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A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position.

Job Summary

The Department of Astronomy at the University of Michigan announces an opening for a Research Associate with assignment as a proxy observer at the MDM Consortium at Kitt Peak, AZ.


Primary Duties include:

  • Execute designated experiments; participate in the design and development of data analysis procedures, Operate the MDM 2.4 telescope and OSMOS instrument to obtain astronomical data for consortium members, Ensure telescope is operated safely in accordance with weather limits, Open and close telescope as needed, and top off detector coolants, If the 1.3m telescope is used remotely, open, close and fill detectors as needed, Select program targets appropriate for weather conditions, Acquire targets accurately and configure instrument to observer specs, Maintain logs adequate to assess data quality, Perform quicklook reductions to ensure quality, Alert observers when observations have been obtained, Optionally, perform pipeline reductions during down time.
  • Prepare reports or data presentations: Delivery of high-quality, well-documented data to the MDM observer community, Complete, up-to-date, and easy-to-follow documentation for visiting observers.
  • Managing and running the MDM Proxy Queue observing blocks. These occur currently roughly 7 to 8 nights per month, with potential to increase to around 10 nights per month. Requires coordinating with astronomers affiliated across all five consortium member institutions to acquire and prioritize targets for nightly observations on the Hiltner 2.4m telescope. Quicklook data reduction is performed to ensure quality data are being taken as well. This task is performed independently during nighttime hours.

Additional Duties may include:

  • Assistance with facilities operations roles on an “as-needed” basis. Assist daytime staff at MDM Observatory as needed. Examples are assisting with duties such as instrument changes and planned upgrades of equipment such as the mirror cooling system for the 2.4m primary mirror. Other future projects requiring assistance are the mirror re-aluminization projects. 
  • Assistance with updating technical documentation associated with facility operations.  With the Telescope Control System (TCS) for the 2.4m telescope recently being upgraded, documentation related to operating this telescope has moved from being outdated to being obsolete. Position will allow opportunity to assist with updating this documentation, as well as updating other telescope- and instrument-related documentation over time.

Required Qualifications*

The position involves traveling to various locations at the Observatory at Kitt Peak, AZ and around the surrounding area; ascending and descending ladders up to 5 feet high to operate the telescope; and periods of working alone for 48 hours at a time and in an isolated setting at night. The work site is at an elevation of 7000 feet. Graduation from a college or university with one year relevant experience, familiarity with basic astronomy concepts,  some familiarity with software and programming, experience working in a laboratory or observatory setting, and good communication skills are needed.  A valid driver's license is required.

Desired Qualifications*

A bachelor’s degree in Astronomy or related field is highly preferred. Ideal candidates will have previous observatory work experience.

Work Locations

Position is located at the MDM Consortium at Kitt Peak, AZ.

Additional Information

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitments to serve the diverse people of Michigan, fulfill the College’s Guiding Principles, and sustain the excellence of LSA.  

Additional Information

This position will be at 80% effort, or 32 hours per week, and the listed salary reflects the equivalent annualized full time rate for this position.

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks.  Background checks will be performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.  The University of Michigan is committed to foster learning, creativity and productivity, and to support the vigorous exchange of ideas and information, not only in the classroom but in the workplace by: 

  • Creating a work environment in which people treat each other with respect and dignity, regardless of roles, responsibilities or differences. 
  • Providing support, direction and resources enabling us to accomplish the responsibilities of our jobs and to reach the goals that are set for professional and personal growth.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days.  This job may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.