SALT Postdoctoral Fellowship

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Southern African Large Telescope
SALT Astronomy Operations
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

SALT Postdoctoral Fellowship


The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), on behalf of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Foundation (Pty) Ltd, is seeking qualified candidates for a SALT Postdoctoral fellowship for a period of up to three years, depending on funding.

The SAAO is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and it is the premier optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, contributing to human capital development for South Africa. Research focus areas include extragalactic astronomy, time domain astrophysics, planetary astronomy and instrumentation development. Its headquarters are in picturesque Cape Town with a Mediterranean climate, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the semi-arid Northern Cape. Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs about 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate the 10-m Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), on behalf of the international SALT Foundation (Pty) Ltd. The Sutherland site also hosts many guest facilities to which our astronomers have access to. More information may be found at and

This position will be mainly based in Cape Town, with some extended periods of stay in Sutherland.



In addition to carrying out their own research, the successful applicant's main responsibility will be to assist in all phases of the refurbishment project of the Medium Resolution (MR) and Low Resolution (LR) etalons of the Fabry-Pérot mode of the Robert Stobie Spectrograph (RSS). The project will be led locally by an expert in the field, thus full training can be provided, if needed. Specific responsibilities are:

  • assisting with the development, acceptance tests, re-calibration, re-commissioning and performance verification of both the MR and LR etalons, both in the lab and on sky;
  • providing support on this mode to the SALT Astronomy Operations team and to the wider SAAO and SALT Community;
  • developing a process for data reduction for both modes;
  • preparing and completing all relevant documentation;
  • ensuring knowledge transfer to the SALT Astronomy Operations team within the timeframe of this position;
  • carrying out own astronomical research using SALT, SAAO and/or other facilities.


Minimum requirements:

  • PhD in Astronomy or related field (formal requirements for a PhD passed by the application deadline).
  • 3 years of experience in optical observational astronomical research and relevant data reduction packages or in astronomical instrumentation development.
  • Proven ability to carry out own astronomical research.
  • Willingness to work in a team.
  • Proven aptitude to quickly understand complex systems and to communicate clearly and effectively.


Desirable Work Experience

  • Research experience using Fabry-Pérot imaging spectrographs would be a very strong advantage.
  • Instrumental and/or software development experience, such as data reduction pipelines or web-based software, would be an advantage.
  • Proficiency in some of the following programming languages would be an advantage:
    • Fortran
    • Python
    • MySQL
    • LabVIEW
  • Interest in PR and outreach, using social media or otherwise, is also an asset.


Applicants should send a cover letter, a brief statement of a research plan and a copy of their CV to the Head of SALT Astronomy Operations, Dr. Encarni Romero Colmenero ([email protected]) and to the SAAO HR Manager, Linda Tobin ([email protected]), and arrange for three reference letters to be sent to both addresses.

The filling of this position will be in line with the NRF's Employment Equity Policy and Plan.

For further information please contact Dr. Romero Colmenero at the above address.

Applications should be submitted no later than 3 April 2020.


Application Details

Publication Start Date
2020 Mar 06
Application Deadline
2020 Apr 03


Dr. Encarni Romero Colmenero