Tracking

  • Maja 

Tracking is a phrase in astronomy, which means that a telescope sited on mount can follow the object as it moves on the night sky. When observing a celestial object, we notice that after a short period, the object starts to move out of our field of view. This happens because of Earth’s rotation. To keep the object in our field of view, tracking the object is required.

Depending on the type of mount, there are different ways of tracking objects:

  • manual tracking and
  • motor tracking. 

Manual tracking

Manual tracking is used when a telescope mount doesn’t have a drive/motor. To keep the object in the field of view, the telescope must be moved by hand or slow-motion controllers.

Motor tracking

For precise tracking, a telescope mount, driven by motor, needs to be correctly aligned. Motor tracking can be done either on:

Accuracy of tracking depends on:

  • the motor speed,
  • quality of the mount and
  • alignment.

If the telescope is not correctly aligned and the quality of mount is bad, then tracking would most likely be feeble.

For precise tracking, secondary corrections are required. These can be done using the guiding telescope.

Tracking modes

Depending on the type of mount, the tracking modes must be appropriately selected.

  • If the telescope is placed on an altazimuth mount, then the default tracking rate must be used (Alt AZ).
  • To track the object on an equatorial mount, the EQ North or EQ South mode must be used – the mode used depends on Earth’s Hemisphere.

The tracking mode can be turned off if the telescope is used for terrestrial observations.

Tracking rates

Depending on the type of object being observed and tracked, the right tracking rate must be selected.

  • Solar tracking is used for observing and tracking the Sun
  • For lunar landscape observations and tracking the moon, Lunar tracking must be selected.
  • Sidereal tracking compensates for the rotation of the Earth. It is the most basic tracking rate used for most celestial objects.

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