Imagine a career in which you get to witness the birth of the universe, or the death of a star! An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as moons, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies; the physics, chemistry, and evolution of such objects; and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of earth (such as supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic background radiation). This profession is basically divided into two parts — one deals with the theoretical aspects (observational astronomy) and the other with its practical aspects. Observational astronomers focus on direct study of stars, planets, galaxies, and sophisticated instruments attached to modern telescopes. Theoretical astronomers or astrophysicists analyse how these systems may have formed and evolved. There is a great scope for qualified astronomers in various public and private organisations such as the Indian Space Research Organisation, space physics laboratories etc. They also get employed at research institutions or universities.
What do they do?
To become an Astronomer is definitely not a cakewalk but takes a lot of perseverance and dedication. If you wish to become an Astronomer and explore the mysterious world up there then you should hold your back straight for some hard work. An Astronomer’s duty is not just to observe or analyse but entails more. As an astronomer you would be involved in calculating orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness and motions of different celestial bodies. You will also be involved in developing theories or anti-theories on personal or on observation of other astronomers. The study and research as an astronomer may take years to complete but if you have the passion for it then no years can be longer for you.
- Advanced knowledge of physics and applied mathematics
- Ability to handle large sets of data with the help of computer/computer programming is required
- Knowledge of statistics for analysing data
How do I get there?
In order to become an Astronomer you should take Physics, Chemistry and Maths as main subjects in class 12. Depending on choice of field, you can either opt for experimental astronomy or theoretical astronomy. For pursuing a career in experimental astronomy, you can do BE/BTech in electrical/ electronics/electrical communications or any other related branch before doing PhD in a relevant field which is the basic requirement for doing research work. For theoretical astronomy you can opt for an honours degree in Physics with Mathematics as a subsidiary subject. Thereafter, you can take postgraduate degree in Physics or Astronomy, followed by a specialisation in Astronomy.
Typical day in the life of a Astronomer
Pros & Cons about this career
A chance to discover unknown facts about space and resolve mysteries that surround the outer space which may bring about a dramatic change to our lives
One has to be like an owl as most of the observations are usually taken at night