Remote Observing with the IRAM 30-meter telescope - User Guide
Title: Remote Observing with the IRAM 30-meter telescope - User Guide Identifier - Master URL: https://mrt-doc.iram.es/mainWiki/RemoteObservingUG Date: March 26th, 2018 Expiration Date: none Author: computerGroup(at)iram.es Audience: 30m observers planning remote observation, 30m operators Publisher: IRAM, Granada, Spain Subject and Keywords: remote observing About this document: User Guide to do remote observing from IRAM, Granada, and Internet
Title: Remote Observing with the IRAM 30-meter telescope - User Guide
Identifier - Master URL: https://mrt-doc.iram.es/mainWiki/RemoteObservingUG
Date: March 26th, 2018
Expiration Date: none
Audience: 30m observers planning remote observation, 30m operators
Publisher: IRAM, Granada, Spain
Subject and Keywords: remote observing
About this document: User Guide to do remote observing from IRAM, Granada, and Internet
About this page
This page explains how 30m observers can observe from their home institutes or from the .iram.es local network. Please check the Short Guide below and report us any problems to help us improve the guide. The following instructions assume that the user is working under Linux. MacOS users find additional information in the FAQ section below.
Useful Phone Numbers
The standard phone numbers for contacting the Operator and the AoD at the IRAM 30m telescope can be found in the Contact us section of the IRAM home page. They are listed below for convenience:
- Operator: +34 958 482002 ext. 9
- AoD: +34 958 482002 ext. 122
Please keep in mind that the IRAM 30m observatory is at a remote location. The phone system could be out of order during periods of inclement weather. In those (rare) circumstances, one might be able to use an alternative number (also listed on the IRAM website above) to reach the Operator: +34 958 695 476. If this number were to fail, Skype would be the last resort for communication (see the "Voice/Video/Chat communication" section below).
Required Installation at Remote Observer's Site
You should have a
your computer system
preferred operating system Linux but MS-Windows and MacOS are also supported
VNC viewer software, ex: www.realvnc.com
ssh-type software to log into mrt-enter.iram.es
It would also be helpful to have:
a larger display (>=19")
a telephone, with outside access
Test Remote Observing Before the First Session
Please check remote observing before:
you should have received:
an e-mail that a computer account for your project has been created, normally format: xxx-yy
the password for this account (3...)
a copy of this User Guide
the password of account remote (a...)
send your Internet address to ncsOperation@iram.es, this allows us to put the address on a white-list to avoid to be blocks after login failures
ssh to <project-account>@mrt-enter.iram.es
check your home directory with pwd: it should be /mrt-lx3/vis/<project-account>
- check if you have access, e.g., with command ls -l
- note: you can actually work with your files directly on enter.iram.es
follow the instructions in the Short Guide to connect to the VNCs used for remote observing. Do this preferably during the telescope maintenance on Tuesday before your first observing session (after 12:30 until 16:00 LT).
- Please note that the VNCs are shared between remote observers.
When your project account (nnn-yy) is created you receive the account password via e-mail.
- Or ask the 30m operator for the passwords of your project (see contact phone numbers etc. below)
Remote observing also uses an account remote. To get the password, do:
slogin -X <projectId>@mrt-enter.iram.es # ccat /ncsServer/mrt/ncs/doc/remotePW.txt.cpt # decryption key: city in France where IRAM headquarter is located G...e
- If you observe from Internet (for observations from .iram.es see below):
- Open a local xterm on your computer
Start a VNC connection to run the Pako observing program opening a vncviewer to port 30 with command:
vncviewer -via email@example.com mrt-remote.iram.es:30
You will be asked twice for a password. Enter both times the remote account passwd (a...G)
Note: If your VNC viewer software does not support the via option available, use:
ssh -f -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 firstname.lastname@example.org sleep 300 vncviewer localhost:30
In case VNC:30 is currently used, use VNC:32 (or the other way around)
You can now start pako:
- open a terminal (xterm)
ssh <your project>@observe and enter the account password
Now you can start your observations by starting pako, see: Documentation
To monitor your observations: open a vncviewer to port 31 using command:
vncviewer -via email@example.com mrt-remote.iram.es:31Or, if you do not have the via option available, using commands:
ssh -f -L 5931:mrt-remote.iram.es:5931 firstname.lastname@example.org sleep 300 vncviewer localhost:31This will open the remote window where you can see the last pointing, focus and calibration results. You can adapt this display to your needs.
Please note: if somebody is doing remote observing, avoid moving the mouse inside the VNC area.
If you observe from the .iram.es local network:
execute the command given about without "-via email@example.com"
In order to communicate with the operator: see below #VoiceCommunication
Xephem, to open it: (needs to be checked)
- open a local xterm on your computer
ssh <your project>@mrt-enter.iram.es ! not needed if you are already at IRAM/Granada
ssh <your project>@projects.iram.es
useNCS; azElToXephem.py ! to show the position of the telescope
To close the vncviewer windows, click on the X in the upper right corner. Do not exit the VNCs as this will stop the server process.
This section explains in somewhat more detail than the "Short Guide" the basic tasks for remote observing.
- VNC: we use vnc software for remote observing. vnc allows to use virtual desktops that can be used in shared mode from a remote site and at the observatory. Ask the 30m operator for the access information. At the remote site, the VNC viewer software has to be installed.
- You will be asked to enter a password when connecting to a VNC. Ask the 30m operator for the password.
- mrt-remote:30 use it to specify your observations
- mrt-remote:31 use it do monitoring and other tasks
- mrt-remote:32 can be used for other tasks open to everybody
Please be aware: The VNCs might be viewed by somebody else. Do not reveal secret information. Please do not "log out" sessions on VNC. We have predefined desktops for monitoring and observing. The desktops are best
seen with >=19" monitors. The resolution of the desktops is 1200x920 (except mrt-remote:32) and work well with local displays with 1280x1024 resolution.
Monitoring the IRAM 30-meter telescope
VNC mrt-remote:31 : this VNC can be used by the remote observer to monitor observations and to do other tasks. You can
- ask the 30m operator to reset this VNC to it's standard view or
start a standard monitoring script here by entering ./goMrtMonitor31 in the home directory.
- The remote observer can adapt this VNC to his specific needs.
See also file ReadMe.txt by clicking on the corresponding icon in the VNCs.
Observing with the 30m
- via VNC:
connect to mrt-remote:30 with vncviewer mrt-remote.iram.es:30
follow the observer guide [OperationNotesObserversPako] using the steps indicated below NOTE.
You might use pakitoDisplay rather that pakoDisplay as the virtual desktop is smaller than the local desktops used at the 30m.
- The astronomer on duty or the operator might also use this virtual desktop.
- Other users might also connect to the desktop and see what you are doing. You can also request a private virtual desktop for a remote observing session. Get into contact with the IRAM computer group.
- The desktop runs under user remote.
Synchronized local copy of spectraOdp.30m
- Granada: not needed for observation from Granada
Other sites: to be specified later for other sites (to be done)
you can use skype:
contact the telescope operator, skype name mrt-iram.es
contact the AOD, skype name aod-iram.es
in case you do not have a skype account, you can use observer-iram.es, the password is the same as the remote account (see short guide)
use the chat window chatMRT (window title: Send message to chatMrt), command: goChatroom chatMRT
phone: dial +34 958 482002 or ...2009 (or 5050 from IRAM,Granada)
see also NcsUG#skype
Notes for Users
When you finish a remote observing session, close all windows, in particular editors,... as the VNC might be used by somebody else.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I access documentation ?
IRAM web pages open to the public: http://www.iram-institute.org/
Which equipment do I need ?
We recommend the following equipment to be available at the place you plan to do the remote observation from:
your computer should:
have one or more large monitors. Note that we use VNCs with "geometry" 1200x920. Your monitor should have at least that resolution !
have VNC software (client) installed, our servers run software from http://www.realvnc.com
have access to Internet (of course) and have an ssh (slogin) program installed
you can also use x2go, we have a server on mrt-enter.iram.es
you should also
have a telephone to call the IRAM 30m observatory and can be reachable directly by the operator
you might also use skype, call mrt-iram.es
a printer can be helpful
have (print)-copies of the main user guides
Please check the rest of this document for more information.
Which account can I use ?
We create an account for each project, typically of name nnn-yy, example 012-09, normally about a week before the observation start.
What is my password ?
Passwords are sent to the PI. Otherwise, call the 30m operator to ask for the password.
Where are the project files ?
The files of a project account are on projects.iram.es:/vis/<project>, independent of the computer you log into. (projects is alias for mrt-lx3.)
How can I connect remotely ?
You can log into your account with slogin/sftp <account>@mrt-enter.iram.es . From there you can connect to other computers, see below.
Note: after three login failures, your host address will be blocked. If you inform us via ncsOperation@iram.es from where (Internet address or range and name) you connect we will put you on a whitelist.
Do you (at IRAM) have to know where the observation is done from ?
If we know the Internet name and address we can configure our system such that
- logins are not blocked after three login failures
you can access the 30m technical documentation on https://mrt-lx1.iram.es/mainWiki
Which computer can I use ?
connection from outside: enter.iram.es
data analysis: mrt-astro.iram.es
How can I get my data back home ?
for a small amount of data (<10GB) you might transfer it via Internet. Please note that our Internet link has a capacity of 100Mb/s or about 30GB/hr. However, it is a shared medium and should not be blocked by the transfer. Check if you can limit the bandwidth you use, e.g., with rsyn, option --bwlimit 1000 (1MB/s) . Contact ncsOperation@iram.es for help.
fill out the form https://mrt-lx1.iram.es/mainWiki/VisitorBackupForm to receive DVDs with post and send it to ncsOperation@iram.es
What can I do if the Internet connection is lost ?
We have prepared an alternative access using a commercial FTTH (Fibre To The Home) line. This access is independent of the European academic network and, as such, might not be as reliable. It is meant as an emergency access only.
Open two terminals on your local computer. On one, create an SSH tunnel through DSL/FTTH (you will be prompted for the remote user password):
ssh -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 firstname.lastname@example.org
In the other terminal:
You should now be able to use pako and all other software to carry out observations.
Please note that some VNC clients (especially on Mac or Windows systems) require specifying the full port number instead of the more standard shortcut above (i.e. 30). In those cases, please use port 5930 instead of 30 in the second terminal:
If you want to monitor observations, you will need two extra terminals on your local computer (please avoid opening this second tunnel is the connection is slow). In one terminal (you will be prompted for the remote user password):
ssh -L 5931:mrt-remote.iram.es:5931 email@example.com
In the other terminal:
The same comment on port numbers above applies here as well. In case your VNC client does not understand 31 as a shortcut for the full port, please use 5931:
In all cases, you might have to replace the vncviewer command with whatever is appropriate to start a VNC client on your local system.
You may even use yet another alternative access replacing mrt-ftth.iram.es with gra-ftth.iram.es. However this second access point will be slower.
You should also contact the 30m operator and check if somebody could do the observation for you. Important: prepare your observation in your project account in advance. (macros, catalogs,...)
Somebody seems to do remote observing already
Remote observers share VNCs (mrt-remote:30,31,32) and you might find that the VNC is currently used by somebody else. For Pako, we suggest to use mrt-remote:30 or :32. Check if there is a free VNC. In case of problem, contact the 30m operator or ncsOperation@iram.es
The VNCs are too large for my screen, what can I do ?
The VNCs use a geometry of 1200x900 pixel and we recommend 24in monitors. If you monitor is too small, either
- get a large screen (recommended)
get in contact with ncsOperation@iram.es to have a VNC with less resolution
- use scrolling
I have a Mac. What are the changes relative to what was said above ?
Kindly provided by S.Maret .
- In a Terminal, run the following command:
ssh -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 -L 5931:mrt-remote.iram.es:5931 firstname.lastname@example.org
- As the password to the operator, leave this terminal opened.
In the Finder menu, choose Go > Connect to server (or type "command-K") and then enter the following address:
A "mrtObserver" opens up; use this window to run PaKo.
- Same thing with the following address
This opens the "mrtMonitor" window that displays the various monitors (AntennaDataStream + browser with the last scans).
- If one of the two VNC window freezes: check in the Terminal that the SSH connection is still active, and restart it if need. Then close the VNC window and open it again.
The VNC freezes when the mouse pointer is in the Xterm window (in which Pako runs) and when typing something on the keyboard. If one leaves the mouse pointer outside the window, then the VNC does not freeze at all. <SM, 25-Jun-2013>
- In a Terminal, run the following command:
MIRA and CLASS (this is not specific to MacOS)
- For this I prefer using SSH (with X11 forwarding) rather than VNC, because VNC is sometimes not very responsive. The data are visible on mrt-enter, so we can use this machine for data reduction:
- In a terminal type:
ssh -Y PROJECT@mrt-enter.iram.es(replace PROJECT by your project number, and type your password, and then type mira)
- Do the same for starting class.
- XEphem (this is not specific to MacOS)
- This is only installed on projects.iram.es and mrt-enter.iram.es, so we need to connect to this one (through enter.iram.es)
- In a Terminal, type:
ssh -t -Y PROJECT@mrt-enter.iram.es ssh projects xephem
Some more detailed background information
- As you know you can open the "Terminal" app to run commands, instead of xterm. The ssh commands above should work in your terminal with no problems, but the VNC has another format:
open vnc://<remote host>:59<VNC port>Therefore if you want to run the following command:
vncviewer mrt-remote:30at your Mac Terminal you just have to write:
open vnc://mrt-remote:5930And again another more complex example:
ssh -f -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 email@example.com sleep 300 vncviewer localhost:30would be:
ssh -f -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 firstname.lastname@example.org sleep 300 open vnc://localhost:5930In case the last example does not work, issue the following commands in two different terminals:
ssh -L 5930:mrt-remote.iram.es:5930 email@example.com open vnc://localhost:5930
Installation needed at the remote observer's home site
- The following software should be installed at a remote site:
VNC viewer : see http://gra-lx1.iram.es/mainWiki/VirtualNetworkComputing for our installation
- slogin or similar tool
for skype: see http://www.skype.com (not essential)
leave a pdf version in /ncsServer/mrt/ncs/doc/RemoteObservingUG.pdf (https://mrt-lx1.iram.es/ncs/doc/RemoteObservingUG.pdf)
- to create a pdf file, click on the "Print View" at the top of the page and print the document as a file choosing the PDF format.
leave a printed copy in the Granada remote observing office
- 13-01-19 wb: reorganized documentation of remote observing. This page is now RemoteObservingUG (User Guide). Information for the operator is now in RemoteObservingOG and technical information in remoteObservingTG
related pages: RemoteObservingDocSet