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Sensors 2012, 12(4), 4074-4090;

Equations for Solar Tracking

Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Avenue Circulaire 3, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanosciences, UCL, Chemin du Cyclotron 2, 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 February 2012 / Revised: 16 March 2012 / Accepted: 16 March 2012 / Published: 27 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
Full-Text   |   PDF [2757 KB, uploaded 21 June 2014]


Direct sunlight absorption by trace gases can be used to quantify them and investigate atmospheric chemistry. In such experiments, the main optical apparatus is often a grating or a Fourier transform spectrometer. A solar tracker based on motorized rotating mirrors is commonly used to direct the light along the spectrometer axis, correcting for the apparent rotation of the Sun. Calculating the Sun azimuth and altitude for a given time and location can be achieved with high accuracy but different sources of angular offsets appear in practice when positioning the mirrors. A feedback on the motors, using a light position sensor close to the spectrometer, is almost always needed. This paper aims to gather the main geometrical formulas necessary for the use of a widely used kind of solar tracker, based on two 45° mirrors in altazimuthal set-up with a light sensor on the spectrometer, and to illustrate them with a tracker developed by our group for atmospheric research. View Full-Text
Keywords: solar tracker; Fourier transform infrared spectrometry; algorithms solar tracker; Fourier transform infrared spectrometry; algorithms
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Merlaud, A.; De Mazière, M.; Hermans, C.; Cornet, A. Equations for Solar Tracking. Sensors 2012, 12, 4074-4090.

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