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Job Title:
Astrophysicist, IS-1330, Grades 7-9; $50,089 - $79,650 annually
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment
Job Location:
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

All qualified candidates. First consideration maybe made 14 days after the opening date. Selection may be made at either the grade 7 or 9 grade level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 9. A candidate selected at grade 7 may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher grade level, up to grade 9, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.


The purpose of the position is twofold: (1) providing technical support for science planning and operation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), including planning Chandra science observations and participating in the daily operations of the Observatory; (2) providing computer-related support of X-ray astronomy operations and research with the Observatory, including coding, modifying, testing and maintaining software for mission planning; developing and maintaining documentation; and drafting and maintaining materials for websites.

The employee in this position provides technical scientific support of X-ray astronomy research and space observatory operations using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In concert with scientific staff, Astrophysicists plan and schedule observations. The Astrophysicists also are involved in coding, modifying, debugging, and documenting software for mission planning; developing and maintaining databases; drafting and maintaining materials for websites; and participating in the daily operations of the Chandra Observatory.

Grade 7: The individual is at the developmental trainee level, where assignments combine performance of work with orientation and supervised on-the-job-training. Assignments are designed to develop the employee for work at a higher level.

Grade 9: Duties may include activities such as specifying, testing, writing, modifying, debugging, and/or documenting software for user support proposal planning, mission planning, simulations, and modeling; running software and analyzing data output; developing and analyzing algorithms; developing and maintaining databases; and drafting and maintaining materials for web sites.


All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements:
A. Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science or electronics. The course work must have included differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy and/or physics.


B. Combination of education and experience - at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, mathematics, and electronics with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below:

Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 5 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included modifying and maintaining software for astronomy projects, providing technical support for an astronomical observatory, or carrying out research projects in physics or astronomy.


Completion of one-year of graduate level education OR Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) when it provided the applicant with the criteria necessary to do the work of the position. For SAA requirements, please go to OPM website:

Grade 9: 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to at least grade 7 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included developing and documenting software for astronomical research or operations, completing research projects in physics or astronomy, or providing operational support for an astronomical observatory.


2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree

NOTE: Education and experience may be combined for all grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable

Conditions of Employment

You must be fully vaccinated for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.


Have an approved Reasonable Accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements. Please see additional information regarding reasonable accommodations below.  

Additional Vacancy Language Regarding COVID-19

The Smithsonian Institution has a mandate requiring all employees (federal and trust), affiliated staff (including volunteers, interns, and fellows), and the contractors who work with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of the employee’s duty location or work arrangement (e.g., onsite, telework, remote work, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If selected, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination by November 22, 2021 or before appointment or onboarding with the Smithsonian Institution, if after November 22. The Smithsonian Institution will provide additional information regarding what information or documentation will be needed and how you can request a legally required exemption from this requirement. This requirement applies to employees, affiliated staff, contractors who are working on-site, and those teleworking in whole or in part. Limited exemptions to the Smithsonian Institution’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be considered on a case-by-case basis for selected candidates who inform the Smithsonian that they cannot be vaccinated because of a disability, including certain medical conditions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers contraindications to the vaccine, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Additional information and instructions regarding Smithsonian’s COVID-19 mandate will be provided at the time of selection.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE We will only accept applications on line for this position.  For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit:  USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace

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