Research Studentships at the Nordic Optical Telescope
General The Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) is a modern 2.6-m
telescope operated at
the Observatorio del
Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma in the Canaries,
Spain. NOT is the main northern-hemisphere telescope facility for
Nordic astronomy and offers excellent image quality, state-of-the-art
detectors and instruments, and an informal, friendly working
environment. As such, it offers unique hands-on training opportunities
in modern observational astronomy for Nordic astronomy and engineering
students. A full range of information on the facilities, staff, and
environment at NOT is maintained at
the NOT WWW site.
The NOT Research Studentship programme enables students to spend
extended periods at the NOT and take advantage of these
opportunities. NOT students receive a monthly stipend to cover their
living expenses on La Palma and may rent a room at a favourable rate
in the NOT apartment, within walking distance from the Sea Level
Office (see below). Students are free to pursue their thesis work
during 70% of the time and are expected, in return for the financial
support, to spend the remaining 30% introducing and assisting visiting
astronomers in the use of the telescope and instruments, doing tests,
writing software, or similar tasks.
Student projects, at the Ph.D. or M.Sc. level, may be in any field of
observational astronomy, involving optical and near-infrared
observations with the NOT, or they may concern related developments in
optics, detectors and electronics, or in instrument control and data
reduction software. Both astronomy and engineering students are
supported under the programme.
NOT staff has given small scale classes to students on data reduction
with IRAF and FIESTool, principles of detectors, Python programming
and databases. The focus is always on NOT instruments/detectors and on
the data received with NOT instrumentation. The students also have the
possibility to go and visit the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) to see
how observations are made with another telescope with different
The NOT staff on La Palma comprises about 18 astronomers, software and
hardware engineers, technicians, students, and administrative staff
with a versatile range of skills and an informal, family-style working
environment. Most staff members divide their time between the
telescope site at the mountaintop and the Sea Antonio Office (SAO),
close to the main town of Santa Cruz, one hour's drive from the
observatory. The NOT offices have modern computing, data reduction,
and communication facilities and access to a library, meeting rooms
etc. The headquarters of
the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo
are located adjacent to the NOT office, and are connected to a common
coffee room. Joint seminars on scientific or technical subjects are
Eligibility, conditions, and application procedures
NOT Research Students should normally fulfil the following requirements:
- Be enrolled in a Ph.D. (preferred) or advanced MSc programme in
astronomy or relevant technical discipline at a recognised university
or similar institution awarding such degrees. Preference is given to
students from the Nordic countries, and students from non-EU countries
are only accepted under exceptional circumstances.
- Have a strong interest in observational astrophysics and/or
astronomical instrumentation, and preferably also a working knowledge
of the UNIX operating system and one of the standard astronomical data
reduction software packages.
- Be capable and willing to work during day and night time,
occasionally also on weekends or public holidays, at an altitude of
2400 metres above sea level, and to take up residence on La Palma for
the duration of the Studentship.
- Have a good working knowledge of English, the working language at
the NOT; knowledge of Spanish is an advantage. A driving licence is
Conditions The conditions for employment as a NOT Research
Student are as follows:
- The normal duration of a NOT Research Studentship is one year,
with possible extension to 18 months. Studentships of shorter duration
may be agreed. The number of Research Students at any one time may be
limited by financial and space constraints.
- Students are not employees of NOTSA, but receive a monthly
stipend during their stay to defray the additional cost of living on
La Palma. Support for travel to take up the studentship, any
additional health insurance needed, and other financial conditions may
be arranged from case to case.
- The working week is 40 hours. The number of working days per
month is 22 at sea level, or equivalently 12 days and nights per month
at the ORM site. Weekend and night work does not attract over-time
- Students are entitled to rent a room in the NOT apartment, or to
accommodation of similar quality and price.
- When on duty at the ORM, transport up and down, accommodation,
and one meal per day at ORM are provided by NOT.
- Office space and appropriate computer facilities at the SAO are
provided by NOT.
- Like other staff, students work under the authority of the
Director, who determines and coordinates the functional tasks to be
performed during the 30% of their time. The rest of their time is free
for work on their thesis project; a NOT staff member will be assigned
to monitor their progress in cooperation with their thesis supervisor
at their home institute.
How to apply
Applications are invited from time to time, typically half a year
before positions become vacant.
No specific application form is needed, but applications should
specify the candidate's past and present experience, compliance with
the above requirements, motivation for seeking to come to NOT
(e.g. future education or career prospects), and any other information
the candidate wishes to submit for consideration. A CV and an
endorsement by the student's supervisor should be attached. 1-2
letters of reference from persons familiar with the student's work are
welcome, but not required.
Applications should be sent by e-mail to the address below. Any
queries about the studentships may be directed to the same address.
Dr. Th. Augusteijn, Director
The Nordic Optical Telescope Scientific Association is operated
jointly by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.