Browse Open Jobs | Search Open Jobs | Edit Your Profile | View Submitted Applications

Job Details

Requisition Number 18-0003
Post Date 1/5/2018
Title Science Operations Specialist
City Boulder
State CO

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates several observatory centers (including the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Solar Observatory (NSO), Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation.

The National Solar Observatory (NSO) is currently seeking to fill a Science Operations Specialist position within the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) program. The DKIST is under construction on Maui, Hawaii on the summit of Haleakala. Organizationally, staff are located at the National Solar Observatory headquarters, housed on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado, co-located with the National Optical Astronomy Observatories at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and in offices in Maui.

A Science Operations Specialist performs a number of essential duties in science operations, including the following: operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during regular day-time operations. On occasions, it will be required to support night-time science and/or engineering functions; in close collaboration with science staff performs service mode observing; assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems; performs initial quality assessment and assurance of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.

Initially, the Science Operations Specialist will undergo training on DKIST systems in Boulder and on Maui. The position will fully transition to supporting the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) science operations and is required to relocate to Maui in 2019. The successful candidate is required to participate in the DKIST telescope and instrument systems efforts by providing feedback from the user’s perspective, perform beta testing of, e.g., software systems, participate in training and gain proficiency of relevant DKIST operations systems.

Essential Functions:

  • Operate, support, and troubleshoot telescope systems and instrumentation.
  • Assist with set up of astronomical instruments used on the telescope.
  • Assist astronomers and staff with observation execution and data collection for both scientific and engineering use.
  • Monitor the flow of astronomical and ancillary data from the science instruments.
  • Operate the local data archive/backup system.
  • Be responsible for safety of personnel and equipment while on duty at the DST.
  • Verify daily weather conditions and, when the conditions do not allow for observations to occur, lead the work to close and protect the installations in the summit.
  • Report system errors or maintenance needs.
  • Maintain Telescope Operators logs and reports.
  • Help update instrumentation and telescope control user guides and web pages.
  • Provide end-user support for questions regarding observations and data.
  • Participate in DKIST hardware and software commissioning and testing.


  • Ability to understand the principles and functions of astronomical telescopes and instruments and observational data.
  • After a period of training must achieve proficiency in operating observatory systems (DST and DKIST) and instruments, including computer systems, software tools, communication systems, and some facility systems.
  • Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed.
  • Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly.
  • 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.
  • Must be able to handle multiple priorities under a high-level of pressure.
  • A bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or related field is required.
  • University Degree or equivalent can be partially satisfied with comparable work experience.

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • A degree in Physics and/or Astronomy is desirable.
  • Familiarity with common astronomical terminology and intermediate level knowledge of astronomy.
  • Ability to learn optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy observing and data processing techniques.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Unix-based operating systems.
  • Experience in ground-based observing, or similar observing experience.
  • IDL or similar programming experience.

Please list 3 professional references in your application and attach a CV or resume (PDF files preferred) and cover letter to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: 18-0003LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

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 does 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 recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

  • Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided by OFCCP here.
  • The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor's legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)
Apply On-line
Send This Job to a Friend