Advert. no. 2023_0061
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..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world's largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, and on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its Science Operations Department at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, in Chile, ESO is opening a Local Staff Member Position of:

Telescope Instruments Operator


Vacancy closed on 11/12/2023

Deadline 11/12/2023

The successful candidate will operate the Very Large Telescope (VLT) units, as well as the smaller telescopes at Paranal observatory, together with their attached scientific instruments, and may support operations development in the context of the Integrated Operations (IOP) Program that will integrate VLT & ELT into a single observatory.

The Paranal Science Operations Department (PSO) consists of 60 persons of more than a dozen different nationalities. PSO's mission is the production of high-quality astronomical data and to maintain or improve the scientific performance of Paranal's instruments. The Telescope Instruments Operators of the Paranal Science Operations Department work in close collaboration with the astronomers in performing and analysing the observations.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

Core duties:

  • Operate the telescopes and their astronomical instruments at maximum efficiency, while maintaining the security of people and equipment. This includes driving and monitoring the computer-controlled equipment, real-time decision making about scheduling of observations, monitoring weather conditions so to protect the telescope in case of dangerous situation and performing quality control of the astronomical data obtained.
  • Perform basic troubleshooting of the telescopes and instruments. Report, track and assist the department members in diagnosing and resolving (technical & scientific) problems.

Additional duties and responsibilities regarding operations development will be added according to qualification and organisational needs. This may include definition, review, implementation of operation procedures or documentation, monitoring, and characterization of instruments/systems performances, etc. Priority will be given to tasks related to the Integrated Operations (IOP) Program that will integrate VLT & ELT into a single Observatory.

Reports to:

Telescope Instrument Operator Group Leader


Several years of experience operating high technology systems, and/or working in a position requiring real-time risk assessment and decision is highly desirable. Experience with python coding, and analysis of astronomical data is an asset.

Key Competences:

We look for highly motivated persons, with good interpersonal skills, ability to work in teams and an interest in scientific work.

An operative knowledge of LINUX/UNIX is a prerequisite. Proficiency in at least one programming language (preferably python) is highly desirable.


Preferably a university degree in software, electronics engineering or natural sciences, or a superior technical degree in those areas. An educational background in astronomy is not required but is considered an asset.

Language Skills:

The position requires a working knowledge of English.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary and comprehensive medical and educational benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family.

The initial contract is for a period of two years with the possibility of indefinite extension, subject to evaluation. The title or grade may be subject to change according to qualification and the number of years of experience.

Duty Station:

Core duties are performed at Paranal Observatory, near Antofagasta (130 km. South), Chile. The working schedule is a 7-night shift on-site, followed by 7 nights off duty. Accommodation is provided on site.

Depending on operational needs and personal expertise, tasks outside of core duties may be performed at ESO's Vitacura office, or via mobile work in accordance with ESO's mobile working policies.

Career Path: IV


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit ( for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV.

Closing date for applications is 11 December 2023.

The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants.

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. Please visit for further details.


No nationality is excluded, however non-Chilean applicants must have a pertinent working permit, according to Chilean regulations, at the time of the application. The post is equally open to suitably qualified candidates irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

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