Advert. No. 2020_0032
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..


Fellowship Programme Chile 2020/2021


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Deadline 15/10/2020

Reach new heights at Europe's leading astronomy organisation

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) invites applications for the ESO Fellowship Scheme 2019/2020. The scheme is designed to help young scientists to develop their independent research programmes and successfully reach the next step of their scientific career by:

  • Developing their scientific profiles, benefiting from a rich and structured scientific environment where they can interact with more senior scientists;
  • Becoming mature and independent researchers who will develop their own research projects and contribute effectively to collaborative scientific endeavours;
  • Getting prepared to take on higher scientific, technical or supervisory/managerial responsibilities in future positions.

Fellowships are available both at ESO's Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, and at ESO's astronomy centre in Santiago, Chile. ESO Fellows are expected to actively participate in ESO's scientific life by proposing and getting involved in the organisation of scientific workshops, co-supervising PhD students, coordinating thematic research groups, joining scientific committees, organising seminars, writing competitive grant and telescope proposals, etc.

For more information about the fellowship programme and ESO's astronomical research activities, please see:

The ESO Fellowship Programme: ESO-Germany

The ESO Headquarters is situated in one of the most active research centres in Europe, next to the campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), boasting one of the highest concentrations of astronomers. High-calibre scientists, instrument experts, and other professionals are all within easy reach, providing fellows with valuable opportunities to start collaborations and learn new skills. ESO's offices are adjacent to the Max Planck Institutes for Astrophysics and for Extra-terrestrial Physics and close to the observatory of Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University. On the Garching campus, ESO also participates in the ORIGINS Cluster, which brings together nearly 200 scientists, and the IMPRS Programme for PhD students. For a list of current ESO staff and fellows, and their research interests please see

The ESO Fellowship positions in Garching are 3 years in duration. In addition to developing their independent research programmes, ESO Garching Fellows are expected to engage in functional work for 25% of their time. During this fraction of time, Fellows are trained in crucial areas of high-level technology and/or actively participate and contribute to ESO projects which they select from activities proposed by different departments. Details on the nature of the projects can be found at

The ESO Fellowship Programme: ESO-Chile

The ESO Vitacura Office, in Santiago, is where ESO Fellows have the possibility to interact with Instrument and System Scientists, and Science Operations Managers from Paranal, ALMA, La Silla, and APEX Observatories. There is also a continuous flow of visiting astronomers and observers that allows stimulating scientific interactions with the international community. ESO Chile is an excellent place to increase collaborations with the Chilean astronomical community and with astronomers at other international observatories located in the country. The Joint ALMA Observatory is also located on ESO's Vitacura campus, further enhancing the scientific environment available to ESO Chile Fellows. For a list of current ESO astronomers and their research interests, please see:

ESO Fellowships in Chile are granted for 4 years. During the first three years, the Fellows are assigned to one of the Science Operation groups of Paranal or ALMA, where they contribute at a level of 80 nights per year, corresponding to 50% of the working time. Fellows with duties at ALMA will have opportunities to participate in ALMA operations, including observing at the telescope, data processing, software testing, serving as technical experts in the ALMA proposal review process, and developing new capabilities for the array. At Paranal, Fellows act as support astronomers, doing service-mode observations or helping visiting astronomers to achieve their science goals. They are also expected to join an Instrument Operations Team. In the role of Instrument Fellow, they gain an in-depth knowledge of different aspects of a given instrument such as engineering and technological characteristics, specific operational aspects and data reduction. In these environments, ESO Chile Fellows have the opportunity to develop useful skills in project management, team coordination, and communication in a multi-disciplinary environment. Exploiting this unique mix of technical knowledge and their close contact with the science carried out at the Observatories, ESO Chile Fellows can build a solid research programme that can boost their future career. Due to the enhanced duties and responsibilities at the Observatory, we have a preference for Fellows who demonstrate that they can understand science cases outside of their own field of research, communicate well, work independently, manage their time between science- and operations-related tasks, and are able to take personal responsibility.

ESO Chile Fellows may choose to spend the fourth year either at ESO's astronomy centre in Santiago, at ESO Headquarters in Garching, at any astronomy/astrophysics institute in an ESO member state or in ESO's strategic partner, Australia. There are no functional duties during the fourth year except in the case that the fourth year is spent at ESO Chile, where Fellows are expected to carry out functional work for up to 25% of their time. Under certain conditions, the Fellow may also be hosted by a Chilean institution where they will be eligible to apply for time on all telescopes in Chile through competition for Chilean observing time.


The programme is open to applicants who will have achieved their PhD in astronomy, physics or a related discipline before 1 November 2021. Early-career scientists from all astrophysical fields are welcome to apply. Observational, theoretical and computational astrophysics are all areas where ESO Fellows can benefit from one of the most vibrant and stimulating scientific settings anywhere in the world.

Remuneration and Contract

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary and allowances, comprehensive social benefits, and we provide financial support for relocating families. Details of the Terms of Service for ESO Fellows including details of remuneration are available at: ESO's conditions of employment at,


If you are interested in enhancing your early career through an ESO Fellowship at the most advanced ground-based observatory in the world, then please apply by completing the web application form available at

Candidates are asked to include the following material as part of their application:

  • a cover/motivation letter;
  • the application form in PDF format, with all the relevant parts completed. The form is available as Word, LibreOffice and Latex templates and can be downloaded at;
  • the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your scientific work and willing to provide a recommendation letter. Referees will be automatically invited to submit a recommendation letter by the application deadline. Applicants are strongly advised to trigger these invitations (using the web application form) well in advance of the application deadline.

Recruitment Process: Timeline

Depending on whether you are applying for the ESO-Garching or ESO-Chile Fellowship, the schedule of the recruitment process will follow a slightly different format and timeline.

15 October 2020: closing date for applications. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

October - November 2020: review of the applications.

Mid-November 2020: shortlisted candidates are invited to a video interview where they will also be asked to present their science.

In Garching, the interview is done in two stages between 7 and 18 December. In Chile, the Interviews are scheduled between 7 and 11 December.

End of December 2020: offers are sent by the Chair of the Fellows' Selection Committee to the top-ranked candidates. Candidates on the waiting list and unsuccessful applicants are also notified.

Further information

Please find at the following link contact details for questions related to the ESO Fellowship Programme at:

Please follow on some of our current fellows on a Guided Virtual Tour of the ESO sites and hear from them about their experience at ESO. The video provides details about the programme, the application process, life at ESO etc. You can also follow the #ESOfellowship hashtag on Twitter for more information about the programme and current fellows.

No nationality is in principle excluded, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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