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Research Studentships

Johannes Andersen Student Programme at the Nordic Optical Telescope

Johannes Andersen (1943-2020) has been an extremely important person in the history of NOT, being many years member of the NOT Council, and being its director from 2002 till 2013. In the Council, but even more so as director, Johannes has been instrumental in making NOT a modern, flexible and highly efficient telescope that has a scientific output that rivals larger facilities, but his pride and joy was the studentship programme, which he largely shaped to its present form. In his honour, and in recognition of his fundamental contribution, the studentship programme has been named after Johannes.


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 instruments.

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 organised frequently.

Eligibility, conditions, and application procedures


NOT Research Students should normally fulfil the following requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Have a good working knowledge of English, the working language at the NOT; knowledge of Spanish is an advantage.
  5. A driving licence is required.


The conditions for employment as a NOT Research Student are as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 payment.
  4. Students are entitled to rent a room in the NOT apartment, or to accommodation of similar quality and price.
  5. When on duty at the ORM, transport up and down, accommodation, and one meal per day at ORM are provided by NOT.
  6. Office space and appropriate computer facilities at the SAO are provided by NOT.
  7. 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.

The last deadline was Friday, April 28, 2023. Applications received before the deadline are considered on a priority basis, but inquiries are received at any time.

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.

NOT Director
Applications should be sent by e-mail or normal mail to the following address:

NOT Director
Nordic Optical Telescope
Apartado 474, E-38700, Santa Cruz de La Palma, SPAIN
E-mail: Fax:+34 922 434 444

The ownership of the Nordic Optical Telescope is shared between the University of Turku and Aarhus University. It is operated jointly by Aarhus University, the University of Turku and the University of Oslo, representing Denmark, Finland and Norway, the University of Iceland and Stockholm University.

Back to top Last modified: June 12 2024