New "portal to space" at Onsala Space Observatory

Schoolkids and the public will have new opportunities to explore both the universe and our own planet in Chalmers' new visitor center at the Onsala Space Observatory. The observatory is one of few places in the world where visitors can come into close contact with gigantic, working telescopes. The visitor center, built with minimising climate impact as a goal, is made a large extent of reused material. 
Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers is a facility for scientists who want to understand both the universe and our planet, the Earth. Here, young people and the general public can come into close contact with the latest technology for understanding space and big questions in astronomy and Earth sciences.

"Today we have more and larger telescopes at the observatory than we have ever had before. They are awesome to look at, and the work they do is just as impressive. We look forward to meeting curious guests of all ages in the future", says Eva Wirström, astronomer and deputy director of Onsala Space Observatory.

Curiosity is a driving force for both researchers and visitors to the observatory, argued Chalmers President Stefan Bengtsson in his speech during the opening ceremony on 27 September.

"The opportunity for scientists to determine the direction of their research, with their own curiosity as a compass, is something we at Chalmers value highly. The mind must be free - only then can unexpected and ground-breaking discoveries be made! I hope and believe that the visitor center will be a place for inspired meetings - here children and young people can meet scientists, and science at the cutting edge. Their level of knowledge differs, but the curiosity is the same", said Stefan Bengtsson.

Designed together with schoolkids

In addition to the science conducted at Onsala Space Observatory, visitors are also given the opportunity to experience space-related technology and research conducted at other parts of Chalmers.

On site during the opening, 21 school children participated from two schools that had been involved in developing the content of the new exhibition, Lövgärdesskolan in northern Gothenburg and Kollaskolan in Kungsbacka. Led by Stefan Bengtsson, they counted down from 21 to zero, and then the exhibition's screens - including a large digital globe - were lit up to mark the opening of the new centre.

In addition to these two schools, also Ara​näsgymnasiet high school in Kungsbacka and Halland Astronomical Society took part in preparatory work for the exhibition, which was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Chalmers' Division for Interaction Design at the department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Guided tours for more in the future

Work on developing the exhibition will continue in the coming months. At the beginning of 2023, the observatory will start to accept bookings for guided tours all types of visitor groups.

Already on October 16, a public event at the observatory will be held in collaboration with Naturum Fjärås Bräcka. Tickets for this event are being available from Kungsbacka Tourist Office at the address​

Reuse from roof to toilets

The building project, run by Chalmersfastigheter, has had as a goal of maximizing reuse and circularity, and the new visitor center consists largely of reused materials. For instance, the zinc panels around the roof come from the Kiasma art museum in Helsinki, Finland. The foundation wall is built using leftover parts of concrete pillars from building projects in Gothenburg, and the toilets come from the head office of a well-known bank in Stockholm. 

The construction project was continuously evaluated for progress in terms of reuse and circularity. The building was designed by White Arkitekter and built by NCC.

Onsala Space Observatory is part of Chalmers, and is run with the support of the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and the Swedish mapping authority Lantmäteriet.


- The new visitor center is located among the radio telescopes at Onsala Space Observatory.

- Chalmers President Stefan Bengtsson gave the opening speech.

- School children from Lövgärdesskolan in Gothenburg, and Kollaskolan in Kungsbacka have been involved in the design of the exhibition. In the photo we see Larocca Macacero och Henrik Harutyunyan, Lövgärdesskolan.

- Oscar Muhr (left) and Rémi Albert, two members of the Chalmers student network Upprymd, guided visitors to the exhibition.

​​All photos: Anna-Lena Lundqvist​

Page manager Published: Fri 30 Sep 2022.