Interactive astronomical exhibition

Experience the Universe! The ESO Supernova hosts an outstanding, modern and interactive astronomical exhibition, which is as entertaining as it is educational. Explore, touch, use real astronomical artefacts and conduct experiments to get an idea of what it means to be an astronomer, to work in science, and to discover the mysteries of the Universe.

The first permanent exhibition is called The Living Universe, and covers the topic of life in the Universe in the broadest sense. It connects visitors with topics that can seem very distant and abstract by focusing on the human–Universe connection, general astronomy, life in the Universe, and how we observe the Universe using ESO facilities. It is designed by Design und Mehr in collaboration with HITS gGmbH and ESO.

The 2200 m2 of exhibition space covers 13 different themes that focus on the human–Universe connection, life in the Universe, and how ESO facilities are used to observe the Universe. The themes are:

  1. Astronomy — What is astronomy?
  2. Earth, Moon & Sun — Why is the Earth special?
  3. The Solar System — Is the Earth Unique?
  4. Stars — How do stars form, live and die?
  5. Exoplanets — Are we alone?
  6. ESO — What is ESO?
  7. Discovery machines — What’s new at ESO’s big observatories?
  8. Technology — How do astronomers study starlight?
  9. ELT — What is the ELT?
  10. Galaxies — Is our Milky Way galaxy unique?
  11. Cosmology — Where did we come from, and where are we going?
  12. Cosmic mysteries and threats — What are the great unknowns?
  13. Newsroom — What are the hot topics in astronomy?

Beginning at the entrance to the ESO Supernova, you will walk along a gently sloping 255-metre long path which takes you around the building — to the top and then back to the bottom — interacting with the exhibits of each theme as you go. Highlights include huge and beautiful wall prints of the cosmos, real astronomical artefacts, and a mock-up of the Atacama Desert — the home of ESO’s telescopes.

How long you stay is up to you — you can spend just 30 minutes on a quick walkthrough, or up to four hours on an in-depth study of all the exhibits. You could even make several visits, concentrating on a different part of the exhibition each time!

All information in the exhibition is available in English and German. The exhibition is free of charge


Credit: ESO/P. Horálek


Credit: ESO/P. Horálek