Resident Astronomer at the Hobby Eberly Telescope

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Archive Date: 
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
Hobby Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory
Department Name: 
University of Texas at Austin
Street Line 1: 
82 Mt Locke Rd.
McDonald Observatory
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The University of Texas at Austin, McDonald Observatory invites applications for a Resident Astronomer for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in the beautiful Davis Mountains of west Texas. The HET is a fully queue scheduled 10-m class optical and near-IR spectroscopic telescope located 6,600 feet above sea level. The observing queue is run by the team of Resident Astronomers who serve as on-site observing specialists, generally each working about 7-10 nights per month. Currently the facility instruments include the Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS), the Low-Resolution Spectrograph 2 (LRS2), and the Habitable-zone Planet Finder Spectrograph (HPF). All together, this powerful suite of spectroscopic instruments on one of the world’s largest optical telescopes enables a diverse range of research possibilities.

The Resident Astronomer position includes up to 25% time for personal research and funds to support research (computing, travel, publications, etc).


Key responsibilities of the position include:

  • Leading nightly science observations safely and efficiently from sunset to sunrise.
  • Working with the HET partner scientists to verify the integrity and quality of the observations and help optimize the scientific productivity of the facility.
  • Working with instrument scientists and engineering staff to maintain and document the performance of the HET and its instruments.
  • Documenting the current status of science operations through wikis and web pages.
  • Conducting projects to characterize and/or improve science operations.
  • Up to 25% of the work hours are available to conduct personal research and to contribute to the scientific life at the observatory.


Required Qualifications

  • PhD in astronomy or physics, or equivalent.
  • Two years of instrumentation, observations, or data reduction experience with 1+m class telescopes collecting science-quality astronomical data.
  • Research experience in any area of observational astronomy.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work efficiently and productively with small teams (listen, seek clarification, and take feedback) during the time critical science operations.
  • At least two years of experience with a scientific programing language.

Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.


Preferred qualifications

  • Two years of experience with instrumentation or observations on 3+m class telescopes in optical and/or near infrared spectroscopy.
  • Postdoctoral research experience and/or strong track record of research output and publications.
  • Capacity to oversee software development related to data acquisition, reduction, and analysis.
  • Experience writing code in Python.
  • A strong demonstrated commitment to service astronomy.
  • Proven organizational, managerial, and leadership skills to fill in for the HET Science Operations Manager as needed, and/or to lead a small team on an improvement or characterization project.
  • Ability to conduct personal research projects with the HET or other McDonald telescopes.


This position requires working extended hours (sunset to sunrise) and on-call, may include working in all weather conditions and extreme temperatures, and requires walking outdoors at night and up/down stairs to access operational equipment. Full details and application link are available at

This position is security-sensitive, and a background check will be conducted. UT is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and committed to diversity.


Salary range: $65k+ depending on qualifications.


Review of applications will begin on March 31, 2020, and the search will continue until the position is filled.

Included Benefits: 

See  Includes financial support for research related travel, a research computer, and publication costs. May include on-site housing at McDonald Observatory.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Steven Janowiecki
HET Science Operations Manager
United States of America
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Steven Janowiecki
Resident Astronomer inquiry