Question: Hello. I am a college student, and I am extremely interested in astronomy. I am taking math and chemistry but my school doesn’t offer astronomy classes. Can I still get a career in astronomy with a degree in chemistry or would it be best to try and transfer to a school that offers astronomy?
Also, I’m worried I won’t be smart enough to succeed in astronomy. I was a valedictorian in high school, but I’m still worried to take the risk of transferring schools for an astronomy program and then not be able to complete it. Any advice? Thank you. — Kristin
Answer: Most astronomers are actually trained as physicists or chemists who later specialize in the astrophysical application of physics or chemistry. I would not worry too much about the lack of access to astronomy classes at your undergraduate school. It is more important to take as much physics and math, and chemistry if your ultimate goal is to study interstellar chemistry, that you possibly can so that you can have a good grounding in these subjects, which are fundamental to astrophysical research. Also, having a good background in physics, chemistry, and math allows for you to have many options for career path in addition to astronomy. Finally, pursuing a career in astronomy is not all about “smarts”. A strong desire to study the universe is often more important than being “smart”. In the end, if you decide to pursue a career in astronomy you need to be certain that it is what you want to do in life, and that is the most important aspect of one’s choice of career.
Question: Hello, I’m a senior in High School and have been planning on being an astronomer for years. I was curious as to what college may be best for an astronomy or physics degree? I have good grades but don’t want to go to a very difficult college. I’m planning on getting a PhD and would like to find a college that is easygoing but has good education.
Help would be appreciated, thank you! — Brittany
Answer: Your best course of action is to find a college that you both like and also has strong physics, math, and computer science programs. With strong programs in these areas you will improve your chances of getting a good education in the primary skills that you will need as a professional astronomer: physics, mathematics, and computer science.
Question: Hey Jeff – I have been looking around your “Careers in Astronomy” thread and cannot seem to find this question.
What is your actual degree in astronomy?
I would like to know as I am about to do a greater project about Astronomy for my senior year in High school and would like to use you as a source, which demands that I have knowledge of your degree as an expert.
Best wishes from an astronomy enthusiast in Denmark. — Daniel
Answer: Like most professional astronomers, I have a Doctorate (Ph.D.) degree. I also have Masters and Bachelors degrees, and all of my degrees are in Astronomy. Now, professional astronomers generally have Bachelors and Ph.D. degrees in one of the physical sciences; principally physics, chemistry, or astronomy. We also tend to have strong backgrounds in mathematics and computing, which are the primary tools, in addition to physics, that astronomers use to conduct their research.
Question: I am a 12 year old girl and I love astronomy and I would love to become an astronomer when I grow up. I know it may seem that I am too young but i’m really interested in the subject. What skills does it require to become an astronomer and how many years does it take to earn a PhD in chemistry? I’m an Egyptian and there are no Egyptian astronomers. Is it possible to become an astronomer even though i’m Egyptian? — Sarah
Answer: That is great that you are interested in being an astronomer! Let me first point you to the Careers in Astronomy section of this blog. There have been many questions just like the one you have asked regarding what it takes to have a career as an astronomer that I have answered in this careers section. Note also that nationality plays no role in determining if a person can pursue a career in astronomy. Astronomers come from all over the world (including Egypt). If you have further questions about a career in astronomy after having looked through the information in the Careers in Astronomy section, let me know.
Question: I have a great interest in universe, time. What should I pursue my career after 12th. Should i go abroad if not available in india? — Govind
Answer: I think that undergraduate studies in physics and astronomy can be found in many countries, including India. If after reviewing the possibilities you should make the choice based on the program that you feel is the best fit, independent of its location. You may find some additional information in the Careers in Astronomy section of this blog.
Question: what makes astronomy an interesting field of study? — Shayne
Answer: I think you will likely find the answer to your question in my Careers in Astronomy page of this blog.
Question: Hey there! I love astronomy too!! Currently I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in physics as there is no such courses in astronomy in India. I want to learn astronomy and later on pursue astronomy as a career. Can you tell me some names of a good informative book that includes all about techniques, instruments and stuff regarding astronomy? Eagerly awaiting for a reply. — Anshul
Answer: Rather than point to some textbooks that may or may not give you the information that you are looking for, I thought that a good place to start for you might be a Coursera course on astronomy. One such course is hosted by Duke University called Introduction to Astronomy. This course contains quite a nice overview of astronomy, which includes information about techniques and instruments. There are also related courses which dive more deeply into these subjects.
Question: I am 14 years, from India, I love astronomy, after 12th, what should I do and it
is that possible in India ? — Pooja
Answer: Glad to hear that you love astronomy! So do I. Most astronomers start out studying physics in college. That is probably a good place for you to start. In fact, you should study as much math and science as you possibly can before college as preparation for your college-level studies. You should also look over the Careers in Astronomy section of this blog for further tips about the career path for an astronomer. Good luck!
Question: I am doing a school project about astronomy. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about the advantages and disadvantages of being an astronomer. — Grace
Answer: As I have mentioned in several responses to similar questions about what it is like to have a career as an astronomer in the Careers in Astronomy pages of this blog, there are some clear advantages to a career as a scientist. These include a regular flow of interesting tasks to do and the flexibility to schedule the work on those tasks using your own discretion. About the only disadvantage, and this is only a slight disadvantage, is that scientists are not necessarily paid a very high salary commensurate with the long hours that most of us work. One can make a reasonable living as a scientist, though.
Question: How can I get involved in a career uncovering the “unexplained” of the universe? I am interested in that particular part of astronomy, but I am not sure if it is too specific, or something that I cannot easily obtain. To put it into perspective, I am interested in astronomy AND astrology (myths, greek mythology, etc). (I bet you are laughing!) I am a 25 year old, and looking to go back to school once and for all. What advice do you have for me? — Sam
Answer: You should look at the information on my Careers in Astronomy page for information, including questions and answers from people like yourself who are interested in a career in astronomy science in general. Note that studying the sciences does not exclude the study of those aspects in our culture that sometimes conflict with the results that come from scientific investigation.