Science Operations Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Archive Date: 
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The International Gemini Observatory is seeking a SCIENCE OPERATIONS SPECIALIST. The Observatory operates two world-class, optical-infrared, 8m-class telescopes in Hawaii and in Chile. Gemini is managed as a partnership between the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, with participation of Korea and Australia. Gemini is the leading large Observatory for time-domain astronomy, and strives to be the best observatory in the world for the execution of flexible, innovative, and efficient science programs.

A Science Operations Specialist (SOS) position is available at Gemini North (Hawaii). An SOS is a member of the Science Operations team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory’s operation. The tasks fall in four main areas: (1) Telescope operation, (2) Queue observing, (3) Daytime quality assessment, instrument calibration and software testing and (4) Project Work: specialized work in line with observatory goals and mission; assigned by management. This position does not include research.

The SOS core job duties include the following:

  • Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
  • Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems when in non-queue mode.
  • Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
  • Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals
  • Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments.

Job Specifications:

  • Must be able to understand the principles and functions of astronomical telescopes and instruments and observational data.
  • Must become proficient in operating observatory systems and instruments, including computer systems, software tools, communication systems, and facility systems (air handling units, dome enclosure etc.).
  • Must be prepared to be responsible for the safety of people and equipment (appropriate training will be provided).
  • Must be willing to spend 5-10 nights per month on night-duty, occasionally at high altitude.
  • Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.
  • Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly. Must be fluent in English.
  • Must be reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
  • Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
  • Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
  • Ability to work productively in a multinational team.

Required Education/ Experience/ Skills/ Abilities:
A Master’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or closely related field is required.  At the discretion of the Associate Director of Science Operations, exceptional work experience may substitute for a science or engineering degree.

At least three years of hands-on experience in at least one of the following areas is required:

  • operation of a ground-based telescope
  • optical and/or infrared observing techniques
  • data reduction and analysis of optical and/or infrared ground based data
  • astronomical instruments

Familiarity with common astronomical terminology and intermediate level knowledge of astronomy research fields, types of astronomical objects etc. is required. Ability to learn optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy observing and data processing techniques is required. Knowledge and familiarity with Unix-based operating systems, e.g. Linux and Mac OS X is required.

Preferred Education/ Experience/ Skills/ Abilities:

  • Three or more years experience in ground-based observing, or similar observing experience involving major astronomical instrumentation
  • UNIX, C, Python, IDL, Java and/or Perl software programming experience
  • Knowledge of the IRAF or PyRAF environment

For further information about the position, contact SOS-N Group Manager, Jesse Ball (  To apply, submit a Cover Letter, Resume and three professional references. Using the electronic application procedure for Gemini positions, upload one PDF file containing all required information. Incomplete applications will not be considered.       

Position will remain open until filled.

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 and all of the centers, do 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 record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.


Included Benefits: 

Gemini Observatory offers a competitive compensation and benefits and relocation package, promotes continued education and career growth and cultivates a dynamic and diverse working environment.

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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