Astronomy is one of the most fascinating subjects in all of the sciences. This could partly be due to the sense of discovery that fills it. After all, astronomers study about objects that are not only far, far away, but they also teach us about the origins of our planet and the universe itself.
Maybe you’ve looked up at the night sky one day and considered a career in astronomy. If you have, then it would be a good idea to know what it takes to become an astronomer. While one can get into the field through various avenues, here is a general means and path of study that could lead you into the career:
1) Get the necessary education.
You’ll need a good educational grounding in physics and mathematics. This is because most of the things we can learn about celestial objects are gotten by making precise observations or certain phenomena described in the subjects of math and physics.
Chemistry is also a good field as analyzing foreign atmosphere will require a good understanding of the elements. You’ll want at least a bachelor’s degree in science, focusing on astronomy itself or physics. You’ll also want a Ph.D. in astronomy itself.
2) Gain practical experience.
Don’t spend all your time behind books! Get out there and start observing the night sky. You don’t need a very expensive telescope to start making observations of the planets, local star clusters and nearby asteroids.
Another good way to get experience is by joining an astronomy club or society. There, more experienced members can help teach you the tools of the trade and you’ll get to use more telescopes, equipment, and software. All of this will become a valuable experience once you enter the field.
3) Get a job in the field.
This may seem to be the most daunting, but there are actually plenty of areas where you can work in astronomy. An obvious one would be to become a teacher of astronomy, passing on the knowledge you’ve gained to a new generation. You could also apply for positions at observatories or museums with astronomy exhibits.
Your education will make you an ideal fit for these types of positions. There is also the prospect of working for a space agency like NASA. Considered by many an astronomer to be a dream-job, many of NASA’s employees got their start in astronomy. Finally, you could always take your experience and share it with others as an author.
New astronomy equipment and software become available all the time, and your familiarization with them makes you a great person to write about these things, thus helping others on the road to discovery.
Not every astronomer will necessarily discover a new celestial object or have a comet named after them, but that’s not really the point. Even if one isn’t professionally involved in astronomy, there is always the sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement to be had by anyone willing to look up and learn more about our universe.