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Origins of BNC PDF Print E-mail

The Baker-Nunn camera (BNC) is an f/1 50cm aperture modified Schmidt telescope originally created by Smithsonian Institution in late 50s to photographically observe artificial satellites. The superb optical design of the camera and the achieved fast response yielded out an extraordinary field of view of 5°x30° with a spot size inferior to 20µm throughout the field. This turned BNC into an extraordinary instrument in spite of its manually driven alt-azimutal mount and the use of curved 55cm cinemascope film as a detector.

The Smithsonian Institution performed a first set of 12 units which were spread around the world. One of them was installed at the Real Instituto y Observatorio de la Armada (ROA).

Baker-Nunn camera in San Fernando when it was operating the follow-up program of artificial satellites, coordinated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

 Baker-Nunn camera in San Fernando when it was following-up artificial satellites.

Once the photography was technically superseded for satellites observation and replaced by program GEODSS at early 80s, the telescope passed to property of ROA, which has maintained it inactive although in excellent state of conservation.

Last Updated ( Friday, 25 March 2011 )