. Malin.