Selection for this position will be made at either the grade 11, 12 or 13. If selection is made at the grade 11, or 12 level the selectee may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher level up to the grade 13 upon recommendation of the Professional Accomplishments Evaluation Committee (PAEC).Learn more about this agency
This is the position of Astronomer in the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. S/He participates in research involving orbits, orbital elements, and orbit determination of minor planets and other activities related to the functioning of the Minor Planet Center.
- Determines orbits for objects whose observations are submitted to the Minor Planet Center.
- Function as part of a team in the processing of orbital elements and related information received by the Minor Planet Center. This includes checking data for both reliability and relevance, consulting with the contributors when appropriate.
- Function as part of a team to use existing procedures for making more sophisticated identifications of newly reported objects with minor planets observed only very perfunctorily in the past, so that new objects can as a result be considered known and their orbits added to the main database.
- Function as part of a team to assist with the design and development of substantial modifications to current techniques for the determination of orbits from observations.
- Function as part of a team to assist with the discovery and correction of errors in the MPC's orbital and observational databases.
- Function as part of a team to assist with the development of new orbital integration and propagation routines, as well as the introduction of modem mathematical and physics techniques to the differential correction problem.
- Function as part of a team to assist with the application of new procedures for determining the orbits of minor planets.
- Assist in the preparation of reports on activities by the Minor Planet Center and on
In addition to the duties above duties at the grade 12 may include but are not limited to:
1. Independently contribute to team efforts to design and develop substantial modifications to current techniques for the determination of orbits from observations.
2. Independently contribute to team efforts to discover and correct errors in the MPC's orbital and observational databases.
3. Independently contribute to team efforts to develop new orbital integration and propagation routines, as well as assist in the introduction of modem mathematical and physics techniques to the differential correction problem.
4. Independently contribute to team efforts to apply new procedures for determining the orbits of minor planets.
5. Assist in the preparation of papers on such analyses and related topics for publication in scientific journals and presentation at scientific meetings.
In addition to the duties above, duties at the grade 13 may include but are not limited to:
1. Function as part of a team while leading all aspects of the design and development of substantial modifications to current techniques for the determination of orbits from observations.
2. Function as part of a team while leading all aspects of the discovery and correction of errors in the MPC's orbital and observational databases.
3. Function as part of a team while leading the development of new orbital integration and propagation routines, as well as the introduction of modem mathematical and physics techniques to the differential correction problem.
4. Function as part of a team while leading the application of new procedures for determining the orbits of minor planets.
5. Lead the preparation of reports on activities by the Minor Planet Center and on related activities by the national and international community, as well as proposals that can lead to funding opportunities.
6. Present these reports and proposals at national and international meetings.
7. Lead the preparation of papers on such analyses and related topics for publication in scientific journals and presentation at scientific meetings.
Job family (Series)
Conditions Of Employment
- May be required to complete Pre and Post appointment background check
- Direct Deposit/Electronic Funds Transfer required for salary payment
- May be required to serve a one year probationary period
- First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.
Applicants must meet the basic qualification requirements as described in the Office of Personnel Management's Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions. These standards may be viewed at the following address on the web at http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/Standards/IORs/gs1300/1330.htm.
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. OR
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 meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below:
Master's or equivalent graduate degree or 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 09 that should demonstrate competence with using available orbit fitting software.
A. A Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in a related field
B. A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 11 level in the normal line of progress for this occupation which should demonstrate the ability to develop new techniques for fitting and analyzing minor planet orbits.
C. A combination of successfully completed graduate level education and experience equivalent to the above.
- A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 12 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation which should demonstrate the ability to lead others in developing software packages or theoretical approaches for studying problems in the field of solar system dynamics.
The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses but may pay a recruitment bonus. The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity (www.si.edu/oeema).
How You Will Be Evaluated
You will be evaluated to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications required; and on the extent to which your application shows that you possess the criteria associated with this position as defined below
- Knowledge of dynamical astronomy, dynamics, and determination of orbits, as may be evidenced by a Ph.D. degree or comparable professional experience.
- Ability to publish scientific results, particularly in the area of orbit determination of celestial bodies.
- Knowledge of astronomical catalogs and databases.
- Knowledge of modern computer techniques.
- Skill in using telescopes and modern instrumentation for the observation of moving objects.
- Skill in the preparation of scientific reports and papers.
To preview questions please click here.
Background checks and security clearance
Drug test required
Detailed resume or CV and bibliography
Names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references
School transcripts or degree certificate
Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:
Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.
Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
How to Apply
Click on the "Apply Online" button on the upper right side of the page. Please Note:
- You must apply for this position online through the 'Apply Online' button.
- Faxes are received by an automated system, not a physical fax machine. Documents that are faxed as part of the application process must be sent with the system generated cover sheet by the closing date. Documents faxed without the system generated coversheet are not retrievable and cannot be considered as part of the application package.
- Clicking the "DONE" tab does not submit your application. The "DONE" tab allows you to exit the system and save your information for completion at a later time. To submit your application, click the "FINISH" tab.
- The complete application package, including any required documents, is due in the Smithsonian Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
Agency contact information
60 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Mail Stop 17
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
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A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must provide reasonable accommodations:
- An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.
Legal and regulatory guidance
This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/506530300. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.