Monthly Archives: February 2020

Open position: Resident Astronomer

This advertisement was posted on February 17th 2020, and applications received by March 31st will be fully considered.


The University of Texas at Austin, McDonald Observatory invites applications for a Resident Astronomer for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in the beautiful Davis Mountains of west Texas. The HET is a fully queue scheduled 10-m class optical and near-IR spectroscopic telescope located 6,600 feet above sea level. The observing queue is run by the team of Resident Astronomers who serve as on-site observing specialists, generally each working about 7-10 nights per month. Currently the facility instruments include the Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS), the Low-Resolution Spectrograph 2 (LRS2), and the Habitable-zone Planet Finder Spectrograph (HPF). All together, this powerful suite of spectroscopic instruments on one of the world’s largest optical telescopes enables a diverse range of research possibilities.

The Resident Astronomer position includes up to 25% time for personal research and funds to support research (computing, travel, publications, etc).


Key responsibilities of the position include:

  • Leading nightly science observations safely and efficiently from sunset to sunrise.
  • Working with the HET partner scientists to verify the integrity and quality of the observations and help optimize the scientific productivity of the facility.
  • Working with instrument scientists and engineering staff to maintain and document the performance of the HET and its instruments.
  • Documenting the current status of science operations through wikis and web pages.
  • Conducting projects to characterize and/or improve science operations.
  • Up to 25% of the work hours are available to conduct personal research and to contribute to the scientific life at the observatory.


The full job advertisement is available on the AAS job register:


and the application is available on the UT workday website:—Hobby-Eberly-Telescope_R_00008175

Exciting new results from HPF

HPF’s first new astronomy result is now published!  The team has validated their first planet, G 9-40b.

The article in the Astronomical Journal is available here:

And here is a freely-available version of the paper on the arXiv pre-print server:

Press releases on this from PSU, UT are at:

For a more publicly-accessible description, see the HPF team’s blog:

Short term DIMM outage

As of Wednesday Feb 12th, the DIMM (Differential Image Motion Monitor) telescope is temporarily out of commission due to a technical problem. We usually run this telescope (mounted a few hundred feet from the HET on a platform to monitor native site seeing) while observing and provide the DIMM image quality (seeing) measurement to PIs with their observations. However these measurements will be temporarily unavailable while we are fixing the issue.

(Edit Feb 22nd: the DIMM functionality has been restored!)