Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Cambridge, Massachusetts (US)
September 13 2018
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type


Trust Fund (Non-Federal), Indefinite

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) invites applications for the position of Astrophysicist to support NASA’s Universe of Learning (UoL) Collaborative Agreement which develops informal education programs to increase STEM learning, science capacity and science literacy among school-age children, the general public, and informal education providers. The primary responsibilities of the candidate will be to support all aspects of the Universe of Learning program as implemented through SAO. SAO is a Co-I team member of the UoL collaborative with the Space Science Telescope Institute (STScI), Sonoma State University, JPL and IPAC. SAO team members include the National Science Olympiad, the SAO Science Education Division, and Framingham State University/ Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning.

The primary work will include collaborating with members of the UoL team as well as the CXC Education and Public Outreach (EPO) staff, and the broader astrophysics and informal education communities to identify, plan and carry out informal education programs that include science results from Chandra and other NASA astrophysics missions in order to increase science literacy and meet UoL program goals.

The position is located in the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) and also carries a science research component.

We solicit applications from scientists with a strong background in X-ray astronomy and an interest in multi-wavelength astronomy. A key aspect of the UoL collaboration is that individual mission science results must be placed in the broader context of NASA’s astrophysics program which covers all wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. We seek a candidate with experience in developing and/or providing educational activities and programs as well as a strong interest and capability in scientific research and publication.

The position requires demonstrated experience in developing and providing informal astronomy education programs, that is, not taking place in a formal education classroom setting. Volunteer experience with amateur astronomy groups, university outreach, afterschool programs and museums is relevant. A thorough knowledge of astronomy, physics, or astrophysics, and demonstrated experience working with X-ray astronomy data, is required.

We offer an invigorating environment working in partnership with the Chandra X-ray Center EPO and scientific staffs.
Duties Include:

  1. Function as the UoL’s primary scientific conduit of Chandra/X-ray results. Plan, direct, and execute X-ray and high energy astrophysics contributions to UoL multi-wavelength programs, activities and products.
  2. Work with relevant CXC (EPO and science) staff and UoL staff from other institutions to incorporate Chandra/X-ray materials into final UoL products.
  3. Establish and maintain effective working relationships with members of the Chandra program and broader Chandra scientific community so as to be able to draw on and involve a wide range of subject matter experts (SMEs) when needed for UoL productsand activities
  4. Participate in/deliver UoL workshops, briefings, education activities.
  5. Represent Chandra and SAO UoL team at UoL events, national conferences.
  6. Conduct research with X-ray satellite observatories and with other space- and ground-based facilities. Formulate an independent X-ray astrophysical research program that includes submitting proposals, developing models, reducing and analyzing data, interpreting findings, publishing the conclusions and participating in scientific meetings and conferences.

About the Company:
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!

We will only accept applications on line for this position. Qualified applicants will be requested to submit three letters of recommendation. To view the complete vacancy announcement and online application procedures, please visit First consideration to be made 14 days after the opening date