Astronomical Observing Assistant

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, July 3, 2021
Archive Date: 
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
W. M. Keck Observatory
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

W.M. Keck Observatory in Kamuela, HI is looking to hire an Astronomical Observing Assistant. Do you have a background in physical science or experience at an observatory? Would you like the opportunity to work closely with astronomers in helping them gather their data? Do you like to have regular long stretches of time off? Would you like to join a team that takes care of its employees? If so, please keep reading!


As an Astronomical Observing Assistant, you have a mission-critical role in making nights of science take place. To prepare for observing, you help configure the facility, telescope, and related equipment at the summit. You operate the telescope and other equipment support for the visiting astronomers, helping them to meet their science goals through optimal use of the facility. In addition to ensuring the safety of the personnel and equipment, you efficiently take data throughout the night. If any software problems occur, you troubleshoot to resolve them. You drive our vehicles to carry staff and self to and from the observatory in a safe manner.

To ensure that persons and equipment are not placed in jeopardy, you terminate the observing session if conditions warrant. During the day, you help with processing instrument and optical test data, software development, and developing documentation. In order to better support

astronomers in the absence of a support astronomer or instrument scientist, you train in the operation of the scientific instruments. You also participate in training new observing assistants. For some meetings and training, you go out to our headquarters in Waimea. You find working with astronomers on the frontlines of science to be educational and exciting!


  • Bachelor's degree in a physical science field OR two years of experience at an astronomical observatory
  • Ability to work nights at a high altitude of 14,000 feet
  • Computer literacy
  • Valid driver’s license and a good driving record
  • Ability to be away from home for the time that you are on duty

Knowledge about astronomy and astronomical observing procedures is preferred but multiple factors will be taken into consideration. Any mechanical or electronic skills would be a plus! Are you attentive to safety and security? Do you have good interpersonal and communication skills? Are you open to the ideas and thoughts of others? Do you have effective collaborative and relationship-building skills? Are you a motivated self-starter who can effectively prioritize multiple tasks? Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment? Are you respectful, considerate, professional, and tactful? Do you accept responsibility for your own actions and remain calm when under pressure? If so, you might just be perfect for this Astronomical Observing Assistant!


This full-time position generally works 5 nights on, followed by 7 days off. Remaining in residence at the mid-level facility at 9,500 feet is required during the time on duty. Meetings are held on a bi-weekly basis.

Included Benefits: 

This position earns a competitive salary with lots of room for growth. We also provide great benefits and perks, including 4 weeks of annual paid vacation, 100%-paid employee health insurance, a 403(b) plan, a highly regarded tuition assistance program for dependent children (K-12 grade), and an unmatched focus on excellence. If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, apply today!

Application Deadline: 
Monday, November 1, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, November 1, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Jeannette Mundon
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Jeannette Mundon
Observing Assistant Position