Astronomy Outreach Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates several observatory centers (including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) invites applications for an Astronomy Outreach Specialist to join the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team. The goal of LSST EPO is to provide worldwide access to a subset of LSST data through accessible and engaging online experiences so anyone can explore the universe and be part of the discovery process.

About us:

LSST is a large aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope designed to survey the entire southern sky down to faint magnitudes in six optical colors every few nights. It will enable a broad array of scientific investigations ranging from studies of moving objects in the solar system to constraining the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole. Through a visionary EPO program, non-specialists will have access to huge amounts of astronomical data as never before.

Formal construction of this world-leading survey facility began in August of 2014 as a joint project of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Construction includes the design, development, and evaluation of LSST EPO infrastructure, tools, and educational materials to be delivered with the LSST Observatory at the start of Science Operations in late 2022.

The LSST EPO Team is developing a variety of resources and online tools that allow the world to explore and engage with LSST astronomical data. The EPO Portal is the online connection to this programming. Examples of EPO deliverables include an interactive Skyviewer for exploration of the night sky observed by LSST, citizen science projects using LSST data, and a suite of online science notebook activities that not only allow educators to bring real astronomical data into their classrooms without having to install software, but also allow anyone access to LSST data.

About you:

You will contribute to LSST EPO’s mission by bringing astronomical expertise and science communication experience to the team. You will contribute to all aspects of the Portal and the overall EPO program by participating in the design of Jupyter notebooks that describe relevant astronomical concepts, contributing to written features throughout the Portal’s Skyviewer and science content pages, and assuring the scientific validity of EPO deliverables. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Support producing creative educational investigations that use real LSST data
  • Curate content for the EPO Portal based on the main science themes of LSST
  • Identify opportunities for new uses of LSST data
  • Support EPO’s engagement with the LSST Science Community
  • Assist with production of multimedia content
  • Work with the Head of EPO to form and maintain strategic partnerships with organizations serving underserved/underrepresented groups in STEM

You will report to the LSST Head of EPO and collaborate with the entire EPO Team, the LSST Data Management Team, and the LSST Science Community. This full-time position is based in Tucson, Arizona (assistance with relocation expenses is provided).

Basic Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree or PhD in physics or astronomy
  • Experience working with astronomical imaging and data visualization
  • Astronomy coding experience
  • Strong written communication and documentation skills
  • Willingness to travel occasionally and present to technical and non-technical audiences
  • Interaction using a variety of technologies including email, phone calls, instant messaging, videoconferencing
  • Passion for astronomy, science communication, outreach, and education

Preferred Qualifications:

  • At least 2-5 years of relevant experience in science communication and outreach
  • Evidence of expertise working with optical astronomy data; this might include astronomical observing, writing data reduction pipelines, and image data processing
  • Familiarity with large catalog databases
  • Experience working in formal and/or informal education settings
  • Familiarity with Python and Jupyter notebooks
  • Multi-lingual (especially Spanish) is a plus, but not required


The position will remain open until filled, but applications received by December 1, 2017 will be given priority.

Please contact Dr Amanda Bauer, LSST Head of Education and Public Outreach, with any questions about this position [email protected].


AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

Included Benefits: 

Starting salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Friday, December 1, 2017
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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