CAREER OPTION > Astronomer
Being an Astronomer
The sky has never failed to excite us with its new discoveries and innovations. The view of the moon and the stars in the sky alone is breath-taking. And if you have always loved looking at the sky, then being an astronomer is the right choice for you. Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with space, celestial objects and the physical universe as a whole. It applies mathematics, physics and chemistry together to give explanations about how the objects in space have formed and evolved. As an astronomer, you will be a time traveller and can look way back in the time when the earth was born.
You will be studying about the behaviour of matter, space conditions and stellar objects around the earth. It is an extremely interesting field for a career, where you can keep discovering and describing new things every now and then. The magic and excitement astronomy has to offer has no limits. In order to become an astronomer, the first step to take is to get an undergraduate degree in Maths or Physics. After that, you can specialise in astronomy or astrophysics for your post-graduation. A Ph.D is compulsory to become a professional astronomer.
- Qualifying marks in your 10+2 examinations from a recognised board of education with Physics, Maths and Chemistry being core subjects.
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, Astrophysics or Mathematics. People who have taken B.Tech for their under-graduate degree and have an interest in astronomy and physics can also opt to choose astrophysics or astronomy for their post-graduation in order to become an astronomer.
- Certain institutions conduct their own entrance exams to get admission in undergraduate astronomy courses.
- Solid knowledge in physics and mathematics.
- Must have the knowledge of computer programs and softwares.
- Good observations skills are required.
- Should have the capability of solving complex problems and conducting research work.
- Ability to work with a group of people and have team spirit.
How to become an astronomer
STEP 1: Clear your H.S.C (10+2) exams and get a Bachelor’s Degree in either Physics, Mathematics or Astrophysics. There are also diploma courses available for the same.
STEP 2: In order to get admissions for your undergraduate program, you might have to attend an entrance exam in certain institutions. The exam shall comprise of questions related to Maths, Physics and Chemistry. One such examination is the IISC conducted by the Indian Institute of Sciences.
STEP 3: After your undergraduate program, it is necessary to specialise and take a post-graduate degree. Your Master’s degree can be in Astrophysics, Astronomy or Astronomy and Space engineering (M.Sc and M.Tech courses).
STEP 4: Finally, you can take a Ph.D in Astronomy or Astrophysics to become a professional astronomer. You need to attend entrance exams like GATE / JEST / NET etc to get your admission in a Ph.D course. To complete all of this is a long process. However, if you’re aspiration is high, years of education will lead you to a career that is much more rewarding than what you expected.
A career in astronomy is broadly divided as theoretical or observatory. You can work with public or private organisations under various roles after your courses in astronomy. You can also work with educational institutions, research organisations like ISRO or NASA, planetariums, science parks etc. The different job types that you can adopt are research scientist, lecturer or astronomer.
- Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology – Thiruvananthapuram
- Indian Institute of Science – Bangalore
- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research – Mumbai
- Indian Institute of Astrophysics – Bangalore
Salary depends on the type of job you choose. As a lecturer, your salary may vary between Rs.40,000 – Rs.60,000. But, being a professional astronomer who does research is a highly paid job. The starting salary of an astronomer is Rs.50, 000 per month and can go up to Rs.12 lakhs – Rs.15 lakhs annually.