If you do want to become an astronomer, then you will probably need a degree in either Astronomy itself or Physics. Since astronomy contains a lot of physics, many universities now offer degrees in Astrophysics, which combine Physics and Astronomy. Astronomy is the study of the stars, planets, and galaxies that make up our universe. It can be a challenging and rewarding career that could lead to amazing discoveries about the way space works. Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation).
If you have a passion for the night sky, you can translate that into a career as an astronomer by getting good grades in physics and mathematics. You should then develop the skills and experience necessary to land a good professional position as an astronomer at an observatory or even a space agency like NASA.
Careers in Astronomy
Become an Astronomer: Astronomy is a good field if you have scientific and analytical skills. If you want the highest chances of getting a job, get a Ph.D. in astronomy, as many organizations, such as NASA, require you to get the degree.
- Getting the Necessary Education
- Get good grades in high school physics, mathematics, and chemistry.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in science, with a focus on astronomy or physics.
- Get a master’s degree in science. Most astronomers have a master’s degree in science as well as an undergraduate degree. This degree can take at least two years to complete.
- Pursue a Ph.D. in a particular area of astronomy. Doing a Ph.D. gives you the opportunity to study a particular area of astronomy, such as radio, solar, cosmos, or galactic astronomy. You will need to take classes that cover a particular area of astronomy.
- Complete your D. dissertation and take the qualifying exams. To get your Ph.D., you will need to create a dissertation proposal. Your dissertation should provide a deep study of a particular topic in the field of astronomy.
- Developing the Skills and Experience
- Study the universe with a telescope. Get a telescope with a big aperture and a wide range of magnification so you can see the stars, the moon, and the galaxies in the universe.
- Join an astronomy club or society. Learn more about astronomy by joining an astronomy club at your school or an astronomy society in your area. This will allow you to meet others interested in astronomy and focus more on your goal of becoming an astronomer.
- Learn how to use science-related software programs. Take a class on chemistry, physics, or mathematical software programs so you can become proficient at using them.
- Get better at working in a team. Participate in class discussions at school or create a study group where you meet and work as a team on assignments.
- Improve your writing and public speaking skills.
- Getting a Position as an Astronomer
- Look for a postdoctoral fellowship to be a competitive job candidate. If you earn your D. in astronomy, you can qualify for research positions at a university. These positions allow you to gain work experience and focus on your area of expertise in astronomy.
- Get a teaching position at a university. Become a professor of astronomy at the undergraduate or graduate level. Look for open positions at your local university or universities out of state.
- Apply for open positions at an observatory. Another option is to apply to work at an observatory as the resident astronomer. Working at an observatory allows you to interact with the public.
- Look for positions in the aerospace or computer science industry. Some people who study to be an astronomer end up working in these areas, especially if they do not want to work in academia. These positions may also be ideal if you’d prefer to work directly with other astronomers and scientists on projects.
A List of Careers for Astronomers Outside of Science
- Analyst / Data Scientist
- Consulting: At aerospace, software and other technical-oriented firms
- Energy: Possibility of working in research and development for public or private sector
- Medical physics: Work in clinics and hospitals as a medical physicist, in the areas of diagnosis and treatment, and Possibility of work in medical research.
- Meteorology/Climate science
- Patent agency/law: Patent examiner, Patent attorney
- Publishing: Scientific publishing, Educational publishing
- Science communication: Outreach in institutions such as museums and science centers, Science journalism, and Press officer at scientific institutions
- Software development: Diverse job opportunities, depending on programming experience, Possibility to work as a free-lancer, and scientific programming at research facilities
- Technical / Engineering: IT services, Engineering services (at government or private sector), Research and development
- Space / Aeronautics
- Teaching: Teaching at schools and Teaching at non-research colleges
- Scientific translation: Translation of scientific or technical texts, according to your area of expertise, Possibility to work independently (free-lance or starting your own firm)
- Science policy: Posts at various government organizations, most notably ministries
Fellowship, Internships, and Courses:
NASA Hubble Fellowship Program
The Space Telescope Science Institute in collaboration with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) is pleased to announce the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) on behalf of NASA, at the California Institute of Technology and the Chandra X-ray Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The NHFP is open to applicants of any nationality who have received a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral-level research degree in astronomy, physics, or a related discipline. The NHFP Fellow will receive support for health insurance, relocation costs, travel, computing services, publications, and other direct research costs.
Provided By: Space Telescope Science Institute
Course: Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral-level research degree
Eligibility: Applicants of any nationality
Deadline: November 2, 2017.
Apply Now: https://www.developingcareer.com/nasa-hubble-fellowship-program/
Jansky Fellowship Program
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation is now offering the Jansky Fellowship Program. The program supports outstanding postdoctoral scientists whose research is broadly related to the mission and scientific goals of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which operates two world-class research facilities: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Very Large Array. The starting salary for the 2018 Jansky Fellowship program will be $67,500 per year for an initial two-year appointment with possible renewal for a third year. A research budget of up to $17,000 per year is provided for travel and computing support.
Provided By: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Course: Multiple courses
Eligibility: Postdoctoral scientists
Deadline: November 1, 2017.
Apply Now: https://science.nrao.edu/opportunities/postdoctoral-programs/jansky
TGF Fellowship Programme
At The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Gruber Foundation (TGF) has created the GF Fellowship Programme with the aim to promote the science of cosmology and other branches of astronomy. Applicants in the last months of their Ph.D. has already made successful contacts for a post-doctoral position, or post-docs in their first year of appointment, are encouraged to apply. TGF provides a yearly amount of 50,000 US $ for Fellowships every year, with the next one in 2017. The Fellowship will be awarded to an extremely promising, young astrophysicist, working in any field of astrophysics, theoretical, observational or experimental.
Provided By: Gruber Foundation (TGF)
Course: Ph.D. or
Eligibility: Young astrophysicist
Deadline: March 31.
Apply Now: https://www.iau.org/science/grants_prizes/gruber_foundation/fellowships/
Free Online Course on Science of Gastronomy
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is proud to announce you a free online course named as the Science of Gastronomy. This course introduces a number of basic scientific principles underpinning the methodology of cooking, food preparation and the enjoyment of food. All topics covered have a strong basis in biology, chemistry, and physics application.
Provided By: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Duration: 6 weeks
Course: Science of Gastronomy
Start Date: October 10.
Apply Now: https://www.freeeducator.com/free-online-course-science-gastronomy/
Free Online Course on Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy
Arizona State University is glad to announce you a free online course named as “Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy”. You will learn to explore the exciting world of modern solar systems astronomy in this credit-eligible course. In this introductory 4-credit hour lecture and laboratory course, they will explore the origins, structure, contents, and evolution of our solar system and exosolar planetary systems. They will cover the history of astronomy, properties of light, instruments, the study of the solar system and nearby stars.
Provided By: Arizona State University
Duration: 8 weeks
Course: Solar Systems Astronomy
Start Date: October 9, 2017.
Apply Now: https://www.freeeducator.com/free-online-course-introduction-solar-systems-astronomy/
Free Online Course on In the Night Sky: Orion
The free online course “In the Night Sky: Orion” has been created by the Open University. Explore the night sky, discover how stars formed and find out about exoplanets, all through the constellation of Orion.From the basics of astronomy and stargazing to the science behind the birth of a star, this four-week course will change the way you see the night sky. You’ll examine one of the most famous constellations, Orion. You’ll find out about exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars just as we orbit the Sun and may hold the secrets to life outside of the solar system.
Provided By: The Open University
Duration: 4 weeks
Course: In the Night Sky: Orion
Requirement: No prior experience
Start Date: 8 January 2018.
Apply Now: https://www.freeeducator.com/free-online-course-on-in-the-night-sky-orion/
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