Atmosphere Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Monday, October 28, 2019
Archive Date: 
Monday, December 23, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Institution Classification/Type: 
European Southern Observatory
Street Line 1: 
Alonso de Cordova 3107
Street Line 2: 
Vitacura, Santiago
Region Metropolitana
Job Announcement Text: 

The European Southern Observatory is opening the following position at Paranal, Chile:

Atmosphere Scientist

(Career Path V)


Paranal Staff have the opportunity and challenge to contribute to the operation of the world leading astronomical facility and optimize its scientific output.

Key tasks of the Atmosphere Scientist are to:

  • maximise the knowledge and understanding of current and forecast atmospheric conditions at ESO observatories including the future ELT
  • ensure that this knowledge is used in the best possible way to optimize the scientific output of the Observatory

This is a new position, so some flexibility exists to shape duties and responsibilities according to personal expertise and interests.


Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will:

  • Coordinate the activities of the astrometeorology group within the Paranal Science Operations department, which focuses on project development in the following areas:
    • Use currently measured atmospheric parameters to optimize VLT observing efficiency
    • Include new Astronomical Site Monitor (ASM) infrastructure to the site, in order to improve measurement accuracy of relevant parameters or include new parameters
    • Forecast atmospheric conditions, including but not limited to parameters most relevant to ELT
    • Ensure smooth operational implementation of new developments, with the goal to optimize the scientific output of the Observatory
  • Chair the Astronomical Site Monitor (ASM) System Operations Team whose responsibilities are to:
    • Ensure adequate description of the environmental conditions at Paranal (and later ELT) via the ASM
    • Ensure adequate quality of the data provided by the ASM
    • Ensure proper archival and database ingestion of the data provided by the ASM
    • Define maintenance/calibration plan for the ASM instruments.
  • Work in close collaboration with partners across the Organization to maintain and develop state-of-the-art ASM infrastructure and tools.
  • Participate to regular science operations support, at a level compatible with the above-mentioned tasks, to:
    • understand science operations requirements regarding atmospheric monitoring and
    • train staff on adequate usage and background of atmospheric monitoring

Depending on expertise and preference, the selected candidate may

  • Be appointed at the Scientist level.
    • In this case, the equivalent of up to 135 nights per year are spent on functional duties (generally on-site, and off-site if required). The rest of the time is available for research according to personal preference.
  • Become a member of the ESO Science Faculty, with an appointment at the level of Assistant or Associate Astronomer.
    • S/he will then be expected and encouraged to actively conduct astronomical research and be evaluated on the personal research in addition to the functional work. In this case, the equivalent of up to 105 nights per year are spent on functional duties (generally on-site, and off-site if required). The rest of the time is spent on scientific research in the ESO office in Santiago.

The ideal candidate will be a scientist with a very good understanding of atmosphere physics, pertinent experience in managing and/or developing atmospheric monitoring facilities for large Observatories, and involvement in astronomical research.

We are seeking a Ph.D. in Astronomy, Physics or equivalent, with a strong background in state-of-the-art astronomical site monitoring techniques relevant to Paranal Observatory, and a solid involvement in astronomical research.

Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter, a research statement and a CV (with list of publications). The position requires three letters of reference to be sent to

For more information and on-line applications go to and visit the public web page of Paranal Science Operations

Closing date is 15 December 2019


Application Deadline: 
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Head of Paranal Science Operations
Atmosphere Scientist
European Southern Observatory
Department Name: 
Science Operations
Street Line 1: 
Alonso de Cordova 3107
Street Line 2: 
Vitacura, Santiago
Zip/Postal Code: