SALT Astronomer at National Research Foundation

  • Contract Intermediate EE position

  • Cape Town, Western Cape

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2198412 | Ref 2839

  • Posted 13 Mar 2018

About the Position

SALT Astronomer

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), on behalf of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Foundation, is seeking qualified candidates for the position of SALT Astronomer.

The SAAO is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in picturesque Cape Town with a Mediterranean climate, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the semi-arid Northern Cape. Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs about 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate the 10-m Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. SAAO is the premier optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, contributing to SET human capital development for South Africa. Research focus areas include extragalactic astronomy, time domain astrophysics, planetary astronomy and instrumentation development.


SALT Astronomers (SAs) are based in Cape Town and will be expected to regularly conduct service observing (about one week in six) on the queue-scheduled SALT. Other duties consist of preparing and scheduling of observations on behalf of the SALT users, liaising with SALT users, performing and managing pipeline data reductions, writing and developing software, and depending on background, serving as an instrument scientist. A generous amount of personal research time and resources, using SALT and other SAAO facilities, will also be available. SALT astronomers work within the SAAO science staff structure. Student supervision and lecturing are also encouraged.

Minimum requirements:

  • PhD in Astronomy.
  • 3 years' experience in optical observational astronomy and/or data reduction.
  • Ability and interest to carry out own astronomical research.

Desirable Work Experience

  • Instrument development expertise, and/or software development experience, such as data reduction pipelines or web-based software, would be an advantage.
  • Experience in precision radial velocity work Echelle spectroscopy and/or NIR spectroscopy with fibers or IFUs would be an advantage. However, applicants with other observational backgrounds relevant to SALT will also be considered.
  • Student supervision and/or lecturing experience.
  • Interest in PR and outreach, using social media or otherwise, is also an asset.

The position will initially be for a period of three years, with the possibility of an extension. The salary package will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The filling of this position will be in line with the NRF's Employment Equity Policy and Plan.

For further information please contact Dr. Encarni Romero Colmenero (Email Address); applicants should send a cover letter and CV to this address and to the SAAO HR Manager, Linda Tobin (Email Address), and organise three letters of reference to be sent to both addresses.

Applications should be submitted no later than 30th April 2018.

The ideal candidate will have the following competencies:


  • Research Outputs, e.g. presentations at international conferences and
  • Data analysis
  • Publications


  • OR online, high-performance computing
  • Data analysis in heavy - ion pr particle physics
  • Research outputs, e.g. presentations at international conferences, publications in peer - reviewed journals
  • OR expertise on detectors / instrumentation


  • the acquisition of information
  • the utilisation of information (research, etc.)
  • research methodology

About The Employer

National Research Foundation (NRF) supports and promotes research and human capital development though funding, the provision of National Research Facilities and science outreach platforms and programmes to the broader community in all fields of science and technology, including natural science, engineering, social science and humanities.

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