Resident Astronomer at the Hobby Eberly Telescope

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
To event remaining 29 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
University of Texas at Austin
Department Name: 
Hobby Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory
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, 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.


This permanent staff position as a Resident Astronomer includes up to 25% time for personal research, funds to support research (travel, publications, computing, etc), and access to request observing time with the telescopes on site.


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.

  • Contributing 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, take feedback, contribute to the success of the team) during the time critical science operations.

  • At least two years of experience with a scientific programming 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

On-site housing at McDonald Observatory may be available for this position.

Review of applications will begin on February 15, 2021, and the search will continue until the position is filled. The starting date is negotiable, but since the position is currently vacant an earlier date is preferred.

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: 
Monday, February 15, 2021
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
HET Resident Astronomer inquiry