POEM Instructions


The Paranal Observatory Eavesdropping Mode (POEM) is a web-based application for viewing panels on approved instruments on Paranal. The focus is on the ease of use, confidentiality, and security. As it is entirely web based, no software installation is necessary, apart from a modern, up-to-date browser. Note that POEM only offers viewing function -- no mouse control is allowed to the remote panels. You will be expected to edit, modify and queue your OBs in parallel with the p2 tool.


  • A modern browser like Firefox or Chrome. There has been issues reported with Safari.
  • A reliable internet connection. POEM has been tested with an average home connection. However, to prevent intermittent dropouts, it is advisable to use a cable connection.

User credentials

Your username and initial password will be given by Paranal staff before your observations; these are different from those for the User Portal. The first time you log in, you will be asked to change the password (under username - settings - Preferences).  

Your POEM account is set up for the approved date and time of the observations. A message "This user account is not currently valid." will appear if you try to enter outside the approved period. The account is usually enabled a few hours before your observations, so you can test the connection with Paranal staff beforehand, if necessary.

POEM access is normally for single nights only -- your account will be disabled afterwards. If you have observations on non-consecutive nights, the account will need to be re-enabled separately for each night. If you have no further approved observations until the end of the period, your account will be deleted.

Access rules

Apart from the web authentication, the access is controlled at all times by the Paranal operator. In order to view the relevant panels, a "door" needs to be opened on the Paranal side.

As a security measure, once you have terminated the connection, the "door" on the Paranal side will shut automatically. Re-entry is only possible when the operator reopens the door (which will take a few seconds).

One observer is allowed connection at any one time. An error message will appear if you try to connect to an already occupied instrument.

All user activities (entry time, instrument and IP address) are logged. Unauthorised access or suspicious activities will be reported.


  • Establish a voice/video contact with the operator, e.g. via skype.
  • When ready, the operator will enable the connection from the Paranal side, and signal you to enter.
  • Log into POEM with your credentials.
  • You will be presented with a list of telescope/instruments. Click on the approved instrument. Your session will start after a few seconds.
    • You may find that the mouse pointer will disappear when moved inside the viewing area. This is a normal behaviour.
    • Currently the right hand screen of the instrument workstation is offered. If you want to view certain panels, ask the operator to drag them into the viewing area.
  • The keystrokes CTRL-ALT-SHIFT will present you with a menu:
    • “username - home" will get you back to the home screen (but the connection is not cut)
    • “username - disconnect” will terminate the remote connection
    • There are also options for zooming in or out.
  • Once disconnected, or if you experience dropouts, the "door" on Paranal will shut automatically. If you try to connect again, a message will appear ("Connection Error. The remote desktop server encountered an error and has closed the connection"). You will need to tell the operator to re-enable the connection on their side again. 


  • If you experience unknown issues, try restarting your browser
  • If you have an observing run with mutiple nights, send a reminder to the Science Operations Shift Coordinator (sciops-dsc@eso.org) to re-enable the account before your next night.