Title: More Bang for the Buck: Lessons Learned from Remote Observing at the W. M. Keck Observatory
Authors: Gregory D. Wirth, Robert I. Kibrick, James E. Lyke, Jeff A. Mader, Robert W. Goodrich
Institute/Affiliation: W. M. Keck Observatory
Abstract Type: talk
Most astronomers love observing remotely because they can gather their data while avoiding the inconvenience of traveling to the telescope; however, running a true, facility-class remote observing system can impose a significant burden on the observatory support staff. Although usage of the remote observing capability at Hawaii\'s W. M. Keck Observatory has risen substantially in the nine years since we began allowing astronomers to observe from California and elsewhere, Keck\'s system has evolved over time to provide better operational performance with less manpower. This talk will describe improvements to our system in several key areas: scheduling remote observing requests; maintaining the virtual servers used by remote observers; monitoring the health and safety of equipment at remote observing stations; and abandoning the distinction between \"local\" and \"remote\" observing. These measures have substantially lessened the effort required to operate the system, provided new capabilities for training and troubleshooting by the technical staff, and enhanced the convenience and reliability of the system for observers and support staff at the remote sites.