UCI Remote Observing Setup



Policies and Procedures.

The remote observing room (FRH 2149) is available for Keck and Lick observing, videoconferences, and other meetings.  The priorities are:
  1. Keck remote observing
  2. Lick remote observing on the Shane telescope
  3. Lick remote observing on the Nickel telescope
  4. Videoconferences related to UC Observatories business, Keck, TMT, etc.
  5. Other videoconferences
  6. Other meetings
Carrollann will be maintaining a calendar for the room.  It is important to reserve the room well in advance for remote observing, because there may be times when we have both Keck and Lick observers who would like to use the room on the same night.  As soon as you know that you want to use the remote observing room for a particular night, you must reserve the night on the calendar.  If there are scheduling conflicts with more than one group requesting the room on a particular day or night, then the higher ranked request (according to the list above) will get priority.  If two different UCI groups are scheduled for the same night on both Keck telescopes and both want to use the room, then the first group to request the remote observing room will get priority.  In that case, it may be possible for the other group to use a remote facility at another campus as a backup choice.

Keep in mind that a night of remote observing involves afternoon setup and calibrations, and possibly morning calibrations too.  A remote observing group will have priority over any other daytime meetings, so daytime teleconferences and meetings should not be scheduled at times that would conflict in any way with a remote observing session. 

To start planning your remote observing run, there are 2 things you need to do:
  1. Tell Carrollann the dates and times you need the room and which telescope you'll be using so she can add your event to the calendar
  2. Contact the appropriate observatory personnel to request permission for remote observing (see links below for Lick and Keck instructions).
The amount of time needed in the remote observing room will vary by season and will depend on the amount of setup time needed in the afternoon.  If you have a remote observing night,  try to estimate the amount of time you'll actually be in the room, so that other groups can use the room during the daytime before or after your observing night.   As examples, a typical observing session including setup time might be something like this:
Then when you reserve the room with Carrollann, tell her the hours that you'll be using the room so she can mark them on the calendar.  Don't forget to account for the time difference between Hawaii and California, and remember that Hawaii doesn't use daylight savings time.

We are using Google Calendar to manage the remote observing room schedule.  When you want to schedule an event, talk to Carrollann and she can put it in the calendar for you.   The calendar is only viewable by members- if you want permission to view the calendar then talk to Aaron.  It's easiest if you have a gmail account.  Once you have an invitation to view the calendar, you can see it in your own Google Calendar or in the following link:

The remote observing calendar is viewable here.

If you're scheduling the room for daytime use, check the schedule to see if a nighttime user is using the room before or after you, and try to leave plenty of buffer time if you're scheduling a meeting so that there won't be any conflicts with nighttime observers.

It's the observer's responsibility to be aware of all observatory policies and procedures related to remote observing- see the links below.  In particular, the observer is responsible for contacting the appropriate observatory staff members to schedule the remote observing run, and to do this well in advance of the observing run.  For Lick, remote observers must be checked out and approved by observatory staff on the instrument that's being used and on the remote observing setup.

If you need login information for the remote observing workstation, talk to Aaron or Gary.

It is also the observer's responsibility to clean up after using the room.  Please don't bring food or drinks to the observer's desk where things could spill on the computer or keyboard-  if you're going to eat, use the round table.


Remote observing setup for Keck.

For Keck, we are set up for "eavesdrop" mode observing, in which at least one observer has to be in Waimea and other observers can participate from Irvine.  In eavesdrop mode, the observers in Irvine have access to all instrument controls and can participate fully in the night's observing.  We are not set up for fully remote observing since we don't yet have a backup ISDN line which is needed in case of internet outage. 

Requests for eavesdrop mode must be made at least 2 weeks prior to the observing run.  Detailed instructions on how to make the request are in the links below.

Polycom IP numbers and support astronomer phone numbers are posted on the bulletin board.  For a remote observing session, use the polycom to connect to the Waimea remote ops polycom for Keck I or Keck II.  If all goes well then you should see a 3-way connection with Waimea and the summit control room.

Important links for Keck remote observing:



Remote observing setup for Lick.

For Lick, we can do either full remote or eavesdrop observing.  To request remote or eavesdrop observing, you must specify it on your proposal, or contact Burt Jones to make the request (see detailed instructions in the Lick policies and procedures page below).  You must also be previously checked out on the instrument that you'll be using.  On the first afternoon of the observing run, you'll need to schedule a remote system checkout to make sure that the polycom and instrument connections are working properly.

It is absolutely critical that you should not start up the instrument control software or do any instrument configuration until you've spoken with the day crew at the summit and gotten permission from them.   There is a danger of damage to people or to the instrument if you accidentally started initializing the instrument while the day crew was working on it.  ALWAYS talk to the day crew on the polycom and get permission from them before starting any instrument controls or initialization.  When you're setting up in the afternoon, the very first thing to do is to initiate a polycom connection to the Shane control room to talk to the day crew.

Important links for Lick remote observing:  (Some of the links on the Lick remote observing site are only accessible by certain IP addresses.  The workstation in our remote observing room should have permission to view all of the links.)



End of night shutdown procedures.

This applies to both Keck and Lick.  At the end of the night, use the appropriate instrument menus to shut down all of the instrument controls, guider windows, etc.   Use the instrument control menus (rather than the window manager buttons) to close the instrument windows.  Then, when everything is fully shut down, go back to the original terminal window that you used to start up the VNC session.  Hit control-c in that window, and that will kill the VNC windows.  Then just log out of the workstation.  When you're done with the polycom session, just hit the button on the polycom remote to hang up the session, and turn off the TV.    It's ok to leave the polycom on after you've hung up- the system will go to sleep after a few minutes.  Also, turn off the four LCD monitors to save power.