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University of California Observatories: Support Astronomer for Lick Observatory (For full consideration, apply by 10/12/18)

Recruitment Period

Open date: August 10th, 2018
Last review date: Friday, Oct 12, 2018 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications received after this date will be reviewed by the search committee if the position has not yet been filled.
Final date: Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


The University of California Observatories (UCO, at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for a Support Astronomer for Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. UCO's mission is to provide UC astronomers with access to forefront optical and infrared observatories, to design and build advanced instrumentation for the Lick, Keck, and Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Observatories, and to provide an organization that can coordinate astronomy groups throughout the UC system in support of their ground-based observing. UCO is a multi-campus astronomical research unit of UC, with headquarters on the UCSC campus. UCO operates the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton and technical laboratories at UCSC and UCLA, and funds instrumentation-related activities around the UC system. UCO is a managing partner of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, and the focal point for UC participation in the TMT project.

Support Astronomer duties include:

  • Provide technical instrumentation instruction and scientific guidance on Lick instrumentation to observers, both on-site and remotely.
  • Nighttime systems operation (e.g. Adaptive Optics Support 50 - 80 nights per year).
  • Monitor, optimize, trouble-shoot, maintain, document and provide on-call recovery/repair of instrumentation. Night/evening on-call commitments: 37% - 44% of nights (variable due to demand for: instrument support; observer needs; engineering plans; event hosting). The remainder of time is spent on daytime support and conducting research (with encouragement to publish results).
  • Assist with development and commissioning of new equipment.
  • Successfully work with off-site support personnel (by phone or email).
  • Support ad-hoc observing programs and events upon request/delegation.
  • Conduct observatory tours and night time viewing.
  • Train students and scholars of all levels in observing fundamentals.
  • Organize and deliver observing workshops.
  • Effectively address the needs of client scientists (regardless of location) and visiting special interest groups.
  • Work safely with diverse populations of scientists, technicians and others to achieve research goals.

The position requires that the Support Astronomer reside in subsidized University housing at Mount Hamilton (a remote, rural environment and community) and possess (or readily obtain) a California driving license.

Applicants with any of the following qualifications are strongly encouraged to apply:

  • Experience of large telescope operation, including day and night observatory work.
  • Technical trouble-shooting skills and experience responding to time-critical issues and ad-hoc events.
  • Familiarity with widely-used scientific programming, interfacing or wrapping languages (e.g. C; Python; Tcl) and widely-used reduction packages (e.g. IRAF; Starlink; MVM; IDL/GDL).
  • Experience of performance monitoring and optimization of equipment and detectors.
  • Strong presentation, public speaking and media skills.
  • Experience training scientists to use instrumentation and supporting infrastructures.
  • Experience relating scientific concepts to audiences ranging from the general public to faculty, in both formal and informal settings.
  • Knowledge of constellations and sky lore, sufficient to guide a tour of the night sky.
  • A broad knowledge of (or ability to learn) astronomy, its history, and the contributions made by Lick Observatory and the University.
  • Appreciation for operating historically significant (equatorial) telescopes.
  • A doctorate degree in astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science, physics, or a related discipline.

Assistant Specialist – Specialist

Commensurate with qualifications and experience.


  • Master’s degree (or equivalent foreign degree) in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or related field at the time of application; or a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or related field plus two years’ experience with large telescope operations and/or observatory work.
  • A minimum of two years’ experience in research astronomy and/or instrumentation, using common observational techniques (e.g. calibration, adaptive optics, and spectroscopy), electronics, computer programming, data reduction, and using unix/linux-based platforms to collaboratively produce and maintain documentation in support of instrumentation and installations.

As soon as possible after initial review of the applications.

Initial appointment will be full‐time for two years with the possibility of reappointment. Should the hiring unit propose reappointment; a review to assess performance will be conducted. Reappointment is also contingent upon the availability of funding.

Applications are accepted via the UCSC Academic Recruit online system. All documents and materials must be submitted as PDFs.

Please refer to Position # JPF00614-19T in all correspondence.


  • Letter of application that briefly summarizes your qualifications and interest in the position (required)
  • A current CV with publication list (required)

Reference Requirement
Applications must include confidential letters of recommendation* (a minimum of 3 are required and a maximum of 5 will be accepted). Note that your references, or dossier service, will submit their confidential letters directly to the UC Recruit System.

*All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. For any reference letter provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service, career center), direct the author to UCSC’s confidentiality statement at

Full consideration will be given to applications completed by October 12, 2018. Applications received after this date will be considered only if the position has not been filled.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. UC Santa Cruz is committed to excellence through diversity and strives to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students and employees. Inquiries regarding the University’s equal employment opportunity policies may be directed to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 or by phone at (831) 459-2686.

Under Federal law, the University of California may employ only individuals who are legally able to work in the United States as established by providing documents as specified in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Certain UCSC positions funded by federal contracts or sub-contracts require the selected candidate to pass an E-Verify check (see More information is available at the APO website (see or call (831) 459-4300.

UCSC is a smoke & tobacco-free campus.

If you need accommodation due to a disability, please contact the Academic Personnel Office at (831) 459-4300.

Revised 9-13-18

Job location

Santa Clara


Document requirements
  • Cover Letter - Letter of application that briefly summarizes your qualifications and interest in the position

  • Curriculum Vitae - A current CV with publication list

Reference requirements
  • 3-5 letters of reference required