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LCO Computer Programmer/Engineer

Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) of the Carnegie Institution for Science, a world-class astronomical institution - is seeking to strengthen our computer programming and engineering team with two new positions in Chile. The Observatories manage the twin 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes at LCO on behalf of a consortium of research institutions. LCO offices and administrative headquarters are in the coastal resort city of La Serena, while the observatory facilities are located 160km north of La Serena at the southern extremity of the Atacama desert in the Andes mountains.

Job Description:

The new staff members will work in a team of scientists, programmers, engineers and technicians to maintain and support operation of the two 6.5 meter Magellan Telescopes. The successful candidate(s) will be tasked to develop, maintain, and document telescope computer control systems. A principal goal will be to lead and carry out a smooth transition from the currently robust telescope control systems written in  fortran and C++ and running on DOS to more modern and supportable systems. The duties of the programmer/engineer(s) will include developing and executing this transition with minimal impact on nightly operations. This will include direct production of code as well as documentation, development and integration of observatory operations hardware and software control systems (motor controllers, digital/analog sensors, inverters, PLCs, servos, etc...). Work responsibilities will follow a nominal shift schedule of up to 8 days on site per two-week period, with flexibility for engineering periods.


  • An advanced degree in computer programming and/or engineering and/or experience in programming hardware control in an astronomical observatory or similar scientific environment.
  • Strong coding and software development skills particularly with respect to hardware controls engineering or robotics development.
  • Ability to communicate and cooperate in a team environment and to speak and write effectively, including troubleshooting reporting and protocol documents. Fluency in written and spoken English. Knowledge of Spanish is an asset.
  • Ability to work at 8,000 feet.


  • Previous experience in observatory operations and specifically development/implementation of Telescope Control System software
  • Familiarity or ability to work with C++ and/or FORTRAN and MS-DOS, Linux.

Application Process:

Carnegie is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Complete job description is contained in this advertisement – no phone calls please.
Only electronic applications submitted through our website will be considered.

Thank you for submitting your application by clicking on the button below.

Application review will begin on 15 January, 2019 and continue until positions are filled. Only select candidates who meet our requirements will be contacted.

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