Thieves set their sights on Norway’s venerable Solobservatoriet north of Oslo this week, stealing several large and heavy telescopes worth around NOK 100,000. The old but popular observatory is accessible only via lengthy forest roads, making the thieves’ getaway risky but apparently successful.
The culprits broke into the observatory, located in the hills of Hadeland above the community of Harestua, sometime during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. “They destroyed an outer door and a window, and took with them several modern telescopes that would be easy to sell,” said Vegar Lundby Rekaa, an astronomer and manager of the observatory that’s often visited by school groups and other organizations.
Rekaa asked the public to watch for any advertised sales of telescopes on social media and the online marketplace finn.no. “There is a market for such used equipment, so we’re asking folks to report any suspicious ads,” Rekaa told state broadcaster NRK.
He said the break-in wouldn’t disrupt planned events, including an “open house” Thursday night. “We’re setting up some reserve telescopes that we had stored in other buildings,” he said, “but it’s clear the theft will put some limits on our possibilities.”
The observatory, built in 1954, remains Northern Europe’s largest astronomical facitilty and once ranked as a leading center for solar research, hence the sol (sun) in its name. Since the 1980s it has functioned as an information center for astronomy and the natural sciences (external link) operated by the Tycho Brahe Institute.