Astronomy

Can I have a career in observational astronomy if I study astrophysics or does it have to be particularly astronomy?

Can I have a career in observational astronomy if I study astrophysics or does it have to be particularly astronomy?

So I'm in year 11 and have an aspiration to be an observational astronomer but I'm worried that if I study astrophysics I won't be able to be an astronomer in particular. It probably sounds like a really dumb question. I am open to doing any job in astronomy/astrophysics but I just need to know. Thanks :)


I don't think there really is a difference between "astronomer" and "astrophysicist". Both are physicists using their knowledge to learn about the Universe. Their is perhaps a tendency to call yourself an astronomer if you're doing observational stuff, and an astrophysicist if you're more theoretical/numerical. If people ask me what I do, I use "astronomer" if I want to sound romantic, and "astrophysicist" if I want to sound clever. :)

So, you are interested in doing observations, rather than doing simulations or pure theory. But in all cases, you start by gaining basic knowledge of both observational astronomy, "normal" physics, theory, and coding. Depending on which country you study in, at some point you will probably have the opportunity to have more influence on the courses you take, so that you could skip courses of, say, particle physics and general relativity, in favor of data analysis and, even better, observing summer schools (which I would recommend even for students planning to do theory, because it's a fantastic experience). Finally, your Master's thesis (to a small degree) and eventually your Ph.D. (to a large degree) will have an impact on the path you choose for your career. But many astro*s have been known to switch.


This is mostly semantics, but I would say that Astronomy is the umbrella term for both space physics and astrophysics. Space physics essentially involves studying things like plasmas, heliophysics, magnetospheres, heliospheres, planetary atmospheres, ionospheres, aurora, space weather, etc. Astrophysics involves studying things like black holes, stars, the Universe (e.g., cosmology), exoplanets, galaxies, interstellar dust, etc. Observational astronomy could fall under either space physics or astrophysics, depending on what you want to observe. But honestly, it doesn't matter much.

During your undergraduate education, you'll likely have a career path nearly indistinguishable from a physics student, with the exception that you may take a handful of more astronomy oriented classes. You'll still need all the basic physics courses. During graduate school is really when you focus on what your future career will be, and even then, not until you start your PhD dissertation. You'll have a good one to two years of classes at the graduate level that will be just more advanced astronomy/astrophysics.

For now, my advice is study physics as best you can and point your education towards astronomy, but don't get bogged down in future career paths just yet. You still have a good 5 to 7 years before you really have to start tightening your scope.


What can you do with an astronomy degree?

Astronomy is the branch of science that studies the universe, the stars and the planets. Astronomy combines aspects of maths and physics to study how the universe was formed and the celestial bodies that are contained within it. It is the oldest of the natural sciences.

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What do you learn on an astronomy degree?

Astronomy degrees are a combination of learning theory about the universe, and spending time actually observing the skies.

In the first year students will gain a basic understanding of the core principles of astronomy. Typical modules will include observational astronomy, the solar system, cosmology, geochemistry and geology.

The second and third years will cover the key aspects of astronomy in greater depth and will involve further training in using optical and radio telescopes. Typical modules can include geophysics, astrobiology and petrology. In the third year possible modules may include numerical and computational methods, thermal and statistical physics. Some universities will also offer the option to carry out a group or individual project.

Degree programmes can span from three to five years depending on whether a BSc or an MSc was selected.

Some universities will only offer astronomy as a combination with astrophysics or physics degrees and it is also possible to study astronomy as part of a joint honours course.

What should if I want to study an astronomy degree?

Most universities will require high grades in either physics or maths (or both) but some universities may not require it. Other science subjects may also be beneficial but all universities will ask for different entry requirements.

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What do people who study astronomy do after graduation?

Many people who study astronomy at university will end up in research-based roles and lab-based work in universities and academia.

Others will go on to work in observatories, planetariums and museums developing the displays, delivering workshops for visitors, maintaining the technology and carrying out research. Astronomy graduates can also pursue jobs in the government and in the aerospace sector.

Which famous people studied astronomy?

Stephen Hawking studied cosmology (a branch of astronomy) at the University of Cambridge after achieving an undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Oxford. He is best known for his revolutionary work in understanding black holes and the Big Bang Theory.

Edwin Hubble, regarded as one of the most important astronomers of all time, studied at the graduate school of the University of Chicago’s Yeukes Observatory and obtained his PhD in astronomy from there. He is most well-known as being the namesake of the Hubble Telescope which has helped to make more precise calculations about the age of the universe. He is also credited as having discovered that galaxies do not sit stationary in space and that there are many more galaxies than just the Milky Way.


So you studied astronomy. What's next?

Astronomy is the oldest of all the natural sciences. It applies elements of physics and mathematics to study the planets, stars, and galaxies above. Astronomy majors explore fascinating questions about the formation of the universe and the celestial bodies within it.

In this degree program, students split their time between observing the skies and developing their theoretical understanding of astronomy. They take courses in geochemistry, cosmology, geology, and observational astronomy. They gain expertise with telescope operation, computational methods, and more.

Along the way, they also develop a valuable set of transferrable skills. Astronomy majors graduate with strong abilities in problem solving, computation, and graphical and statistical analysis. They know how to work with abstract ideas, perform complex calculations, and communicate their results clearly. Finally, they are detail-oriented, curious, and critical thinkers who are unafraid of tackling life's biggest questions. Together, these qualities prepare them well for many careers. Lets take a look at a few of the most common ones.


Answers and Replies

above listed universities provides astronomy courses but i have to confirm that these universities accept those students who has done their Bachelor's in electrical? because in the eligibility criteria they written that for graduate study in astronomy you have your Bachelor's in physics, astronomy, astrophysics and some time engineering is acceptable but which engineering stream.

So i want to know that Which University provide me astronomy course after electrical engineering which coursework cover Astrophysics, Stars, galaxies, high energy physics, galactic astronomy, interstellar astronomy, stellar astronomy, Cosmology, observational astronomy, exoplanets etc.

If there are other universities listed above then suggest me.

Don't despair. My prof when I did my PhD in physics had an undergrad in mechanical engineering. It is possible.

Preliminary advice: The support staff at a university are very important to you. Be very nice and extremely polite to clerks, secretaries, and similar. They can answer the simple questions that the profs won't be bothered with. If you need a form or should apply for something, they will know and be able to help you.

Generally questions about getting admitted to a graduate program will depend on the university. Different programs at different universities have different competition. Some places are incredibly popular and so turn down all but the very top students. Others are less popular.

So you need to search around for schools that catch your interest, and contact them directly. Google will help you here. Most schools have some kind of web site. Find the contact info for the school, probably something like graduate admissions or registrar or something like that. Ask them about specific programs and requirements. Ask about what you need to put in your application.

Don't forget to ask what language you will study in at the school. If you don't speak a language they teach in, that's probably a bad fit.

Different degree programs will have different requirements. Astronomy and other related subjects you mention will almost certainly require you have substantial mathematics, at least calculus for two years. They will also be likely to want you to have taken certain physics classes, things like classical mechanics. It would help if you knew at least a little relativity, at least special relativity. But the specific degree at the specific university will have different requirements. They will know better than we can. You need to contact them directly and ask.

Students studying in a country other than their home country have challenges. Often the fees for foreign students are considerably higher. So the question is one of how you will pay and how you will pay to keep yourself living. Food, clothes, a house or apartment. Graduate programs sometimes have financial support. You often have to apply for such things. That means you need to find out what support exists, which again means you should contact the university directly.

If you have a specific university in mind, there are probably lots of students from your home country already there. You should search out a student's association for them. At the university I went to there were several different such groups, China, India, Russia, some others. These students exchange such things as how to adapt to the local culture, what scholarships to apply for, how to fill in the government forms and the school forms, and where to get "cooking like at home."

Don't despair. My prof when I did my PhD in physics had an undergrad in mechanical engineering. It is possible.

Preliminary advice: The support staff at a university are very important to you. Be very nice and extremely polite to clerks, secretaries, and similar. They can answer the simple questions that the profs won't be bothered with. If you need a form or should apply for something, they will know and be able to help you.

Generally questions about getting admitted to a graduate program will depend on the university. Different programs at different universities have different competition. Some places are incredibly popular and so turn down all but the very top students. Others are less popular.

So you need to search around for schools that catch your interest, and contact them directly. Google will help you here. Most schools have some kind of web site. Find the contact info for the school, probably something like graduate admissions or registrar or something like that. Ask them about specific programs and requirements. Ask about what you need to put in your application.

Don't forget to ask what language you will study in at the school. If you don't speak a language they teach in, that's probably a bad fit.

Different degree programs will have different requirements. Astronomy and other related subjects you mention will almost certainly require you have substantial mathematics, at least calculus for two years. They will also be likely to want you to have taken certain physics classes, things like classical mechanics. It would help if you knew at least a little relativity, at least special relativity. But the specific degree at the specific university will have different requirements. They will know better than we can. You need to contact them directly and ask.

Students studying in a country other than their home country have challenges. Often the fees for foreign students are considerably higher. So the question is one of how you will pay and how you will pay to keep yourself living. Food, clothes, a house or apartment. Graduate programs sometimes have financial support. You often have to apply for such things. That means you need to find out what support exists, which again means you should contact the university directly.

If you have a specific university in mind, there are probably lots of students from your home country already there. You should search out a student's association for them. At the university I went to there were several different such groups, China, India, Russia, some others. These students exchange such things as how to adapt to the local culture, what scholarships to apply for, how to fill in the government forms and the school forms, and where to get "cooking like at home."

And the coursework provide by the university is shown in below image.

But i have few questions.
1) If i will get admission in this university then university teach me all topics (astronomy dynamics, galactic astronomy, high energy physics, stellar astronomy, observational astronomy, astronomical statistics etc.) they have written in their coursework or i have to select particular one topic for my graduate study.

2) They have written that "This course is not eligible for D/Fail grading" what is meaning of this statement.


Career In Astronomy: Courses Eligibility, Admission Process, Job Opportunities and Scope

Astronomy is the study of everything that lies beyond the surface of the Earth. Astronomy is as old as Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton—to put it simply Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. It began with making observations about the night sky and today it includes celestial bodies that aren’t even visible with the naked eye like faraway galaxies, black holes, neutron stars, etc. Astronomy is split into two clear types: Observational and Theoretical and has multiple branches.

Observational Astronomy uses physical instruments to observe the sky and celestial bodies and present this information through journals and academic papers.

Theoretical Astronomy, on the other hand, uses mathematical equations and physical laws to deduce and understand the meaning of these observations. They then not only predict future patterns, but also study the beginning of the universe.

Astronomy/Astrophysics is a course that is highly in demand, however, it does require an extreme amount of hard work and dedication, and more importantly a strong grasp of Mathematics and Physics. Astronomy is considered a specialization subject, there are different paths that a student can choose after completing his 12th:

Bachelor’s Degree: A BSc in Physics is the first step to building a career in Astronomy. BSc can be pursued by any student who has taken Science and Mathematics in the 12th grade. One can also pursue a BSc in Applied Sciences or a BTech in a relevant field such as Aerospace Engineering.

Master’s Degree: Since Astronomy is a part of Physics, it is a specialized course. And for someone who wants to study core Astronomy/Astrophysics, it is important to pursue an MSc in either Theoretical Astronomy, Astrophysics, or Applied Physics.

Ph.D. In Astronomy: Astronomers and Astrophysicists are highly educated scientists and researchers and tend to have a doctorate in their field. Of course, there are multiple branches of Astronomy that can be focused upon: Cosmology, Astrobiology, Spectroscopy, Photometry, Planetology, etc.

Amateur Astronomy is another huge part of Observational Astronomy—many observations about new comets and transient events have been done by normal people who like watching the sky through telescopes and binoculars. Since Astronomy isn’t considered a ‘professional’ degree so far, there are very few institutions dedicated wholly to Astronomy. However, the ones on the list have made some incredible contributions to the field.

BSc Physics/ Applied Sciences
IIT Bombay After completing 12 th in the Science stream, the student must give the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)
IIT Delhi
IIT Kharagpur
IISc Bangalore
IIST Trivandrum
Delhi University Merit-based admission based on 12th-grade results.
MSc in Physics/ Applied Sciences
IIT Bombay After completing a BSc in Physics or a Btech in Aerospace Engineering and related fields one must give entrance examinations like GATE/ IIT JAM.
IIT Delhi
IIT Kharagpur
IISc Bangalore
IIST Trivandrum
Delhi University Entrance test for merit basis.
Ph.D. in Astronomy/Astrophysics
ARIES Nainital JEST/CISR/UGC-NET/INSPIRE Fellowship
IIA Bangalore
IISER
IUCAA Pune
RRI Bangalore

Careers in Astronomy

Astronomy is a field that is highly in demand, since there are very few academically qualified Astrophysicists and Astronomers in the country, it may be due to the amount of education required to qualify as an astrophysicist. Most of them are employed at India’s autonomous institutions like IIA, IUCAA as part of the research team. NASA, ISRO, and similar private and public organizations are also good places to work as an Astrophysicist.

There are multiple career paths to choose from after receiving a degree in Astronomy and related fields:

  1. Astrophysicist: Astrophysicists study the physics of Astronomy. They are concerned with researching planets, stars, and galaxies. They study how the universe works today and how it evolved from centuries ago. Astrophysicists earn somewhere around 7,00,000-13,00,000 PA.
  2. Research Scientist: Research Scientists work in labs and agencies, they generally work with peers to achieve a common goal, or produce a thesis that is presented at scientific meetings and summits. Scientists can earn between 5,00,000–10,00,00 PA.
  3. Academics: After a Ph.D., one can choose to teach Astronomy to students at universities and continue to conduct research on an individual level. Professors tend to earn 8,00,000-10,00,00 PA.
  4. Planetarium Director: Apart from working as Planetarium Directors, which is a senior post, freshers can begin by working at Planetariums as technicians and other junior posts. They earn an average of 6,00,000-8,00,000 PA.
  5. Meteorologists/Climatologists: Weather is closely related to Atmospheric Science with is part of Astronomy. Therefore, people who are pursuing degrees in Astrophysics or Applied Sciences can choose to work in Meteorology and Climatology. They typically earn about 6,00,000-8,00,000 PA.

The majority of Astronomy and Astrophysics graduates tend to work in the Research & Development fields of large and small organizations so that discoveries about the past and future can be made. Many students also work in private sectors, where instruments like telescopes and binoculars, and other related equipment are produced.

Well qualified researchers tend to go forward and work for organizations like NASA and ISRO. Astronomy isn’t just a rarely explored field, it is also one that is exciting, and rewarding.


Relevant Minors and/or Certificates

UFTeach Program

There is a severe shortage of qualified secondary science teachers in Florida and nationwide. Students interested in becoming part of this high-demand profession should see the undergraduate coordinator about the UFTeach program. UFTeach students can complete the UFTeach minor in science teaching along with their B.A. in astronomy and have the coursework and preparation for professional teacher certification in Florida when they graduate.


The starting salary of an astronomer starts from Rs 50,000/- per month. Those who have earned experience and are highly qualified will earn an annual salary of Rs. 8 lacs to Rs 10 lacs.

Astrophysics is an incredibly competitive field. And that’s all great stuff, but the majority of actual astrophysics is spectroscopy and math, neither of which is very entertaining, so they opt to show the more appealing stuff. So a lot of people go into the field thinking it’s a lot easier than it actually is.


Astrophysics is largely only available as a field of study at the doctorate level, but there are a limited number of baccalaureate degrees. The field is considered very competitive. While not the most commonly offered degree, there are several institutions that offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Astrophysics.

It’s difficult to gauge what genius means in any subject, but, by comparing the difficulty of astrophysics vs engineering, mathematics, other areas of physics and some non-science subjects, I’d say that astrophysicists range in intellectual ability from “quite bright” to “bloody clever”, with a small (but significant) …


WHY STUDY ASTRONOMY AT ILLINOIS?

The universe provides plenty of room for exploration, and Illinois provides the access to the Universe. In the classroom, students make use of vast, modern datasets to give you hands-on experience with real data. In research projects outside the classroom, there are multiple options.

The University of Illinois is a leading research institution in observational astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, astronomical imaging, and cosmology. Our faculty members have access to world class facilities, such as the South Pole Telescope, optical telescopes around the world from Arizona to Antarctica, large survey science projects including DES and LSST, space-based telescopes including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, far-infrared telescopes like the flying observatory SOFIA, radio telescopes like ALMA or the VLA, and state-of-the-art supercomputers at NCSA. The University of Illinois places a high value on undergraduate research, and many advanced students participate in research projects with astronomy faculty during the summers and/or fall/spring semesters.