Support Astronomer

1400 West Mars Hill Rd | Flagstaff, Arizona 86001-4499 | USA
928.774.3358 |



Support Astronomer

Lowell Observatory’s Support Astronomer (SA) will focus their efforts on tasks related to nighttime operations and observing at the 4.3-m Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT), located near Happy Jack, Arizona.  The SA is responsible for providing instrument and telescope support to Lowell and LDT Partner astronomers and telescope operations staff.  The SA will also work on other projects of their choice that are closely related to LDT and are of benefit Lowell Observatory: these may include telescope operations, instrument maintenance and development, or research support.  The SA works closely with the Observatory Operations Manager, Night Operations and Instrument Science staff, and other observatory teams.



The SA is expected to serve as the primary expert of the 4.3-meter LDT, including its instrumentation suite and subsystems (including the active optics system, as well as the guiding and wave front sensing systems).  The SA will maintain familiarity with telescope operations and with all of LDTs facility instruments, currently including the Large Monolithic Imager, the DeVeny Optical Spectrograph and the Near Infrared High Throughput Spectrograph. The SA will also become familiar with current and future specialized instruments, such as the high resolution exoplanet spectrograph EXPRES and the dual beam near infrared imaging spectrometer RIMAS.

The SA will work closely with Lowell Observatory and LDT Partner observers to facilitate their science goals.  Duties include training of first time instrument users, troubleshooting observing problems, answering observation planning and proposal inquiries, editing and maintaining instrument user manuals, and assisting with data reduction, analysis, and/or access.  The SA may also be called upon to assist the LDT Scientist with science scheduling related activities. 

The SA will help maintain LDTs operational excellence by working closely with the LDT night operations team.  The SA will assist with instrument training of telescope operators, instrument related engineering plans, on-call night-time support, and telescope operations as needed.  The SA will also work with the instrument and engineering teams, including during the annual monsoon shutdown season on required maintenance tasks.




The SA should have strong technical and communications skills and should be able to work with a multi-disciplinary group of people in time-critical and potentially high-pressure situations.  They should have significant astronomical observing experience and experience with astronomical instrumentation and data analysis.  The SA should have experience troubleshooting technical problems, significant programming experience, and broad experience with a variety of computer systems including Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX.

A valid driver’s license or ability to obtain one is required. Driving in winter conditions on mountain roads is to be expected.


Candidates should hold a PhD (or have comparable experience) in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, or a closely related field. Candidates should have four years of observing and/or telescope operations experience (this may include experience gained during completion of a relevant degree). Experience should include operations with large telescopes (two meters or larger), astronomical instrumentation, and familiarity with active optics.  Experience with photometric and/or spectroscopic data analysis and experience maintaining astronomical instrumentation is highly desirable.



The Support Astronomer will work at elevations above 7000 feet.  Temperatures can range from -20 to 70 degrees F.  The work requires a moderate degree of climbing, walking, bending, reaching, driving, and repetitive motions and typical operations require long periods of standing or sitting at a computer.  The position will include significant night-time work, although the schedule will vary.  Weekend and holiday work is frequently required.  

Status:                                                  Full Time, Regular 40 hrs/week

Location:                                             Happy Jack, AZ

Compensation :                                $70k – $80k

Benefit Eligible:                               Yes*

FLSA Classification:                         Salary, Exempt

To Apply:
Please send the following documents to

  • Lowell Application (
  • Letter of interest addressing your qualifications
  • Resume
  • Phone numbers and e-mail addresses of three professional references

Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Kyler Kuehn, Deputy Director for Technology (


Applications received by March 15th, 2020 will receive full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.


*Benefits Overview:  In addition to 10 scheduled paid holidays, Lowell Observatory offers a Flexible Paid Time Off policy for all full-time, benefit eligible employees which allows you to determine how much time you need to rest and enjoy yourself outside of work.  The cost of premiums for medical, life & long term disability insurances for benefit eligible employees is 100% paid by the company, and includes a contribution to either an H.S.A or HRA account for first dollar medical expenses.

Employment is subject to passing a background check

Lowell Observatory is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status.

Lowell Observatory provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. This nonsmoking/drug-free campus is at an elevation of 7,000 ft/2100m, and the LDT is 40 miles south of Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,800 ft/2370m. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the Human Resources office for assistance.

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