Product Idea |

The Working Telescope


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When I was a kid, I didn't have a telescope on my own, so each summer I looked forward to the Nights of the Stars (Les Nuits des Étoiles in french), an event organized by the French Association of Astronomy that takes place early August every year and where astronomy clubs invite the general public to talk about space and look at the sky through binoculars or telescopes. I went with my dad and brothers and it was exhilarating to be able to get a clear view of stars and planets.

Lego and science - especially space science often go along, and space-related sets can have a great educational value : for example with 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery you can deploy the Hubble Telescope and with 21309 / 92176 NASA Apollo Saturn V you can go through every step of the lunar landing, as if you were in space yourself.
These are great sets, but I felt something was missing in Lego's range of products - the tool that, instead of sending you to space, brings space to you, and brought space to me when I was a kid : a telescope. So I've built it myself. But building a display model wasn't enough, I wanted it to have educational and play value, I wanted to do a telescope that people could actually use to look at the Moon, the planets, the stars.

How does it work ?

First of all, I have to be clear : this is not a real telescope made of Lego bricks. You can't point it towards the sky and see what's there. It's more of a model that simulates the functioning of a telescope. Here's how :

It begins with a light brick hidden inside the tube of the telescope, which is activated when you press the lens.

The light then passes through a decorated window - sets like 10273 Haunted House, 70917 The Ultimate Batmobile or 75810: The Upside Down have features that work in a similar way.

Then it goes through a pair of magnifying glasses, and bounces on a mirror, so when you look through the eyepiece, you can see the pattern of the window lit from behind by the light brick, which is what you would see if you looked through an actual telescope. What's even better is that it works even during daytime or when the weather is cloudy !

The decorations were made by my friend ThisStuds and are used as part of this Product Idea with his permission.

There are four patterns that can be swapped : a galaxy, the Moon and Jupiter with is moons, which are a reference to the inventor of the telescope, Galileo Galilei, and the three pieces of Spherus Magna, as a nod to the BIONICLE universe. Are there specific patterns you want to see ? I'd love to hear your suggestions !

How big is it ?

I wanted to make a model that would make a great display piece on a desk and be functional at the same time, so it had to be big, but not too big. When the tube is raised the model is 34cm / 13in tall, 29cm /11in long and 18cm / 7in wide. It's also possible to detach the tripod from the tube and fold its legs if you want to store it more easily. The tube itself, with the eyepiece, is 29cm / 11in long and the tripod, with its legs deployed, is 23cm / 9in tall.

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