Note: these instructions are for the VNC launch scripts in use prior to the release in 2020 of the new VNC launch software. Sites using the new software should see the Connection Instructions page.

This page describes the procedure observers should use to perform pre-run checkout of remote observing video and computer facilities prior to runs involving remote observing. These steps are only to be followed after the observer has submitted a request (see Keck Remote Observing Policy) via their observer login page for use of the remote observing facility and had it approved by the WMKO remote observing coordinator.


  1. Schedule checkout. Arrange a time with the site manager at your remote site to perform the checkout. If you're not sure who that person is, please contact your Support Astronomer to find out. The test can be completed any time within 5 calendar days of the run, but we strongly recommend doing it at least one business day prior to the run in order to provide adquate time for troubleshooting the connections. The VNC sessions are not typically started until 5 calendar days before your run, so if you need to perform the test further than 5 days before your run, please contact your support astronomer to have the VNC sessions launched early.

  2. Determine account. Consult the online Keck telescope schedule to determine what your assigned observing account is.

  3. Obtain passwords. Your local site manager can provide you with the required passwords for local hosts, Keck firewall, and Keck observing accounts.

  4. Test video conferencing. Make a test video connection to the appropriate Keck telescope. Keck now uses Zoom as its videoconferencing system, but you can call the Zoom meeting from a polycom unit if you are using polycom hardware. This is best done before 2pm Hawaiian Standard Time (corresponding to 5pm PDT or 4pm PST) to avoid interfering with observers performing afternoon setup. You may or may not see others in the Zoom meeting depending on when you call in and what activity is going on at Keck at the time.

  5. Test VNC. Log in to the appropriate remote observing computers at your site. Bring up the necessary VNC viewers using the appropriate local commands (typically kvncinst/kvnctel or kvncall) and verify that the sessions are “live” (i.e., you can access the background menu). Note: It is not appropriate to bring up the instrument user interface and perform any additional testing at this time, since this may interfere with summit operations. When you are finished, terminate the VNC viewers by performing Ctrl-C in the xterm window in which you typed the kvncinst/kvnctel/kvncall command.

  6. Report problems. In case any problems crop up, please immediately contact your assigned support astronomer (obtain name of SA from from the online Keck Observing schedule; corresponding telephone numbers should be posted in your observing area).

Zoom Connection Instructions

Keck (as of early 2019) uses Zoom as its videoconferencing system (replacing polycom). Keck has two Zoom meetings, one for Keck I and one for Keck II, which are used for night operations. The meeting information for these two rooms are printed to the terminal when you connect to the VNCs if you are using the modern remote observing software (v2.0 or newer). If you are using older software, your local site should have this information printed somewhere.

Polycom Calls

We still support calls to the Zoom meeting from older polycom hardware, so sites who still use polycom hardware are now placing calls to a Zoom meeting rather than to a Keck polycom unit. All supported remote sites should have the addresses saved in their polycom "favorties", but the connection process is described here in case of trouble.

If you are calling from polycom hardware there are two address formats which may work, they are [meeting_number]@[IP] and [IP]##[meeting_number]. Replace [meeting_number] and [IP] with the values for the meeting.

If neither works from your polycom, try dialing the IP address alone then entering the 10 digit meeting ID when prompted. Again, if you are calling from an established remote observing site, you should have "favorites" or "bookmarks" on your videoconferencing system which will connect you.