If you do want to become an astronomer, then you will probably need a degree in either Astronomy itself or Physics. Since astronomy contains a lot of physics, many universities now offer degrees in Astrophysics, which combine Physics and Astronomy. To become an astronomer, you typically need to earn a Ph.D. degree.
Become an Astronomer: Astronomy is a good field if you have scientific and analytical skills. It is a very exciting and interesting job, but if you want to become an astronomer, you have to make sure that you get the right qualifications. If you want the highest chances of getting a job, get a Ph.D. in astronomy.
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What Does an Astronomer Do?
Astronomers perform research on the stars, planets, galaxies, and other material in space, using data collected from ground-based telescopes and space probes. They do this to get a better scientific understanding of the cosmic world, and to study any phenomenon to see the changes they cause and predict any that may occur. Astronomers may use this information for applied research purposes.
Getting the Necessary Education
- Get good grades in high school physics, mathematics, and chemistry.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in science, with a focus on astronomy or physics.
- Get a master’s degree in science.
- Pursue a Ph.D. in a particular area of astronomy.
- Complete your Ph.D. dissertation and take the qualifying exams.
Developing the Skills and Experience
- Study the universe with a telescope.
- Join an astronomy club or society.
Learn how to use science-related software programs.
- Get better at working in a team.
- Improve your writing and public speaking skills.
Getting a Position as an Astronomer
- Look for a postdoctoral fellowship to be a competitive job candidate.
- Get a teaching position at a university.
- Apply for open positions at an observatory.
- Look for positions in the aerospace or computer science industry.
- Apply for positions at a space agency.
Careers fields in Astronomy
- Analyst / Data Scientist
- Medical physics
- Meteorology / Climate science
- Patent agency / law
- Science communication
- Science policy
- Scientific translation
- Software development
- Space / Aeronautics
- Technical / Engineering
Top 5 Universities for Physics & Astronomy Worldwide
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university, was founded in 1861. It is a world-class educational institution where teaching and research with relevance to the practical world as a guiding principle continue to be its primary purpose.
Address: 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Phone: +1 617-253-1000
Acceptance rate: 7.9% (2016)
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university, was established in 1636. It is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,710. Harvard University is America’s oldest institution of higher education.
Address: Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Phone: +1 617-495-1000
Acceptance rate: 5.4% (2016)
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university, was founded in 1209. It has achieved the maximum five QS stars in four categories research, innovation, and teaching and specialist criteria. It is considered part of the “Golden Triangle”, a geographical concentration of leading research universities.
Address: The Old Schools, Trinity Ln, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK
Phone: +44 1223 337733
Acceptance rate: 21% (2015)
Stanford University is a private research university, was founded in 1891. It is one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,034, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 8,180 acres. It offers undergraduate and graduates coursework, and the remaining three serve as purely graduate schools.
Address: 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Phone: +1 650-723-2300
Acceptance rate: 4.8% (2016)
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university was founded in 1096. It is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The university has played a major role in the intellectual life of the country since its early days. The actors Hugh Grant and Rosamund Pike also went to Oxford, as did the writers Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, Vikram Seth and Philip Pullman.
Address: Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
Phone: +44 1865 270000
Acceptance rate: 17.5% (2015)