The SAAO is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in picturesque Cape Town with a Mediterranean climate, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the semi-arid Northern Cape. Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs about 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate the 10-m Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. SAAO is the premier optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, contributing to SET human capital development for South Africa. Research focus areas include extragalactic astronomy, time domain astrophysics, planetary astronomy and instrumentation development.
SALT Astronomers (SAs) are based in Cape Town, but will be expected to regularly conduct service observing (about one week in six) on the queue-scheduled SALT. Other duties consist of preparing and scheduling of observations on behalf of the SALT users, liaising with users, performing and managing pipeline data reductions, writing and developing software, and depending on background, serving as an instrument scientist. A generous amount of personal research time and resources, using SALT and other SAAO facilities, will also be available. SALT astronomers work within the SAAO science staff structure.
At this time we are specifically looking for an SA with demonstrated experience in precision radial velocity astronomy, exoplanet work in particular, for which one of the main SALT instruments the High Resolution Spectrograph HRS is suitable. Alternatively, we are seeking an SA with demonstrated experience in NIR spectroscopy using fibers or IFUs, as SALT is expecting a Near Infrared (NIR) spectrograph to arrive in late 2019. We are looking for leadership at SAAO in one or both of these two science areas.
- PhD in Astronomy.
- 3 years postdoctoral experience in optical observational astronomy and data reduction.
- Experience in precision radial velocity work Echellé spectroscopy and/or NIR spectroscopy with fibers or IFUs will be preferred. However, applicants with other observational backgrounds relevant to SALT will also be considered.
Desirable Work Experience
- Instrumental development expertise, and/or software development experience, such as data pipelines or web-based software, would be an advantage.
The position will initially be for a period of three years, with the possibility of an extension. The salary package will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Applicants should send a cover letter, CV, and arrrange for three letters of reference to the SAAO HR Manager, Linda Tobin (firstname.lastname@example.org), with copy to Dr. Petri Vaisanen (email@example.com).