We compare various approaches to find the most efficient method for the practical computation of the lightcurves (integrated brightnesses) of irregularly shaped bodies such as asteroids at arbitrary viewing and illumination geometries. For convex models, this reduces to the problem of the numerical computation of an integral over a simply defined part of the unit sphere. We introduce a fast method, based on Lebedev quadratures, which is optimal for both lightcurve simulation and inversion in the sense that it is the simplest and fastest widely applicable procedure for accuracy levels corresponding to typical data noise. The method requires no tessellation of the surface into a polyhedral approximation. At the accuracy level of 0.01 mag, it is up to an order of magnitude faster than polyhedral sums that are usually applied to this problem, and even faster at higher accuracies. This approach can also be used in other similar cases that can be modelled on the unit sphere. The method is easily implemented in lightcurve inversion by a simple alteration of the standard algorithm/software.
- minor planets