Principal Telescope Technician Mechanician

Location: Mt Hamilton
Job ID: 52387


**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 Principal Telescope Technician Mechanician 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: 05-15-2023


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.


The University of California Observatories (UCO) is a Multi-Campus Research Unit (MRU) funded via the University of California Office of the President, Office of Research and headquartered on the UC Santa Cruz campus. UCO operates on behalf of astronomers, researchers, postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students across the UC system who are engaged in research, education and training in optical and infrared astronomy. In addition to managing the technical, physical plant and public outreach operations of the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, California, UCO provides the scientific and administrative liaison to the shared Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and the international collaboration for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project. UCO comprises extensive scientific and technical staff and facilities at UC Santa Cruz and Lick Observatory as well as administrative and business services. The Lick Observatory telescopes are scheduled 363 days per year, weather permitting. Additionally, Lick hosts about 30,000 members of the public via its summer programs and casual visitors.

More information can be found here:


Under the general direction of the Lick Observatory Superintendent, the incumbent performs duties in support of astronomical research at the Lick Observatory, Mount 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 120-inch Shane Telescope and all technical aspects of scientific observations, including electronic, electrical and mechanical problem solving. The incumbent also functions as an electronics technician and mechanician performing assembly, installation, trouble shooting and repair of complex electronic instrumentation and related support equipment.


Budgeted Salary: $35.05 / Hourly. Under California law, the University of California, Santa Cruz is required to provide a reasonable estimate of the compensation rate for this role and should not offer a salary above the posted rate. The salary shown here is the rate the University reasonably expects to pay.

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-Fri
  • Shift Includes: Days, Evenings, Nights, Weekends

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


60% - Telescope Operations

  • Set up the relative parameters of an observation based upon instruction received directly from the astronomer or researcher. Optimize observing time by accurate and timely computation of object positions and interpretation of finding charts to locate proper objects. Monitor and/or operate low light level CCD guide camera and autoguiding system, computers, data acquisition systems and related equipment.
  • Monitor and evaluate dome orientation, windscreen, telescope position and tracking, weather conditions and electrical and mechanical components (such as pumps, motors, hydraulic systems) that support the operating systems. Based on these evaluations, advise astronomers and researchers on how to maximize the equipment and their time.
  • Acquire and maintain 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.
  • Create and record a written nightly report describing weather conditions and operational malfunctions; the report may include suggestions for possible solutions to problems.
  • Assist/support astronomers with Adaptive Optics NGS/LGS operations.
  • Independently determine the need to shut down the telescope during a viewing session if weather or other conditions jeopardize the equipment.
  • Perform electronics and computing operations.
  • Install and maintain complex electronic equipment, often containing one-of-a-kind solid state digital and/or analog circuitry. Install and maintain infrared and adaptive optics instrumentation. Perform maintenance and trouble-shooting on instrumentation circuitry.
  • Operate and troubleshoot mini-and-micro-computers, workstations and peripherals in a Windows/Linux environment. When timely repairs are not possible, develop alternative methods to minimize telescope down time.
  • Document and explain equipment malfunctions and repair procedures, through written logs and databases, for faculty and staff. Consult with and advise astronomers and researchers on the use of telescopes and associated instruments, electronic devices and computers. Assist observers with the installation of custom instruments, helping to interface them with existing telescope electronics. Perform equipment readiness tests before astronomers begin work.
  • Archive data and prepare computer systems for next observer.

40% - Mechanical and Electromechanical Maintenance

  • Repair and maintain Equipment and Domes.
  • Install 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, write 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.
  • Use a 15-ton overhead bridge crane and rigging to move large parts of the telescope.
  • Diagnose and repair electrical malfunctions in motors, motor starters, switches, relays, low voltage control circuits, 3-phase 220 volt A.C. circuits, and any electrical apparatus on the telescope and domes. Diagnose and repair high-pressure hydraulic systems used for the telescope fluid bearings and worm drive lubrication, including pump overhaul and maintenance. Diagnose and repair problems and perform 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.
  • Design and fabricate parts, fixtures, and mounting brackets for scientific equipment installations, requiring the use of precision measuring devices and the skillful use of all machine shop tools. Aid astronomers in optical alignment and focusing, using auto-collimators, lasers and various alignment tools.
  • Install, maintain and repair refrigeration equipment, including special cooling devices for astronomical instruments. Weld and fabricate parts using Tungsten Inert Gas, oxyacetylene, resistance spot welding and metal-electrode arc welding and flame cutting processes.
  • Perform aluminization and optical maintenance.
  • Inspect all optical telescope and instrument surfaces for cleanliness and safely clean as necessary. Perform monthly CO2 snow cleaning of all primary mirror coatings and other optical surfaces when necessary.
  • Assist opticians in acid stripping and cleaning of coatings and contaminants from optical surfaces.
  • Independently operate the Shane red vacuum chamber, prepare materials needed for coatings, evaluate chamber data, and make adjustments and improvements including upgrades and repairs as needed.


  • Substantial experience in performing technical tasks in the operation, installation, testing, repair and maintenance of electronic and mechanical equipment.
  • Excellent diagnostic and trouble-shooting skills for digital and analog circuitry, micro and mini-computers, video systems and other electronic devices.
  • Ability to read, interpret and apply schematic, mechanical and electrical blueprints and wiring diagrams.
  • 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.
  • 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. Ability to address sequential corrective actions taken through trouble logs and databases.
  • Knowledge and experience with air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
  • Ability to operate a lathe, milling machine and all 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.
  • Ability to weld.
  • Detail-Oriented: Shows rigorous and meticulous attention to detail.
  • Independent: Functions effectively without assistance or direction from others.
  • Analytical: Draws conclusions from data in a logical, systematic way.
  • Hard-Working: Works vigorously, often putting in long hours.
  • Ethical: Guided by a set of core values and beliefs to act with integrity and honesty.
  • Quick Study: Masters situations or information easily and quickly.


  • 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.


  • Because of the nature of the job, incumbent must be able to be on site within an hour of an emergency. Residential space is provided for a nominal rent. Resident will be responsible for incurred utilities and telephone costs.
  • Must possess a current forklift operator license or have the ability to obtain it within 6 months from date of hire.
  • 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 perform work in a rugged physical environment and inclement weather with challenging infrastructure requirements.
  • Ability to work in crawl spaces.
  • Ability to do occasional work in confined spaces such as attics and trenches while bending, stooping and/or kneeling with the possibility of being exposed to live electrical circuits and machinery.
  • Must be able to climb ladders and work comfortably in high places with body harness and work positioning gear.
  • Ability to handle equipment weighing up to 50 pounds, with or without accommodation.
  • Ability to conduct outdoor site visits, including use of required personal protective equipment, as required to conduct investigations, inspections, or view work in place.
  • Ability to work nights, weekends, holidays, during emergencies and on-call, as needed.
  • Selected candidate will be required to complete training within established time frames as directed including UC compliance training.
  • Ability to work safely in areas where hazardous materials are present or stored.
  • Ability to wear a respirator in accordance with the California Code of Regulations Title 8, 5144.
  • Ability to wear proper safety attire (long pants, closed-toe shoes, etc.) and personal protective equipment common in a laboratory setting.
  • Ability to read signs and follow directions on labels that are written in English as well as ability to read and understand Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and the proper use of chemical compounds.
  • Ability to travel within a defined regional or service area.
  • 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.


Attach your resume and cover letter when applying for this job opening. Do not attach any documents to 'My Activities'. Visit our tutorial for detailed instructions on our applicant process.


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.


View full job description and access on-line application:

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.

The University of California is an Equal 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.

published: 28 April 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.