LCO Survey Observer/Operator (SOO)

The Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) of the Carnegie Institution for Science Observatories –a world-class astronomical institution– has several openings for our new Survey Operations Team at the du Pont 2.5 m telescope as Survey Observer/Operator (SOO). As part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey V (SDSS-V), the duPont telescope operations is transitioning to a full survey mode. The focal plane will be equipped with new state-of-the-art, robotic, multi-optical fiber positioners with fibers feeding the BOSS optical spectrograph and the APOGEE 2-S infrared spectrograph.

Candidates are sought for (3) survey observer/operator(s) with (2) operating on sunset to sunrise schedules and (1) operating on a midday to midnight schedule.  All three positions are full time 7 nights in residence at the observatory and 7 nights off.  Each position on offer is a one year fixed term with the possibility of annual renewal until the end of the SDSS-V project.  Anticipated start date for these positions is 01 January, 2021.

LCO offices and administrative headquarters are located in the city of La Serena, while the observatory facilities are located in the Andes mountains 160 km north of La Serena at an altitude of 2300 meters.  There is a logistical preference for the new SOO positions to have residence in La Serena, Chile.

Job Description:

The main duties of the SOO are the safe and efficient nightly survey operations of the SDSS-V instrument suite and the duPont telescope and its subsystems. She/he has the responsibility for instrument checkout and calibrations, monitoring the nightly data streams and system performance, evaluating data quality and observing efficiency, and making decisions implementing observing plans. The SOO also has a key role in supporting instrument commissioning, performing basic troubleshooting and communicating with other mountain staff and instrument teams in case of technical issues. Additionally she/he writes daily and weekly reports on the operations of the survey, the telescope and related equipment, and contributes to documenting operations procedures. The SOO is a member of the LCO Technical Group and will report directly to the LCO Technical Operations Manager.

Required Education/Experience:

Qualified candidates will have a degree in astronomy, physics, engineering or a closely related field with hands-on observing experience with moderate to large ground-based optical/infrared telescopes, or with reducing and analyzing data from such facilities.

Exceptional work experience may substitute for degree requirements.

Required Skills/Abilities:

  • Fluency in written and spoken English.

  • Ability to communicate and cooperate in a team environment and to speak and write effectively, including technical reports and protocol documents.

  • Computer expertise in Linux or Mac OSX environments with knowledge of basic programming is desirable.

  • Valid driver’s license (Class “B”).

  • Ability to work at 2,300 m.

Application Process:

Carnegie is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Complete job description is contained in this advertisement – no phone calls please. Only electronic applications submitted through our website (  will be considered.

Review of applications to begin on 15 October and will remain open until all positions are filled.

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