June 10, 2013
Tags: JOB

Job Opportunity: Planetarium Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Royal Museum’s Greenwich offers a wide range of highly successful astronomy programmes at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, including a popular schools programme and an award-winning public programme. The Peter Harrison Planetarium is an integral aspect of our offer for all audiences, providing the public with opportunities to engage with fascinating topics in astronomy and space exploration. The observatory’s public offer aims to bring the latest astronomical research to as wide an audience as possible, placing it in a unique historical context. Our offer is managed, developed and delivered by the Science Learning & Public Engagement Department.

The Planetarium Astronomer will be principally responsible for the development and delivery of planetarium shows, the coordination and communication of planetarium programming and the maintenance of planetarium technology and content. The post holder will play a key role in realising our ambitions for educational and commercial planetarium show production. The post holder will support all other strands of schools and public programming.

This role represents an exciting opportunity for science communicators and science educators to engage with a wide range of audiences in a range of settings. As a member of the Science Learning & Public Engagement Department, the Planetarium Astronomer will be expected to deliver school workshops, planetarium shows, observing events and outreach to audiences of all ages and abilities and to support the wider activity of the Museum, including the development and planning programmes, exhibitions and digital resources for schools and the general public both on-site and off-site.

Reporting to: Head of Science Learning & Public Engagement Department

Key responsibilities:

  • To present planetarium shows for schools and the general public as required.
    To develop high quality live and pre-recorded planetarium shows for use in the PHP and wider distribution, from creative concept development and storyboarding to computer programming and multimedia content development.
  • To work within the framework of current learning, science communication and public engagement theory and practice in all areas of development and delivery.
  • To prepare pre-recorded shows for commercial distribution in collaboration with distributors, providing key AV files, script translations, marketing materials and associated educational resources.
  • To support the activity of press and events through the development and delivery planetarium content in collaboration with media and commercial clients, as time and resources allow.
  • To work with external contractors (e.g. animators, sound artists, narrators, scriptwriters, distributors) in consultation with the head of department to support of live and pre-recorded show development.
  • To work with institutions involved in Further/Higher Education, astronomical research, the space industry and planetarium sector to obtain support for key projects.
  • To maintain planetarium hardware, software and content, providing technical support and liaising with support teams inside and outside of the museum.
  • To train and guide the team to provide technical support for planetarium, ensuring that we are able to remain operational 7 days a week .
  • To identify external pre-recorded shows for licensing as required, negotiating prices, arranging for the assessment of shows in the dome prior to licensing and ensuring shows are installed and tested in a timely fashion.
  • To organise and communicate opportunities for staff viewings and provide show descriptions for visitor assistants and sales staff to support on-site visitor enquiries and ticket sales.
  • To support the head of department in the development of funding proposals associated with show production and system upgrade projects and in planning the planetarium programme.
  • To deliver school workshops as required, ensuring continuity of provision and maintaining expertise in the delivery of face-to-face learning.
  • To deliver outreach in conjunction with the wider team at appropriate regional science festivals and events or in collaboration with other organisations.
  • To represent RMG at key national and international planetarium conferences.
  • To work closely and collaboratively with the Astronomy Education Manager and the wider team in the development of school planetarium shows and supporting resources, ensuring an integrated schools offer.
  • To work closely and collaboratively with the wider department to support the planning, development and delivery of wider school and public programmes.
  • To participate in consultation with teachers and pupils to develop our audience awareness, inform the development of school planetarium shows and develop our local, regional and national audiences.
  • To support the Public Astronomer in the delivery of media interviews as availability allows as other duties permit.
  • To work 1 weekend in four to support 7-day-a-week planetarium operations.
  • To be available to provide telephone support for planetarium maintenance at weekends and during bank holidays.
  • Any other duties as reasonably requested by the Head of Science Learning & Public Engagement or the Astronomy Education Manager.

Skills and experience:


  • Educated to degree level with a BSc in physics, astrophysics or any other area of related study.
  • Excellent of computer literacy, including technical knowledge of hardware and software and proven ability to learn new software applications and mark-up languages.
  • Good multimedia software skills.
  • Wide-ranging knowledge of modern astronomy and space exploration with an interest in the history of both fields.
  • Excellent public speaking skills, with experience of working with a wide range of audiences in a range of settings.
  • Demonstrable experience of teaching or public engagement in schools, museums, science centres or university outreach departments.
  • Experience of using cutting edge science to support learning through innovative and imaginative programmes and projects.
  • Creative thinker with the ability to inspire creativity in others, with a real passion for science education and public engagement.
  • Effective and committed team player.
  • Excellent written communication skills with experience in producing materials for different audiences.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent organisational and time-keeping skills.
  • Ability to work independently to tight deadlines.


  • A relevant post-graduate qualification (e.g. PhD or MSc) in Astrophysics,
  • Planetary Science, Science Communication or Teaching.

  • Experience of presenting in a planetarium and producing planetarium shows or similar digital content.
  • Experience of using modelling, image or audio manipulation software.
  • Good understanding of primary and secondary education.
  • Experience of working with the media for TV and radio.

Terms and conditions:
Salary: £23,000 - £30,000

The post holder will work a 41 hour week, core hours Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm with an additional hour to be worked in agreement with line management.

The post holder will also be required to work one weekend in four, according to a roster, to ensure operational cover for the planetarium.

Some after-hours work will also be required to support evening events and carry out essential maintenance. The post holder will be eligible for overtime for specific activities agreed with their line manager.

Closing date: 7 June 2013. Closing date extended to 14 June.
Interview date: 24 June 2013.

To apply please email a CV and covering letter to [here] or post to Human Resources, National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF.

Please also take the time to complete an equal opportunities monitoring form.

We regret we are unable to reply to every applicant. If you do not hear from us within three weeks of the closing date please assume you have not been shortlisted.

The Museum holds the ‘two ticks’ disability symbol and will guarantee an interview to disabled candidates who meet the essential criteria. Please indicate clearly in your covering letter if you wish to be considered under this scheme.

– via Royal Museums Greenwich

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