Interested in a Career as an Astronomer

Question: Hi! I am 16 years old and I am interested in being an astronomer. I was wondering if there is like a co-op or a tour or something of the job so I can see what it is like and if you could give me any advice or tips id appreciate that too!  — Emily

Answer: Great that you are interested in a career in astronomy!  You should check-out the information on the “Careers in Astronomy” section of this blog for lots of tips and information about a career as an astronomer.  If you have further questions then please do let us know.

Jeff Mangum

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A Question About a Potential Career in Astronomy and Physics

Question: Hello I am a 39 year old high school drop out who is in the process of getting his GED as we speak I have a passion and I always have had a passion for astronomy and physics and that is my goal. So I guess my question would be is it realistic for me to believe and achieve such a goal my sister in law is a professor at the University of Arizona she truly believes in me and pushes me and encourages me. Do other astronomers and physicists believe I can reach such a goal?  — Aldolfo

Answer: I have encountered scientists that have overcome obstacles such as the ones you describe before, so your goals are achievable.  To really get a better understanding of what is involved in pursuing a career in astronomy or physics you should look over the posts in my careers in astronomy section of this blog.  Good luck!

Jeff Mangum

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What are an Astronomer’s Work Hours?

Question: What are typical work hours?  — Michael

Answer: Well, an astronomer’s work hours are highly dependent upon what task the astronomer is working on at the moment.  For example, when we go to an observatory to conduct observations the hours can be quite long.  In general, astronomer work hours can be highly variable.

Jeff Mangum

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Is a Minor in Astronomy a Good Complement to One’s Chosen Major Subject?

Question: I major in business but want to minor in astronomy is that a good choice?  — Josh

Answer: I think that a minor in a science, like astronomy, can only be a plus for the work that you will do in your major.  For example, for a business major I would think that an understanding of physics would be a useful skill set to have.

Jeff Mangum

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A Career in Astronomy and Access to Astronomy Classes

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.

Jeff Mangum

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What Should a Budding Astronomer Look for in a College?

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.

Jeff Mangum

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What Educational Degrees Do Most Astronomers Have?

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.

Jeff Mangum

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Questions About a Career in Astronomy

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.

Jeff Mangum

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Undergraduate Studies in Physics

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.

Jeff Mangum

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What Makes Astronomy an Interesting Field to Study?

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.

Jeff Mangum

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