Celestial Object Trackerusing Automated Equatorial Mountfor Astrophotography
The cost of the autonomous systems used in the study of astronomy is very high as compared to the manual systems like a small telescope. One such example of an autonomous system is the tracker mount used for astrophotography. To reduce the cost, a system is proposed in the paper which provides a pointing mechanism accompanied by a tracking mechanism that would locate and keep the focus of the camera on a desired celestial object autonomously. The system is based on an equatorial mount structure and provides automatic polar alignment and pointing process by accepting required inputs from the user. The system provides the catalogue of Messier objects and can also accept coordinates of any celestial object from the user. The system uses the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) based sensor board to get the information about the orientation of the camera in space. The output from the sensor is processed and filtered by the raspberry pi processor and the real-time clock (RTC) is used to keep track of local sidereal time to get the reference coordinates. For tracking a celestial object, gear assembly is designed to match the speed of rotation of the system to the speed of rotation of the earth. Delivering uncomplicated results and convenient for budding astrophotography enthusiasts, the proposed system is a low-cost alternative that will help the users to observe and capture the celestial system flawlessly.