Jobs & Volunteering

Employment Opportunities

Software Engineer (Hobby-Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX)

To program, install, maintain, and support the computers and network of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at the McDonald Observatory with emphasis on the authoring and maintenance of software for the control of the telescope sub-systems. These efforts will be part of HET continuing telescope development projects.  Provide user and troubleshooting support for HET operations and staff computer hardware-software as part of the computing operations group. General software maintenance and development of operations and monitoring programs. Authoring software for the telescope sub-systems. Provide technical and troubleshooting support for the Segment Control System (SCS). Linux system administration. Act as HET Operations Engineer as required in the schedule rotation. Attend and participate in the HET staff meeting. Respond as necessary to night time repair and maintenance calls from the telescope operations staff.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Assistant Food Service Supervisor (Frank N. Bash Visitors Center StarDate Café, McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX)

Assists in the supervision of the StarDate Cafe's food services operation at the McDonald Observatory. Prepares and delivers food for employees and customers. Plans meals, manages stock, keeps accurate records, cleans the Cafe, and cashiers. Participates in special events. May work independently during work schedule.  Provides excellent customer service, receives orders, prepares food, and closes out the sales in a timely and efficient manner. Performance is measured by the taste, appearance, portion control, and satisfaction of customers. Prepares food for catering events while ensuring a high quality of standards. Performs routine cleaning of the equipment, kitchen, and dining areas to ensure a clean and safe working environment. Informs supervisor when the stock and supplies are low. Orders goods as instructed by supervisor, receives and stocks merchandise on a regular basis. Follows the University's and the Visitor Center's cash handling procedures to ensure that the cash drawer and cash reports are handled according to policy. Trains part-time employees in the general operation of the cafe, menu preparation, clean-up, and stocking of merchandise. Supervises casual employees, in the absence of the Supervisor. Participate in special events.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Volunteer Opportunities

The Public Observatory benefits greatly from volunteer support provided by area amateur astronomers. These individuals frequently bring their own telescopes to Star Parties in order to share striking views of the night sky with visitors to the Observatory.

On-site Amateur Astronomer Volunteers at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center
Are you an experienced amateur astronomer looking for an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with the public? Do you have an RV or travel trailer and the freedom to spend several weeks (or more) at a remote dark-sky site.

The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory is looking for experienced amateur astronomers to serve as site-volunteers to support the Observatory's extensive public programs. The Observatory's Visitors Center plays host to approximately 60,000 visitors each year, many of whom participate in the Center's array of outreach activities. Site-volunteers will assist with both daytime and nighttime activities including guided tours, star parties, special viewing nights, and summer scout night programs as well as other special programs at other times of the year. In exchange for a four week (flexible), ≤ 20 hrs/wk (depending on time of year, up to 12 evening/night hours & up to 8 daytime hours) commitment and upon successful completion of the application process, the site-volunteer will be granted access to one of the Observatory's RV sites (full hook-ups, etc., provided.) Other restrictions apply. Background check required. Greatest needs are typically through the month of March with our Spring Break crowds and late May through August during traditional summer vacation months.

For more information, please contact Frank Cianciolo, Visitors Center manager (frankc @ utexas . edu (remove the spaces), 432-426-4152).

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

The Frank N. Bash Visitor Center at McDonald Observatory offers volunteer opportunities to individuals interested in astronomy and/or education. The greatest need for volunteers has been during our public star parties at busy times of the year. We have several telescopes that we use for our public programs including a 16" Meade LX200, 22" Classical Cassegrain, 22" Dobsonian and several Celestron and Meade 8" Schmidt Cassegrains. Training is provided. If you would like more information please contact the Visitors Center through the Volunteer Coordinator or call us at 432-426-3640 and ask for Shannon Rudine.

See also: Outreach volunteer opportunities in Austin


Visitors enjoying a star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald

Star Party