Remote Observing with the IRAM 30-meter telescope - User Guide

About this page

This page explains how 30m observers can observe from their home institutes or from the 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:

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

It would also be helpful to have:

Test Remote Observing Before the First Session

Please check remote observing before:

Short Guide

slogin -X <projectId>
ccat /ncsServer/mrt/ncs/doc/remotePW.txt.cpt
# decryption key: city in France where IRAM headquarter is located G...e

More Information

This section explains in somewhat more detail than the "Short Guide" the basic tasks for remote observing.

VNC services

Monitoring the IRAM 30-meter telescope

Observing with the 30m

Synchronized local copy of spectraOdp.30m

Voice/Video/Chat communication

Notes for Users

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I access documentation ?

Which equipment do I need ?

We recommend the following equipment to be available at the place you plan to do the remote observation from:

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<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> . 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 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

Which computer can I use ?

How can I get my data back home ?

You can:

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

In the other terminal:

 vncviewer localhost:30

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:

 vncviewer localhost:5930

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

In the other terminal:

 vncviewer localhost:31

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:

 vncviewer localhost: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 with 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

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

I have a Mac. What are the changes relative to what was said above ?


Kindly provided by S.Maret .

Some more detailed background information

Installation needed at the remote observer's home site

Document Notes

RemoteObserving (last edited 2018-07-12 08:17:08 by FrancescoPierfederici)