Telescope Operations Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Archive Date: 
Thursday, March 4, 2021
The upcoming date less then 1 day.
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Small Academic
New Mexico State University
Department Name: 
Astronomy/Apache Point Observatory
Street Line 3: 
2001 Apache Point Road
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

APACHE POINT OBSERVATORY 3.5m Telescope Operations Specialist. New Mexico State University is seeking a Telescope Operations Specialist for the ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory (APO) in Sunspot, New Mexico.  The Telescope Operations Specialist is responsible for safe and efficient operations of the ARC 3.5m Telescope.  APO is located in the Lincoln National Forest 16 miles from the village of Cloudcroft, NM.  The observatory sits on a ridge overlooking White Sands National Park, White Sands Missile Test Range and Alamogordo, NM.  With great seeing, dark skies, wide field optical/infrared imaging and spectroscopy.  Working at APO employees have the opportunity to lead/participate in research on the telescopes, tuition waivers to take classes at NMSU, or attend/present at conferences for professional development.

RESPONSIBILITIES. Telescope Operations Specialist (TOS) is responsible for nightly operation of the 3.5m telescope and instruments, monitoring the data streams, tracking system performance and observing efficiency. The TOS works closely with Astronomers and students, operating the telescope and instruments remotely, to efficiently take observations and debug issues. They work with other night staff to monitor the facility, weather and safe and proper operation of the telescopes. The selected candidate will perform setup/instrument preparations and calibrations, service observing and monitoring of remotely operated telescopes. Monitoring the performance of equipment and effectively communicating any problems with the day engineering and IT staff is required.

EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION. Candidates should have a minimum Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy or related field.  Desired experience includes: Understanding of astronomical coordinate systems and time keeping.  Prior experience operating telescopes and astronomical instrumentation.  Hands on experience operating small to medium (0.5m to 3.5m) telescopes and the associated mechanical and computer systems.  Proficiency in Unix/Linux and IRAF; a background in imaging and spectroscopic data reduction, as well as CCD instrumentation and electronics. Previous experience programming in one or more of the following programing languages applied to astronomical problems or data: IRAF, IDL, Python, C is desirable. Candidate must have a valid driving license.

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS. Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to 1) reach upward, sideways, downward; 2) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.

Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, horns or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.

Must be able – 1) to sit for long periods of time; 2) to drive on snow/ice covered roads and possess a clean driving record; 3) to climb stairs and maneuver heavy instruments on carts at 9100 feet elevation; 4) have an eye exam for laser safety.

Paper/email documents will not be accepted. Required documents (CV/Resume, 3 references, unofficial copy of transcripts) must be attached in the NMSU electronic application system at

Employment is contingent on funding and eligibility for employment in U.S. and results of a background verification.  Target start date is March 16, 2021.

NMSU is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

Included Benefits: 
Application Deadline: 
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Jamey Eriksen
Director of Operations, Apache Point Observatory
Apache Point Observatory
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Ofelia Acosta
Telescope Operations Specialist