Position Title: Astronomy Assistant
Park Unit: Joshua Tree National Park
Location: Twentynine Palms, California
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 12 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 03/03/2025
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $565.00
Relocation Allowance: $400.00

CURRENT NUMBER OF APPLICANTS: Under 75 (This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first.)

The participant will work under the supervision of two experienced astronomy rangers to develop and deliver formal interpretive programs to the public relative to astronomy, night sky, and light pollution, and will gain significant hands-on experience working with the latest in telescope technology including astrophotography and EAA techniques. Additional opportunity exists to work with Physical Sciences staff to perform field measurements of light pollution, to assist in the preparation of an annual report to DarkSky International, to perform outreach, and to assist in the maintenance and operation of park telescopes and astronomy equipment. Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places in the country to observe the Milky Way. In 2017, Joshua Tree National Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP). Part of this designation is related to the quality of night sky at Joshua Tree National Park, but another important component is how well the park educates the public about light pollution and advocates for preservation of a naturally dark night sky. The participant will have an exciting opportunity to perform interpretive programs, operate telescopes, perform outreach in the community, educate the public about how light pollution can be reduced, and to work with park physical science technicians in the field performing scientific measurements of light pollution.

It is now estimated that one third, or 80% of Americans live in a place where they cannot see the Milky Way. Joshua Tree National Park is one of the last refuges in Southern California where the spectacular Milky Way can be observed. As communities grow, so too does the amount of light radiance being emitted into the sky. Communities that surround Joshua Tree National Park are growing, and the light domes being emitted by these communities are measurable and growing more intense. This trend line makes our efforts to reduce light pollution and preserve dark night skies within the park more important than ever and requires that our messaging reach neighboring communities. Preserving the naturally dark night sky is not only beneficial to stargazers and astronomers, it is critical to nocturnal wildlife species that depend upon a naturally dark nocturnal landscape for survival. Educating the public to raise awareness about how light pollution can be reduced is vital to helping the national parks protect the night sky as a resource. This night sky assistant position will substantially help Joshua Tree National Park in its efforts to address important light pollution issues and achieve its interpretive and education goals for 2025.


Participant will develop and deliver three products. One astronomy program involving telescopes, one light pollution PowerPoint presentation, and will modernize/update an existing draft SOP relative to operating the park's astronomy equipment.


Applicants should be advanced undergraduate or graduate students whose educational background and career objectives include astronomy, science, physics, and natural resource conservation. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate knowledge of astronomy and operation of telescopes. Previous experience in astronomy, operation of telescopes, PowerPoint presentations, and public speaking or interpretation is desired.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (“Green Card holder”). Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required. The applicant must be available to participate for 12 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

Joshua Tree National Park is a rugged wilderness park of almost 800,000 acres and encompasses two distinct desert ecosystems – the Colorado Desert to the south, and the Mojave Desert to the north. Temperature extremes exist with cold winters and hot summers. The Night Sky Assistant position requires a mix of office work at park headquarters, interpretive and astronomy activities in the park interior, visits to community locations, and some flexibility to work from the housing location when/if necessary. As a night sky position, the work will require some late nights in the park interior, cool temperatures, and the lifting of astronomy cases weighing up to 50 pounds. The dorm housing is located next to the picturesque Black Rock campground. Amenities can be found in downtown Yucca Valley which is a 10-minute drive from the dorm housing. A personal vehicle is required to travel between the dorm and park headquarters.


  • Applicant must have a valid driver's license to drive a government vehicle.
  • A personal vehicle is REQUIRED for this position.

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. Housing will be provided and include dorm room-style living. This includes a private bedroom or possibly shared room with bunk beds, a shared TV room, large kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities onsite. Pots, pans, and basic kitchen appliances are included. Participant should bring a twin sheet set. Family members and/or pets are not allowed in dorm housing. Likely housing location would be Black Rock dorms, which are located adjacent to the beautiful Black Rock campground, within a woodland of Joshua trees, and with hiking trails accessible from the dorm.

Astronomy, Interpretation, Education, Night Skies, Telescope Operation.

This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications, or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first. Once you begin applying for a position, the application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and return later to complete it. Applicants can apply for up to five Scientists in Parks Intern positions per winter. You need to complete a separate application for each position in order to be considered. You should receive a confirmation email after successfully submitting an application. Sometimes institutional email filters/settings can redirect or block emails related to the application. We recommend watching spam, junk, and promotional email folders in case your service delivers messages there. Please visit How to Apply for additional resources and information about applying (i.e., learn what materials to have ready for applying, find a worksheet that previews application questions, etc.)