User Guides and Policies

Remote Observing at USRA

Scheduling your session

  • Contact the Keck observatory at least 4 weeks prior to your observation date. Please use the Keck Observer’s Login Page to request the use of the USRA Remote Observing Facility. Directions for requesting use can be found here: standard procedures for mainland observing. Keck staff will then contact the USRA RO coordinator and the Keck support astronomer to obtain approval.
  • If USRA ROC is available and your request is approved by Keck , you will be booked from 6pm ET (12n/1p HI time) until 1pm ET (7a/8a) the next day for each night of your observing run. You will receive an automatically generated E-mail informing you whether you have been approved for remote observing.
  • Visitors using the USRA ROC will be responsible for testing the Virtual Network Computer (VNC) and video systems before each observation; for first-time users an orientation is required during business hours (9a-5p ET M-F) prior to the use the USRA ROC.

Lodging and transportation

  • Please see the USRA-Keck ROC home page for information about lodging and transportation. You are responsible for making arrangements and for any expenses incurred during your stay. Click here for the list of hotels and resturants in the area .


  • Please plan to arrive at USRA Headquarters in Columbia during business hours (9a-5p ET) so that you can obtain a key card to access the center. This card must be returned to the drop box located by the main ROC door at the end of your observing run.
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Inclement weather

  • In the event of any inclement weather that would affect the ability to access our center safely you will need to contact the USRA Coordinator at to see what the operating conditions are.

During your run

  • Sign on to both the USRA ROC remote workstation and the Polycom system. Manuals for both of these are online and are also located in the ROC. You are responsible for transferring data from Hawaii to your local computer.

Food and other essentials

  • There is a kitchen/break room with a refrigerator, microwave, and Keurig coffee machine. For other food options, please see the USRA-Keck ROC home page. The USRA ROC has a wellness room that has a couch and two lay flat chairs as well as showers in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. There is wireless access for individuals using the center. Log out of all computer programs and end any videoconference calls. After using the center please clean up after yourself and turn off all lights. Return your keycard to the drop box by the USRA ROC door. Please make sure that the door is locked and secured when you exit the center. For any questions please email

Clean up, turn off lights and lock door