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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Astrophysicist (Technical Assistant)
Agency:  Smithsonian Institution
Job Announcement Number:  13-25

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 $55,132.00 / Per Year
Monday, August 12, 2013 to Friday, September 13, 2013
Full Time - Trust Fund Temporary 2 years with possibility of extension. 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



This is the position of Astrophysicist (Technical Assistant) in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is twofold: (1) providing technical support for the processing, analyzing, and modeling of data from multiwavelength astronomical observations of supernova remnants, pulsar winds, and other Galactic sources of high energy radiation; (2)  Contributing to the development of education and public outreach materials to support the dissemination of science background and content. This position is at the developmental trainee level, incorporating productive data analysis and science writing with supervised training in the use of specific data analysis tools.


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!


  • Pre and Post appointment background investigation.
  • Electronic funds transfer/direct deposit is required for salary payment.


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Duties: Participating in the reduction and analysis of astronomical data; creating organized storage structures for data and analysis products; creating images, mosaics, spectra, and timing products; participating in data modeling to determine best fit parameters; assisting members of the research group with data analysis tasks; carrying out searches of astronomical catalogs and archival databases; identifying source counterparts and recording properties; carrying out searches of on-line literature and other resources; investigating previous use of astronomical data sets and analysis techniques and results; participating in creating written descriptions and associated materials for use in science education and public outreach; working with the supervisor as well as other education specialists in developing materials; and performing other duties as assigned.


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All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements: A. Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics,or space science. 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, and mathematics 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: Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 5 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included providing technical support for the processing analyzing and modeling of data from astronomical observations of high energy radiation, assisting in the development of education and public outreach materials 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:

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. Applications that meet the basic qualifications will be further evaluated against the following criteria:

Knowledge of physics and astronomy sufficient to understand the scientific concepts underlying the science goals of astronomical observations and carry out data analysis.

Knowledge of mathematics to be able to understand the algorithms and perform the necessary calculations to analyze astronomical data.

Knowledge of programming techniques and computer equipment and systems software.

Knowledge of Unix or Linux based operating systems.

Knowledge of a higher-level programming language such as FORTRAN or C.

Knowledge of a scripting language such as Perl, Python, or Unix shell scripting.

Knowledge of Science Education and skill in public outreach.

Skill in oral and written communication.

To preview questions please click here.


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Please see our website for Trust fund benefits information:


The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses but may pay a recruitment bonus. The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity (


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You must apply for this position online. Do not submit paper applications/resumes by mail, e-mail, or fax. You will be required to create an account and build a resume on unless you previously established an account. You will also be asked to respond to assessment questions online. To see a preview of the questionnaire before applying, go to the "Qualifications & Evaluations" tab and click on the link at the bottom of the page. Instructions for Applying Online: Important: You must complete the entire application process which includes responding to a set of questions. Your application will not transfer to Smithsonian until you click on the FINISH button. This is not the same as the DONE button which is used to complete the fax cover sheet print step. 1. Click on the Apply Online button at the bottom of this announcement. 2. When you click Apply Online, you will have to register a USAJobs account or log into your existing account. Once you are logged in, choose which resume you wish to submit, select it and click 'Apply for this Position Now!' Your resume will become part of your application and will automatically be transferred to the Smithsonian Tracking & Applicant Referral System (STARS). 3a. If this is your first time applying to a Smithsonian position online you will be prompted by a 'core' questionnaire. Complete all questions on the questionnaire. You will then be prompted to print fax cover sheets. Print the applicable fax cover sheet(s) generated at the end of the on-line application process. Once you have printed fax cover sheets click on 'Done' at the bottom of the page. 3b. If you have applied for a position with us before you will have the option to review your previous responses to the core questions, or proceed to the vacancy specific questions described in the next step. 4. You will be prompted by a vacancy specific questionnaire. These questions must be completed for your application to be submitted. Once you have completed all questions in this questionnaire, click 'Finish'. 5. You will then be prompted to print fax coversheets specific to the vacancy. Print the applicable fax coversheet(s) generated at the end of the on-line application process. Once you have printed fax cover sheets click on 'Done' at the bottom of the page. 6. Once you have finished answering questions for all grades that you are applying for, you must review your questionnaire responses and select 'Finish' at the bottom of the review page. If you do not click 'Finish' at the bottom of the review page your application will not be submitted. NOTE: When faxing supporting documentation, use the phone number listed on the fax cover sheet. The fax cover sheet(s) contains an important ID number, so keep a copy for your files. Use a separate fax cover sheet for each type of document. Documentation must be received by the closing date of the announcement. Documents to be faxed can be found under "Required Documents" listed below. To view the status of your faxed supporting documentation, please follow the steps below: Logon to your USAJOBS account. Click on the "Applications" tab and locate the vacancy. Under the "Application Status" column click on the "More information" hyperlink. You will then be transferred to the "Gateway to State" Welcome screen. Click on the View/Generate Fax Cover Sheet radio button. On the next screen, under the Status column it will show you the status of your fax supporting documentation. NOTE: It may take several hours before your fax documentation is reflected in the system. Check for confirmation emails for documents that you have faxed. Depending on the level of activity in the online application system, your confirmation email may be delayed. Please be aware that the confirmation email could be in your "Junk" or "Bulk Mail" folder. After the vacancy closes, the HR office uses the application package (resume and questionnaire responses) to rate, rank and certify candidates. Exceptions may be granted to accept paper applications in extenuating circumstances; however paper applications submitted without prior approval from the agency point of contact will be handled as incomplete and will not be considered.


Detailed resume.

School Transcript, if using education to qualify for the position

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.

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