HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 11-40
Opening date: May 3, 2011
Closing date: June 10, 2011

TITLE: Astrophysicist, IS-1330, Grade 5, 7, 9, 11 $34,234 to $81,583.00
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
DIVISION: - High Energy Astrophysics Division
LOCATION: Cambridge, Massachusetts
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: All qualified US Citizens or US Permanent Residents.
The position is amended to show 2 vacancies.

Selection may be made at grades 5, 7 or 9 grade level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 11. A candidate selected at grade 5, 7 or 9, may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher grade level, up to grade 11, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.

The Solar and Stellar X-Ray Group (SSXG) researchers in the High Energy Astrophysics Division study solar and stellar atmospheres which are composed of extremely hot, highly dynamic plasma. SSXG activities include designing, testing, building and operating instruments, analyzing space and ground-based observations, and creating theoretical models. The Research Assistant will support research in the area of solar physics, specifically in obtaining data and analyzing data from sounding rocket investigations and the group's other programs, such as SDO/AIA and Hinode.

DUTIES at the Grade 5 and 7 are in the form of assigned tasks relating to the duties described for the next higher grade level. At these levels the employee is a developmental trainee where he/she receives on-the-job training and developmental experience.

Grade 9 : Duties may include but are not limited to: participating in the testing, fabrication and calibration of software and instrumentation for the group's solar projects; assisting the scientific staff in the conceptual definition of solar observing programs through research; participating in the SDO/AIA and XRT investigations; analyzing quick-look data and evaluating observed sequences along with analyzing sets of observations including data results; analyzing observational data from solar projects such as coordinated observations with satellites and group based telescopes, and calibration data sets; aligning images and comparing data with different theoretical models; assisting in the development of written procedures and standards for analyzing data sets; assisting in publishing papers and or present talks or posters at professional meetings on the results of experimental research.



All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements:

A. Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, or space science. The course work must have included differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy and/or physics.


B. Combination of education and experience - at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, and mathematics with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education. In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below:

Grade 5: Applicants who meet the basic requirements described above are fully qualified.

Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 5 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included working in a research group conducting solar research.


Completion of one-year of graduate level education


Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) when it provided the applicant with the criteria necessary to do the work of the position. For SAA requirements please go to OPM website:

Grade 9:
One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 7 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included working as a research assistant or data specialist running data analysis routines; scripting, writing, performing data reduction and archiving, and scripts for running data analysis software.


2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For a copy of the complete vacancy announcement and how to apply, visit: USAJOBS

NOTE: Appointment will be subject to the applicant’s successful/satisfactory completion of a pre-appointment background check and subsequent background investigation, including fingerprinting. New employees are subject to a one year probationary period. Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses but may pay recruitment bonus.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Visit our SAO website.


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