All Keck science instruments have been used routinely for "remote observing" from Keck Headquarters in Waimea since 1996. WMKO supports observing from selected sites on the U.S. mainland, as well as a site in Australia.

Modes of Operation

WMKO offers three modes of operation for mainland observing:
  1. Eavesdrop mode: At least one member of the observing team (who is experienced in using the scheduled instrument) observes from Waimea, while other members of the team observe from the mainland. Control of the instrument is shared between the two sites, with Waimea having primary responsibility for operating the instrument. Requests to eavesdrop should be made at least two weeks prior to the run.
  2. Mainland-only mode: The entire observing team observes from one or more sites off-island, with remote support provided by the Support Astronomer in Waimea as usual. WMKO currently requires that at least one member of the mainland team have recent experience with operating the scheduled instrument, which we define as having used the instrument on-sky at least one night in the last two years. Such requests are due 4 weeks prior to the run.
  3. Video-only mode: A remote observer wishes to participate using the Polycom videoconferencing unit at the remote site, without having any instrument control windows running remotely. Such requests are due 1 business day before the run.

Requesting Use of Mainland Observing Facilities

Please note that as of October 2010, the procedure for requesting use of mainland observing facilties has changed. Observers (whether PI or co-I) should now submit requests through their observing homepage at WMKO as follows: Please note that all requests are contingent on: Following submission of your request, WMKO will notify you within 2 business days regarding the decision.


Pre-run Checkout

Remote observers are responsible for scheduling a time with your local site manager to perform checkout of the video and VNC sessions prior to the run as described in this checklist. Please consult the telescope schedule to determine which observing account you have been assigned, which determines which VNC servers you should connect with. Observers should complete this checkout procedure at least one business day (but not more than 5 calendar days) before the run to ensure that both are operating correctly, and should contact their support astronomer if any problems occur.

Internet Outages

Although Internet outages are now less frequent than in the past, they can still occur without warning and may affect your run. As mentioned above, observers accept the potential risk of lost observing time when agreeing to make use of remote sites. In an outage, your options depend on your operating mode: If the Internet connection fails, you may ask the OA to contact Keck software personnel to determine whether or not the fault lies within the Keck network. If the Keck network is the problem, then we will do our best to fix it. If the problem lies within your network, you will need to contact your local site manager to diagnose the problem. If the problem lies outside the local networks, then we may not be able to assist.

NOTE: It is not appropriate to ask the your Observing Assistant or Support Astronomer to operate the instrument for you in case the Internet fails. By using the mainland site, you accept the risk that you may lose observing time to Internet outages.

Further information

For additional information about mainland observing with Keck, please contact the .