Jobs & Volunteering

Dark Skies Senior Outreach Program Coordinator - McDonald Observatory

Job Description: Provides advanced program administration for the Dark Skies initiative. Coordinates and educates local communities, agencies, businesses, and individuals about the impacts of artificial lighting in the skies over McDonald Observatory. Evaluates, develops, and recommends effective lighting technologies and practices to maintain the dark and quiet skies for scientific research at the observatory.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

HET Mechanical Engineer - Optical Systems - Hobby-Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory

Job Description: As part of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) Optics Team, the HET Mechanical Engineer will lead or participate in the mechanical design relating to optics and managing the optical maintenance. This position will participate in all activities in the HET optics lab including maintaining the reflectivity of the primary mirror segments, and operating and maintaining the mirror coating facility. In addition, this position will work closely with colleagues at the HET and in Austin to design, build, and maintain optomechanical tools and instrumentation as needed for the efficient operation of the HET.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

HET Optomechanical Technician - Hobby-Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory

Job Description: Serves as the technical resource for the optical systems of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), including optical maintenance such as cleaning, metrology, coating removal, computer maintenance of the Segment Alignment Maintenance System (SAMS), and basic mechanical maintenance for the mirror supports.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Support Astronomer - McDonald Observatory

Serves as the on-site research observing specialist who provides support to astronomers (remote and in-person) using the 107-inch (2.7m) Harlan J. Smith Telescope, the historic 82-inch (2.1m) Otto Struve Telescope, and the 30-inch (.8m) telescope located at the McDonald Observatory. Provides first night training to all new users, science level training and guidance to the nighttime assistant team, and science user level feedback to the daytime engineering teams. For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Mechanic/Technician - Physical Plant, McDonald Observatory

The purpose of this position is to provide journey-level skills and to perform work in a variety of technical trades in the maintenance, repair, fabrication, and operations for a remote research facility, including performing skilled work in an electrical, mechanical, and HVAC environment. For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Optomechanical Technician - Observing Support, McDonald Observatory

The optomechanical technician performs entry-level optomechanical engineering assignments for observing support (OS). Assist with hands-on mechanical and technical support for McDonald Observatory and tenant telescope facilities including instrument changes, instrument set-up, cleaning optical surfaces, and re-coating of astronomical optics. For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Part Time Worker - Frank N. Bash Visitors Center, McDonald Observatory 

Expected start date: August
Pay rate: $11 -16/hour
Shifts: 10-18 hours per week

McDonald Observatory is looking for enthusiastic and friendly individuals to serve as Event Workers who will support our Visitors Center operations by sharing their curiosity, knowledge, and excitement about science with Observatory visitors of all ages. Primary duties include: 

  • interaction with all visitors in a positive and energetic manner,
  • helping with setup/breakdown of program equipment, supporting program facilitators,
  • checking in visitors for programs, ushering guests to seats,
  • selling program passes and memberships, assisting with sales in the Gift Shop,
  • and assisting with clean up and closing.

Interested parties with experience may also operate telescopes, present short talks, facilitate “Pop Up Lab” experiences for visitors, or present long-form visitor programs such as Solar Viewings and Guided Tours.


Previous cash handling and register experience; excellent verbal and written communication skills; proficiency with common computer software; ability to work well with others and with limited supervision; willingness to learn and take on new tasks; Bilingual a plus.


Nights and weekends required. Up to 19 hours per week.

To apply for a part time position with the Visitors Center, upload a letter of interest including your day and evening schedule availability, previous work or volunteer experience, at least 3 references, and your email address and phone number. You may include your resume and references as attachments. Please include your last name in the document title (Example: JobLetter-Lastname.doc)

McDonald Observatory is part of The University of Texas at Austin. The Observatory and Visitors Center are located near Fort Davis, Texas. Positions are security sensitive; conviction verification conducted on applicant selected. McDonald Observatory and The University of Texas at Austin are an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to diversity. 

HET in the morning