AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

Tycho Tracker: A New Tool to Facilitate the Discovery and Recovery of Asteroids Using Synthetic Tracking and Modern GPU Hardware (Abstract)

Volume 48 number 2 (2020)

Daniel Parrott


(Abstract only) Approximately 2100 Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are discovered each year. Nine out of ten are discovered at magnitude 19 and fainter. The conventional wisdom for those interested in discovering such objects has been that aperture is king. However, a relatively new concept—synthetic tracking—enables the discovery and recovery of such objects even with amateur-class telescopes. At the time of its introduction in 2013, it was largely dismissed as impractical due to the required computing power. Fast-forward seven years later to 2020, and graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware is now 10 times faster at half the cost. Furthermore, the amateur astronomer now has access to full frame CMOS cameras that permit short exposures with low read-out noise. Finally, the new Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph (RASA) telescopes offer an optimal pairing with the smaller pixels commonly encountered in modern CMOS cameras. Combining all three of these recent advancements leads to an exciting new frontier in the world of minor planet research and discovery.