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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Astrophysicist
Agency:  Smithsonian Institution
Job Announcement Number:  13-11

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$42,406.00 to $67,427.00 / Per Year
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 to Monday, April 15, 2013
Full Time Temporary not to exceed 2 years. - This is not a federal position.
1 vacancy in the following location:
Cambridge, MA, USView Map

All qualified candidates

First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably 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! 

This is the position of Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.  The purpose of the position is to support scientific research in the area of the Virtual Astronomical Observatory (VAO), specifically in spectral energy distribution applications.


  • Pre and post appointment background investigation
  • May be required to serve a one year trial period
  • Selection may be made at either the grade 7 or grade 9 level
  • Electronic funds transfer/direct deposit is required for salary payment


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Duties at the grade 7 level are at the developmental trainee level; assignments combine performance of productive work with orientation and supervised on-the-job training.  Duties include but are not limited to: Analyzing data; assisting scientific staff in running experiments and acquiring data; developing, testing and modifying new and existing computer code to accomplish data analysis activities; designing, developing and modifying software; modifying existing software for development and testing; maintaining updated public software descriptions to remain current with software version; providing technical assistance to other division IT Specialists, staff, and members of other institutions on problems running scientific analysis software; assisting in publishing papers and/or present talks at professional meetings on the results of Virtual Observatory developments.  Performing other related duties as assigned.  

In addition to the above, duties for grade 9 may include: developing and analyzing numerical algorithms on which software is based. 


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Basic Requirements:

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.


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 above basic qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below: Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the entry level (grade 5) in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included training in areas of data reduction and analysis, developing and analyzing data, computer programming. OR Completion of one-year of graduate level education. OR Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) when it provided the applicant with the criteria necessary to do the work of the position. For SAA requirements, please go to OPM website: Grade 9: One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the developmental trainee (grade 7) level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included developing and documenting software, developing and analyzing numerical algorithms, designing, modifying and analyzing  software OR Two years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree. Note: Education and experience may be combined for all grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable. 

Qualification requirements must be met within 30 days of the job opportunity announcement closing date. For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at


Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualification. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

1.- Knowledge of physics or astronomy, or related field to understand the physics of modeling, and analyzing data and to understand the basic scientific concepts pertaining to data processing.

2.- Knowledge of mathematics to be able to develop and analyze algorithms and perform the necessary calculations to develop code.

3.- Knowledge of UNIX operating systems and some knowledge of programming in high level language such as Python, Perl, linux shells .

4.- Skills in applying modern computer techniques to scientific problems and mathematical analysis of systems.

5.- Knowledge of astronomical data analysis packages such as CIAO, IDL, IRAF, FTOOLS. 

To preview questions please click here.


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Please refer to our website for Trust Fund Benefits:



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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.


Detailed Resume. School transcripts if qualifying by education. 

Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study if applicable


Mary Hebert
Phone: 617-496-7816
Fax: 617-495-7263
Agency Information:
Human Resources
60 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Mail Stop 17
Cambridge, MA
Fax: 617-495-7263


You will receive an e-mail to acknowledge that your application has been received. Please be aware that the confirmation e-mail could reside in your "junk" or "bulk" mail folder depending on your filters. The Smithsonian receives many applications for each job. Each application is reviewed carefully which may take a few weeks. We will send you an e-mail to update you as we go through phases of the application review process. You may also check your application status by logging into and selecting the tab "My USAJOBS;" e-mailing; or by contacting the Office of Human Resources Representative listed. Additional Information:
  • Tips on applying for Smithsonian jobs are available at
  • The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses.
  • The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity (

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