René Baillaud

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René Baillaud (10 November 1885 – 2 July 1977) was a French astronomer born in Toulouse.

He invented the "paraboloïde" a precursor of the radar. This instrument made it possible to establish the position of planes without having to see them, using only the sound they produced. The precision of the instrument was such, that it was used during the first world war by the French military, to reppel night attacks from German bombers by pointing searchlights at them. This furthermore represented a rare technological superioty for the French. After this remarkable start in the fields of acoustics, he nonetheless decided to abandon this field. The reason being that his professor's own instrument didn't get chosen by the French military, and René feared he would have no academic future in this field. He then turned chronometry.

He initially worked at the observatories of Nice (1910–1924) and Marseille (1924–1930), while already teaching at the "École d'Ingénieurs de Marseille", before taking a chair as professor at the University of Besançon and becoming director of the Besançon observatory until 1957. During this time he oversees the installation of special clock, in a specially built room 5 meter underneath the observatories' library to maintain constant temperature, allowing the observatory to Join the establishment of a global time network.

He is a founding member of the French society of chronometry, and its first chief of staff, creating in 1931 the journal "Annales Françaises de Chronométrie". In order to join the global mapping project "Carte du Ciel" (directed by his brother), he oversees the installation of a specific instrument: "astrographe triple" dedicated to this purpose.

René Baillaud is the son of Benjamin Baillaud, and the brother of Jules Baillaud and Émile Baillaud.


  • René Baillaud, Baillaud, famille d'astronomes, Besançon, rédaction à la demande de la Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig (J.C. Poggendorff bibliographisch-litterarisches Handwörterbuch, Band VII b), 1967
  • Unité de temps, William Markowitz, Paul Libessart, René Baillaud Observatoire national de Besançon, 1955
  • Annales Françaises De Chronométrie. 1948–1949 Baillaud (René); Haag (Jules)
  • Détermination de l'heure au moyen de l'instrument photographique des hauteurs égales, par René Baillaud. Presses universitaires de France, 1923

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