Lick Observatory Principal Telescope Technician

Location: Mt Hamilton
Job ID: 60122


**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 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 / Lick Observatory 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


The University of California has implemented a Vaccination Policy covering all employees. Employees, including new hires, are required to comply with any applicable policies relating to the University of California's COVID-19 vaccine program.


For full consideration, applicants should attach their resume and cover letter when applying for a job opening. For guidance related to the application process or if you are experiencing difficulties when applying, please review the on our Talent Acquisition website.


Application materials submitted by 11:59 pm on the IRD will be routed to the hiring unit for consideration. Materials submitted after the IRD will ONLY be forwarded at the request of the hiring unit. To ensure your application is routed for consideration, submit your materials before 11:59 p.m. on the IRD. Talent Acquisition cannot accept application materials outside of the jobs portal, and is unable to update submitted applications on an applicant's behalf, or forward communications to the hiring units. For more information about the IRD and the applicant review process,

The IRD for this job is: 10-23-2023


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 at:


Under 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 performing assembly, installation, troubleshooting and repair of complex electronic instrumentation and equipment.


Budgeted Salary: $36.28/Hourly.

Under California law, the University of California, Santa Cruz is required to post a reasonable estimate of the compensation for this role. The salary shown above is the budgeted amount the University reasonably expects to pay and the salary extended should not exceed this posted amount.

Benefits Level Eligibility: Full benefits

Schedule Information:

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

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


50% - 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 auto guiding 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 operations.
  • Independently determine the need to shut down the telescope during a viewing session if weather or other conditions jeopardize the equipment.

50% - Electronics and Computing Operations - Special Equipment Maintenance

  • 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 troubleshooting 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.
  • Perform CCD dewar changes and evaluate data taker to verify correct calibration and operation.
  • Assist with focus and instrument changes. Assist with removal, preparation, aluminization, reinstallation and alignment of components.
  • Assist with mechanical and electromechanical maintenance.


  • Substantial experience in performing technical tasks in the operation, installation, testing 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 interpret and apply schematic prints 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, as well as the sequential corrective actions taken, through trouble logs and databases.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Ability to work long periods of time at a computer with or without accommodation.
  • Ability to perform essential physical job functions.
  • 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.
  • Ability to work in conditions of variable temperature/weather with possible exposure to strong, unpleasant odors, high levels of noise and vibrations, and exposure to dust and allergens.
  • Ability to ascend/descend ladders 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 occasionally work overtime with little or no advance notice.
  • Ability to work on-call.
  • Ability to respond to emergencies after hours as necessary.
  • Ability to work overtime including evenings, nights, weekends and holidays to meet operational needs, and work an alternate work schedule shift as required.
  • 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.
  • Per the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), this position has been identified as a Mandated Reporter. The selected candidate will be required to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect as defined by CANRA and will be required to sign a Statement Acknowledging Requirement to Report Child Abuse prior to commencing employment. CANRA Penal Codes, and related definitions, requirements, and responsibilities may be obtained

Other special conditions of employment that apply to this position: Because of the nature of the job, incumbent must be able to be on site within an hour in the case of an emergency. 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 night and alternate weekend shifts (with shift differential pay). Ability to handle equipment weighing up to 50 pounds, with or without accommodation. Ability to work in crawl spaces. Must be able to climb ladders and work comfortably in high places with body harness and work positioning gear. Ability to work in high and exposed places, as well as close confined spaces.


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.


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: 10 October 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.