Few people are lucky enough to use the world's largest and most sophisticated telescopes to look into space, but thanks to the team at The European Southern Observatory, now anyone can have the next best thing: their own LEGO mini-version. According to Popular Science, the ESO has designed large LEGO replicas of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), currently active as campaigns on the LEGO Ideas platform.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the real E-ELT, which is on track to be the "largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world," was held in 2014, but the project won't be finished until at least 2024. When completed, the main structure will weigh 2800 tons (about 6.2 million pounds) and its dome enclosure will stand 74 meters tall (243 feet).

Bringing things down to a more manageable scale, astronomer Frans Snik designed and built the replicas to be as close to the actual telescopes as possible. The VLT model, made of 3104 bricks, is one of four telescopes that make up the ESO unit located in Chile. The E-ELT model is almost twice as complex [PDF], with 5274 pieces and a hefty price tag of around $673.

While Snik and ESO have already shared the parts lists and instructions online, by posting the projects on LEGO Ideas, they hope they'll garner enough fan support that the company will decide to produce the kits (which means builders won't have to source their own bricks). To vote for the E-ELT model or the VLT model projects or to get the plans now and start your own build, head over to the Idea platforms website.


"E-ELT LEGO model" / Frans Snik/ESO


ESO/F. Snik/M. Zamani


ESO/F. Snik/M. Zamani


"The LEGO® VLT model in its entirety" / ESO/F. Snik/M. Zamani


"The LEGO® VLT model is presented to ESO’s Director General" /ESO/F. Snik/M. Zamani

[h/t Popular Science]Images via ESO.