Camera, Big Throughput


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Explore the Universe exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

Leveraging developments in CCD technology in the 1990s, Gary Bernstein and Tony Tyson built the Big Throughput Camera to map Dark Matter by surveying galaxies in a large volume of our universe. It was placed at the prime focus of the Blanco 4-meter telescope at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories at Cerro Tololo, Chile. This camera was also used by two groups to search the sky for new supernova explosions that could then be scrutinized by other instruments, like the Hubble Space Telescope, to determine their distances. This led to the surprising result in 1998 that the expansion of our universe is accelerating, and to the realization that there must exist a repulsive force driving the acceleration, now called Dark Energy.

J. Anthony Tyson in the Department of Physics at the University of California at Davis donated this camera to the Museum in 2016.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Gift of J. Anthony Tyson, Department of Physics, University of California at Davis


Country of Origin

United States of America


mixed metals, silicon


  • 3-D: 53.3 × 47 × 54.9cm (21 × 18 1/2 × 21 5/8 in.)
  • 3-D (Dewar Cylinder Top Diameter): 30.5cm (12 in.)
  • Approximate: 22.7kg (50lb.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


EQUIPMENT-Scientific Devices

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