W. M. Keck Observatory
  • competitive
  • Salary

4 weeks of annual paid vacation, 100%-paid employee health insurance, a 403(b) plan, a highly regarded tuition assistance program for dependent children (K-12 grade), and an unmatched focus on excellence

W.M. Keck Observatory in Kamuela, HI is actively seeking an ambitious and experienced full-time Staff Astronomer to instruct observers in the use of instruments and telescopes. Do you have a Ph.D. in astronomy or a related field? Have you previously worked at an astronomical observatory or a similar research institution? Are you aspiring to advance your career in observatory operations, instrumentation, and research with a supportive team in an innovative and lively environment? If so, please keep reading!

This instrument scientist position earns a competitive salary, depending on experience and skill. We also provide great benefits and perks, including 4 weeks of annual paid vacation, 100%-paid employee health insurance, a 403(b) plan, a highly regarded tuition assistance program for dependent children (K-12 grade), and an unmatched focus on excellence. If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, apply today!


From Hawaii's Maunakea, astronomers around the world use our observatory to observe the universe with unprecedented power and precision. Our twin observatory telescopes are the world's most scientifically productive optical and infrared telescopes! With our highly advanced technology, we focus on service and stewardship and are very committed to being the science leader in large ground-based telescopes. We support the mission of the observatory and work to unravel the mysteries of the universe!

Each employee is a part of our mission. We provide meaningful jobs and a lively place to pursue careers. Employees are able to work with a variety of equipment and scientific applications for the good of humanity and pure science. We work in a wonderful setting and environment and are passionate about what we do. We're looking for more individuals to join us!


As an instrument scientist, your role is the core of what we do. By ensuring that observers are properly instructed in the use of our instruments, you support quality scientific research. You work directly with researchers to operate and calibrate instrumentations while supporting nighttime observations. Working with technical teams, you solve problems, add new capabilities, perform maintenance, and make minor upgrades to instruments. Working with the development teams at the observatory and at partner institutions, you assist with instrument projects and new initiatives. Your job is highly collaborative, as you team with engineers and technicians to keep instruments in top condition and meet the needs of observers.

Being a instrument scientist, your ultimate goal is to develop a high degree of expertise in one or more of our instruments. You develop your expertise by maintaining, operating, and improving instruments with proper documentation. To achieve observatory goals, you develop, test, optimize, and document observing techniques and methodology. You contribute to the data management of the observatory with data reduction tools and techniques as well as deal with observers' data analysis inquiries. Observers' concerns are also met when you respond to post-observing comment forms and follow through on improvements. Being an instrument scientist also affords time to perform independent research and help develop optimal observing techniques and methodology.


  • Ph.D. in astronomy or a related science field
  • 3 years of experience working at an astronomical observatory or similar research institution
  • Knowledge about astronomical instrumentation

Experience working with data reduction packages and with scientific instrumentation would be a plus! Do you have the ability to communicate effectively? Can you work well under pressure? Are you collaborative? Can you analyze and evaluate data and equipment efficiently? If yes, you would be the perfect fit for our observing support team!


Your Staff Astronomer schedule is full-time and includes afternoon/night-time support of the 7 nights a week science operations with observers in Waimea or at remote mainland sites. The schedule also includes day-time work as an instrument scientist.

W. M. Keck Observatory
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