Lick Observatory Laser / Telescope Technician

Location: Mt Hamilton
Job ID: 36060


**PLEASE NOTE: Lick Observatory, located on Mount Hamilton, is the worksite for this position and is located 19 miles east of San Jose on Highway 130 at 4,200 feet elevation.**

Year-round residential housing with nominal rent is available for the selected Laser/Telescope Technician candidate. Residents are responsible for personal utilities costs.

Lick Observatory offers a friendly working environment with a diverse set of challenges, in addition to the incredible views of the surrounding areas.

Other benefits to working at UC Santa Cruz include:

  • Medical, Dental & Vision Care Insurance Plans
  • UC Retirement Plans
  • Group Term Life Insurance
  • Legal Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Paid Holidays plus accrued vacation and sick leave


UC Vaccination Policy: With limited exceptions, for Covered Individuals under the Policy. Covered Individuals include all employees, students, or trainees who physically access a University facility or program in connection with their employment, appointment, or education/training.

Covered Individuals do NOT include employees who work 100% remotely with NO expectation that they will physically access any University location or program at ANY time. If 100% remote work ends, the employee is subject to policy.


UC Santa Cruz staff jobs are posted until filled. Application materials submitted by 11:59 pm on the IRD will be routed to the hiring unit for consideration. NOTE: Materials submitted after the IRD will be forwarded only at the request of the hiring unit. Submit your materials before the IRD to ensure consideration by the hiring unit.

The IRD for this job is: 06-27-2022


UC Santa Cruz is a public university like no other in California, combining the experience of a small, liberal arts college with the depth and rigor of a major research university. It's known as an unconventional place where innovation and experimentation is part of the campus's DNA. That playful, bold spirit still thrives today, all on a campus renowned as among the most beautiful in the world.


Under general direction of the Lick Observatory Superintendent, the incumbent performs duties in support of astronomical research at the Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton. The incumbent independently plans and executes a safe and efficient night program at the Shane Telescope to assist astronomers and/or researchers in accomplishing their goals. The incumbent independently operates the laser systems and all technical aspects of scientific observations, including electronic, electrical and mechanical problem solving. The incumbent also functions as an electronics technician performing assembly, installation, troubleshooting and repair of complex electronic instrumentation and equipment. Independently operates the 120-inch Shane Telescope and all technical aspects of scientific observations. Trains new personnel.

More information can be found here:


Salary Information: $34.03 / Hourly
No. of Positions: 1
Benefits Level Eligibility: Full benefits

Schedule Information:

  • Full-time, Fixed
  • Percentage of Time: 100%, 40 Hours per Week
  • Days of the Week: Mon-Sun
  • Shift Includes: Days, Evenings, Nights, Weekends, Swing Shift

Employee Classification: This is a Career appointment Job End Date: None
Work Location: Lick Observatory Mount Hamilton
Union Representation: TX
Job Code Classification: 008321 (TELESCOPE TCHN PRN)
Travel: Never or Rarely


40% - Laser Operations and Maintenance

  • Sets up the relative parameters of an observation based upon instruction received directly from the astronomer or researcher. Operates the laser systems in support of astronomical observations. Ensures proper optical alignment of laser subsystems as well as alignment of laser to telescope and adaptive optics systems.
  • Participates in the maintenance and operation of dye and solid-state laser systems. Assists with characterization of laser performance. Participates in integration of future upgrades of the laser systems.
  • Maintains and replaces optical components (flash lamps, rods, Q-switches etc.) and maintains optics in the Nd:Yag dye master oscillator, preamplifier and amplifier subsystems. Maintains laser documentation.
  • Maintains laser safety system and ensures laser safety standards are met. Monitors diagnostic cameras, acquisition systems, computers, and related equipment.
  • Creates and records written reports describing operational malfunctions, including suggestions for possible solutions to problems.
  • Troubleshoots and repairs lasers when failures occur including optics, mechanical stages, shutters, calorimeters, sensors, mechanical pumps, temperature control, flow control, electrical and electronics systems and programmable logic controllers.

60% - Operations

Telescope Operations:

  • Sets up the relative parameters of an observation based upon instruction received directly from the astronomer or researcher. Optimizes observing time by accurate and timely computation of object positions and interpretation of finding charts to locate proper objects.
  • Monitors and/or operates low light level CCD guide camera and auto guiding system, computers, data acquisition systems and related equipment. Monitors and evaluates dome orientation, windscreen, telescope position and tracking, weather conditions and electrical and mechanical components (such as pumps, motors, hydraulic and cooling systems) that support the operating systems.
  • Based on these evaluations advises astronomers and researchers on how to maximize the equipment and their time. Acquires and maintains a working knowledge of existing and newly introduced instrumentation (highly specialized equipment specific to individual astronomical projects) and guides astronomers in achieving the research goal.
  • Creates and records a written nightly report describing weather conditions and operational malfunctions; the report may include suggestions for possible solutions to problems. Assists support astronomers with Adaptive Optics NGS/LGS operations.
  • Independently determines the need to shut down the telescope during a viewing session if weather or other conditions jeopardize the equipment.

Electronics and Computing Operations:

  • Installs and maintains complex electronic equipment, often containing one-of-a-kind solid state digital and/or analog circuitry. Installs and maintains infrared and adaptive optics instrumentation.
  • Performs maintenance and trouble-shooting on instrumentation circuitry. Operates and troubleshoots computers, workstations and peripherals in a Windows/Linux environment. When timely repairs are not possible, develops alternative methods to minimize telescope down time.
  • Documents and explains equipment malfunctions and repair procedures, through written logs and databases, for faculty and staff. Consults with and advises astronomers and researchers on the use of telescopes and associated instruments, electronic devices and computers. Assists observers with the installation of custom instruments, helps to interface them with existing telescope electronics. Performs equipment readiness tests before astronomers begin work. Archives data and prepares computer systems for next observer.
  • Troubleshoots and repairs analog and digital electronic systems, electrical and computer systems.

Repair and Maintenance of Telescope Equipment and Domes:

  • Installs spectrometers, photometers and direct cameras to proper configuration, including testing instruments, balancing telescopes and understanding astronomer's written instructions. This is often done independently and on weekends. Under supervision, writes procedures and checklists for instrument setups. This includes a balance schedule for specific instrument configurations, CCD dewar identification, acquisition TV mirrors, TV focus and other information necessary for instrument changes. Performs CCD dewar changes and evaluates data taker to verify correct calibration and operation.
  • Diagnoses and repairs electrical malfunctions in motors, motor starters, switches, relays, low voltage control circuits, 3-phase 220, 208 & 110 volt A.C. circuits, and any electrical apparatus on the telescope and domes. Diagnoses and repairs problems and performs maintenance on a wide variety of mechanical, pneumatic and vacuum equipment. This includes gear reducers, cable winches, electric brakes and clutches, mechanical vacuum roughing pumps, diffusion pumps, fans, water pumps, water coolers & chillers, high efficiency air filtration systems, miscellaneous air filtering equipment and air compressors. Removes snow from telescope domes. Operates forklifts and articulating lifts.
  • Aids astronomers in optical alignment and focusing, using auto-collimators, lasers and various alignment tools.

Repair of Related Facilities Equipment:

  • Installs, maintains and repairs refrigeration equipment including special cooling devices for astronomical instruments. Maintains commitment to a high standard of safety, complies with all safety laws and safety policies/rules, attends training sessions, and reports actual and potential safety violations to appropriate supervisor or management.

Aluminization and Optical Maintenance:

  • Checks optical surfaces on finder telescopes, relay lenses, collimators, etc., for cleanliness and safely clean if necessary. Performs CO2 snow cleaning of all primary mirror coatings and other optical surfaces when necessary.
  • Every 2-3 years, assists the Telescope Operations manager and opticians in acid stripping and cleaning of coatings and contaminants from optical surfaces and the re-coating of mirrors in the optical coating shop. Monitors vacuum roughing pump, refrigeration unit, cold trap, and diffusion pumps.


  • Substantial experience in performing technical tasks in the operation, installation, testing and maintenance of laser, optics, electronic, electrical and mechanical equipment.
  • Knowledge of laser system technology and laser component adjustment, alignment, replacement, and maintenance.
  • Knowledge of dye lasers, solid state lasers, and fiber lasers.
  • Excellent diagnostic and trouble-shooting skills for digital and analog circuitry, computers (Linux, Windows), video systems and other electronic devices.
  • Ability to read, interpret and apply electronic, mechanical and electrical blueprints and wiring diagrams.
  • Strong skill in written communication to convey information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Skill in using electronic instrumentation such as oscilloscope, digital multi-meter, frequency counters, power supplies and data acquisition equipment.
  • Skill in using mechanical and electromechanical equipment, soldering iron and shop tools.
  • Knowledge and experience in electronic, electrical and mechanical repair and maintenance.
  • Skill in interacting cooperatively and effectively with diverse groups of people with the ability to assist them in achieving their research/observational goals.
  • Skill in working independently and following through on assignments with minimal direction and the ability to document work completed.
  • Ability to work with remote support personnel, either by telephone or e-mail, describing accurately and clearly the symptoms of equipment failures and malfunctions, as well as the sequential corrective actions taken, through trouble logs and databases.
  • Knowledge and experience with cooling and refrigeration equipment.
  • Ability to operate shop tools in a safe and skillful manner.
  • Experience with complex precision instrumentation.
  • Experience with the handling and maintenance of optics.
  • Knowledge of high vacuum systems.


  • Knowledge of and/or familiarity with telescopes and astronomy.
  • Ability to interpret weather maps and local conditions.
  • Experience in a scientific and/or research environment.
  • Knowledge of programming techniques for instrumentation using sequential micro-controllers, closed loop control systems, EEPROMS, temperature controllers, position encoders, etc.
  • Experience working with cryogens - Liquid Nitrogen and Liquid Helium
  • Experience in mechanical fabrication, assembly, and machining.
  • Experience in optical coating.
  • Ability to operate a lathe, milling machine.


  • Selected candidate will be required to pass a pre-employment criminal history background check.
  • Must possess a valid license to drive in the State of California and be able to participate in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) pull notice program. Interviewees will be required to provide a current DMV record.
  • Ability to handle equipment weighing up to 50 pounds, with or without accommodation.
  • Ability to work in highly confined or exposed places.
  • Must be able to climb ladders and work comfortably in high places with body harness and work positioning gear.
  • Because of the nature of the job, incumbent will be required to live at Mt. Hamilton. Residential space is provided for a nominal rent. Resident will be responsible for incurred utilities and telephone costs.
  • Incumbent will routinely work a rotational schedule involving nights, weekends, holidays and during emergencies, plus alternate weekends (with shift differential pay).
  • The University of California has implemented a covering all employees. To be compliant with the policy, covered employees must submit proof of vaccination or have an approved exception or deferral, eight (8) weeks from date of hire.


All UCSC employees must understand and follow job safety procedures, attend required health and safety training, proactively promote safety at work, and promptly report actual and potential accidents and injuries.


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The University of California is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or protected veteran status. UC Santa Cruz is committed to excellence through diversity and strives to establish a climate that welcomes, celebrates, and promotes respect for the contributions of all students and employees.

To ensure review of application materials by the hiring unit, they must be submitted on or before the initial review date (IRD) via the Staff Employment Opportunities web site; A computer is available at the UC Santa Cruz Staff Human Resources Office located at Scotts Valley Center. The Scotts Valley Center is located at 100 Enterprise Way, Suite E100, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. To learn more or to request disability accommodations, call 831-459-2009. Hearing impaired are encouraged to use the California Relay Service at 800-735-2922. UC Santa Cruz is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

published: 01 June 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.