Apprenticeship Opportunities
at the
US Naval Observatory

Summer Student Opportunities at the U.S. Naval Observatory:
Washington, DC, Flagstaff, AZ & Colorado Springs, CO

Work in summer positions is closely supervised by a designated mentor and may involve any of the following activities: assisting scientists in planning and collecting measurements or predicting astronomical phenomena; analyzing data according to established procedures; preparing reports, diagrams, charts, and graphs, as needed; developing software to improve the accuracy or efficiency of data analysis, or to account for phenomena not previously considered. These duties generally require the use of personal computers, including word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics packages, statistical software, and specialized programs.

High School Interns:

For High School students, the Science & Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) is the proper application route. Please see for information regarding our summer student program for high school students administered by the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) High School The deadline here is 23 October 2015. This is an eight week program. Program Dates:

            Washington, DC:            27 June to 19 August
            Flagstaff,  AZ:            27 June to 19 August (somewhat flexible)
            Colorado Springs, CO:      12 June to 12 August (somewhat flexible)

College Interns:

The program is designed as a 10 week internship during the summer of 2016.

For college students the Naval Resarch Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) is available. Please see for information regarding our summer student program for college students also administered by ASEE. Their deadline is 23 October 2015 as well.

Program Dates:

            Possible Start Dates:      23 May, 6 June, 20 June
            Possible End Dates:        29 July, 12 August, 26 August

Description of Research Areas at the Observatory:

The U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) provides astronomical and timing data required by the Navy and other components of the Department of Defense for navigation, precise positioning, and command, control, and communications. To support these responsibilities, the observatory carries out vigorous programs of research, instrument development, and astronomical observations. Established in 1830, the observatory is one of the oldest scientific organizations in the Federal Government. Today, USNO is one of the preeminent authorities in the world in astrometry, Earth rotation measurement, precise time, fundamental reference frames, and solar system dynamics.

USNO is a small institution, with a total technical staff of about 60 in Washington, 20 in Flagstaff and 3 in Colorado Springs. The technical staff is all civilian, with a high proportion of Ph.D.s in astronomy and physics. Astronomical observations are carried out in both Washington and Flagstaff, although dark-sky observing is done at Flagstaff, where several ongoing observing programs are supported on 1.5-meter and smaller telescopes and the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI is a joint project with the Naval Research Laboratory). Washington is home to the 0.7-meter (26-inch) refracting telescope, the U.S. Master Clock (an ensemble of over 70 atomic frequency standards), an experimental atomic "fountain" clock, and the Mark 4 VLBI correlator. The USNO library, one of the most complete astronomical libraries in the world, is also located in Washington. Many USNO programs involve partnerships with other national or foreign laboratories and international organizations. Most research programs are unclassified and results are published in the open professional literature.

Current areas of active research involve all-sky astrometric surveys (ground- and space-based), stellar dynamics and astrophysics, binary star orbits, long-baseline radio and optical interferometry, 2D sensor arrays (optical and near-infrared), speckle interferometry, Earth rotation dynamics, astronomical reference frames, astrometry and dynamics of solar system objects, artificial satellite orbits, photometric standards, planetary nebulae, quasar structure monitoring, atomic clock development, clock ensemble characterization and control, satellite 2-way time transfer, numerical and statistical techniques, and automated daytime stellar imaging for navigation.