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Job Title:
Astrophysicist, IS-1330, Grade 12; $98,240 - $127,707 per year
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all eligible candidates.


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. SAO combines its resources with those of the Harvard College Observatory to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). The CfA is the best-known astrophysics center in the world. Its programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch and use in large ground-based facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support.  Government funds are in the form of Federal appropriations or the form of contracts and grants from other agencies. In contrast, Institution funds are available to SAO through grants from the Institution's Restricted Funds, Special Purpose Funds, Bureau Activities, Business Activities, and non-Federal contracts and grants. 


The position of Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is described in this document.  The employee works under the direction of a senior staff member and will participate in a program of research on solar astrophysics with emphasis on the dynamic solar activity such as flares and CME's.  The investigation aims to understand features of solar flares using a variety of observational and modeling techniques.


1. Develop and interpret data reduction and analysis of observations from satellite and ground-based experiments in the context of existing theories and models of corona dynamics.
2. Work with scientists to prepare collaborative observing programs involving AIA, IRIS, and/or Hinode/XRT.  
3. Contribute to the long-term calibration of instrumentation projects such as the Hinode XRT and AIA programs.
4. Prepare and submit proposals for studies using various space- and ground-based facilities and for interpreting data from them.
5. Design, develop, and verify software systems for general data analysis.  This includes defining the necessary programs and subroutines, coding and debugging them, and applying them to the analysis of scientific data.
6. Formulate and carry out independent scientific research involving a program of observational studies.  Prepare observing programs that will address specific scientific problems; reduce and analyze the resulting data; develop models of solar flares and coronal dynamics.
7. Prepare papers for scientific publication and present scientific results at meetings and conferences. Attend meetings and conferences to exchange data and ideas with other scientists.
8. Perform other related duties as requested.
Basic Requirements:
A. Degree: in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science, or electronics. 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, mathematics, and electronics, with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.
In addition to the basic requirements, a grade 12 must also possess the following:
Grade 12
A. Ph.D. degree or equivalent doctoral degree
B. A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least grade 11 in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  This experience includes experience in MHD modeling, and data analysis techniques such as computing differential emission measures and plane-of-sky flow tracking.
C. A combination of successfully completed graduate level education and experience equivalent to the above
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required:
  • A thorough background in physics or astrophysics as may be evidenced by a Ph.D.
  • Skill in the analysis and interpretation of UV, EUV, and/or X-ray observations of the Sun
  • Knowledge of solar data analysis software, in particular the SunPy python package and the Solar SoftWare package in IDL
  • Ability to develop observational and analysis proposals
  • Ability to present findings in a publishable format and to present material at professional meetings
  • Ability to develop and analyze the results of MHD models
Applicants, who wish to qualify based on education completed outside the United States, must be deemed equivalent to higher education programs of U.S. Institutions by an organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. This documentation is the responsibility of the applicant and should be included as part of your application package.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:  Please use the following link to visit Smithsonian's Career Page:  Smithsonian Institution Job Opportunities Site

The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact the Human Resources Specialist listed. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis

Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-employment Background Check and Subsequent Background Investigation, as required.
  • Complete a Probationary Period if applicable. 
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer.
  • The position is open to all candidates eligible to work in the United States.  Proof of eligibility to work in U.S. is not required to apply.
  • Applicants must meet all qualification and eligibility requirements within 30 days of the closing date of this announcement. 

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

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The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds supports and enhances our daily work life and contributes to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. For more information on the Smithsonian EEO program please see

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