REMOTE OBSERVING GUIDELINES – CONTINGENCY PLAN

 

1 PURPOSE

The goal of this document is to define the guidelines on hardware, software and steps that should be conducted for a successful remote observing session.

 

2 SCOPE

This document applies for all remote observing runs conducted on telescopes operated by Las Campanas Observatory (LCO). These guidelines are valid during the present contingency period associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In the future, remote observing sessions must be conducted from Partner Institutions remote facilities (The desired remote setup is defined in Remote Observing Station Guidelines).

 

3 DEFINITIONS

Not Available.

 

4 GUIDELINES  

4.1 Requirements

It is important to note that observations carried out in remote observing mode are still subject to the standard Observer guidelines adopted at LCO. 

 

4.1.1 Internet connection

A fast internet connection (> 8 Mbits/sec) is required in order to support a VNC session to the Observer Workstation  and a Zoom video call to maintain communications with the Telescope Operator.

 

4.1.2 Hardware requirements

LCO Observer workstations are currently composed of an Apple Mac Mini displaying to 2 monitors UXGA-1920×1200 screen resolution. Attempting to perform a remote observing run with only your laptop or a single monitor desktop less than 4K resolution is discouraged as it will reduce efficiency requiring continuous switching between VNC screens, Zoom and other required windows.

In order to achieve better performance on your remote observing run the following hardware is suggested.

  • Macbook Pro/Air, MacMini or Imac 2012 or later,  you need to check your hardware capabilities for the best supported monitor resolution.
    1. 4K 43” external monitor 3840×2160 resolution external monitor  if supported by your computer, this is the preferred choice and will allow you to have all the windows on one screen.
    2. 34” WQHD 3440×1440 resolution external monitor  if supported by your computer, second choice, can allow both observer workstation screens on the monitor and use your laptop/desktop screen for video connection and other local windows.
    3. 24” or greater UXGA-1920×1200 or FHD-1920×1080 external monitor. Only one screen at a time will be viewable, therefore you will need to switch between screens upon need and use your laptop screen for video connection and other windows. In case of Mac mini dual monitor configuration is desired.

 

You can check your device capabilities based on  its serial number following the indication described on the related how to.

 

4.1.3 Software requirements

  • Operating system: OSX High Sierra (10.13.6) or later have been tested.
  • VNC viewer: Native macOSX client is the required VNC client, some ajustement will be needed according to your external monitor setup, please check the related how to for more information. 
  • Video conference client: Zoom meeting client (latest version) is required in order to communicate with the Support Scientist , Telescope Operator and Instrument support technician that will assist you during your run. Check the related how to if you need guidance on setup and use zoom client.

 

4.2 Before your remote observing run

4.2.1 Prepare your remote observing session

Complete your instrument setup form. If the observing time is to be shared during the night, the PI for the run will be required to coordinate the instrument setup forms and share related connection information with all observers. 

 

4.2.2 Setup your VPN connection

You will use native mac OSX VPN client to connect, VPN credentials are changed on a daily basis and are valid for a 24 hours window starting at noon the day your run starts, you will receive an email with credentials on a daily basis. If you want to test your VPN configuration in advance, a testing account could be provided. See detailed VPN instructions.

 

4.3 During your remote observing run

Remote access for preparations and calibrations will start between 14:00 and 16:00 local Chile time.  The  Instrument specialist at Magellan or the support staff at duPont will send identified observers via email the meeting ID necessary to initiate the Zoom video call to the control room.  This meeting ID will change on a daily basis. 

 

The VNC connection to the observer workstation must be authorized by local support staff once the Zoom video call has been established.

 

Please remember to fill in the daily/nightly report (VPN required)before going to bed. Note that you need to connect through the VPN in order to access the daily report.  This page is linked in the web browser on the observer workstation for ready access at all times. This is a very important step, not only because it allows us to keep statistics on telescope use, downtime due to weather or technical issues, but mostly because only if we receive an early report on a technical problem, can we act promptly the next day to try and fix it and have you or the next observer ready for the next science night. 

 

4.4 After your remote observing run

Please fill in the Run-Report (VPN required) which is available on our website. The Run-Report form is our way to know your assessment of the entire remote observing run experience, so it is very important you submit it. Feel free to add any comments you think appropriate. 

 

4.5 Contact information and useful links.

 

Phone contact information
Telescope USA phone number Chile Phone Number Internal Extension
DUPONT Control Room +1-626-310-0436 +56-51-2203609
BAADE Control Room +1-626-310-1223 +56-51-2203635
CLAY Control Room +1-626-310-1230 +56-51-2203637

 

LCO Telescope Schedule Public Link
LCO Weather Information Public link
LCO Daily report Internal Link
LCO Run Report Internal Link

 

 

5 RELATED STANDARDS, POLICIES AND PROCESSES