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Career Library

Astronomy

Summary

Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects in the universe. Astronomists study and gather data on the movement, nature, constitution, history and possible future developments of heavenly bodies like the sun, planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, asteroids etc. They apply laws of mathematics and physics to unravel the mysteries of the universe. They collect and analyze data on celestial bodies, develop and test theories, and write research papers.

Career Opportunities in Astronomy

  • Astrometeorology
    Astrometeorology is the science of forecasting weather by assessing the movement and position of celestial bodies. Astrometeorologists apply their knowledge of the relationship between weather and the sun, moon, stars etc. to make predictions about weather.
  • Astrochemistry
    Astrochemistry combines the principles of astronomy and chemistry, to study the formation, interaction and destruction of chemical elements that are found in space. Their study encompasses elements at a scale much larger than the solar system.
  • Astrometry
    Astrometry is concerned with the tracking of the position and movement of celestial bodies. Astrometrists take precise measurements that allow them to trace the coordinates of various stars, planets and other bodies.
  • Astrobiology
    Astrobiology is the study of other life forms beyond Earth. Astrobiologists apply their knowledge of biology and planetary systems, to understand the origin and nature of extra-terrestrial life in the universe.

How to Pursue a Career in Astronomy

Stream Graduation After Graduation After Post Graduation
Path 1
Clear Class XII in Science streamPursue B.Sc. Physics/ Computer Science for 3 yearsPursue M.Sc. Physics/ Astronomy/Astrophysics for 2 yearsPursue Joint Astronomy Programme and Ph.D.
Path 2
Clear Class XII in Science StreamPursue B.Tech in Computer Science for 4 yearsPursue M.Sc. Physics/ M.Tech. Astronomy/Astrophysics for 2 yearsPursue Joint Astronomy Programme and Ph.D.

Important Facts

  • Most colleges have eligibility criteria of minimum 50% aggregate marks in Class XII with Physics as a main Subject.
  • M.Sc. Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics are available as courses only in select colleges.
  • Physics and Mathematics are required as main Subjects in Class XII and Under graduation.
  • Most of the institutes for post-graduation require bachelors in Physics and related subjects.

Leading Institutes

Top Astronomy Institutes in India
College Location Website
Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Main Campus Bengaluru www.iiap.res.in
The Vainu Bappu Observatory (IIA) Kavalur, Tamil Nadu www.iiap.res.in
Kodaikanal Observatory (IIA) Madras www.iiap.res.in
The Gauribidanur Observatory (IIA) Hanle www.iiap.res.in
Indian Astronomical Observatory (IIA) Leh www.iiap.res.in
Centre for Applicable Mathematics (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research ) Bengaluru www.math.tifrbng.res.in
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Mumbai www.hbcse.tifr.res.in
International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Bengaluru www.icts.res.in/home
National Centre for Biological Sciences (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Bengaluru www.ncbs.res.in
National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Pune www.ncra.tifr.res.in/ncra
Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Hyderabad www.tifrh.res.in/tcis
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune www.iucaa.ernet.in/index.html
Raman Research Institute Bengaluru www.rri.res.in
Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad www.prl.res.in
Department of Physics (Panjab University) Chandigarh www.physics.puchd.ac.in
Department of Physics, Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh www.amu.ac.in/departmentpage.jsp?did=1
Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru www.iisc.ac.in
School of Applied and Pure Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University Kerala www.mgu.ac.in
School of studies in Physics and Astrophysics, Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University Raipur www.prsu.ac.in
Department of Physics, Cochin University of Science and Technology Kerala www.physics.cusat.ac.in
Swami Ramanand Teerth University Maharashtra www.srtmun.ac.in
Top Astronomy Institutes in the World
Institution Location Website
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States www.web.mit.edu
Harvard University United States www.harvard.edu
University of Cambridge United Kingdom www.cam.ac.uk
Stanford University United States www.stanford.edu
University of California, Berkeley United States www.berkeley.edu
University of Oxford United Kingdom www.ox.ac.uk
Princeton University United States www.princeton.edu/main
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States www.caltech.edu
University of Tokyo Japan www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/index.html
ETH Zurich Switzerland www.ethz.ch/en.html

Astronomy Entrance Exams

Postgraduate
Institution Tentative Date Important Elements Website
TIFR GS Examination December Physics www.univ.tifr.res.in/gs2017
JEST February Physics www.jest.org.in
IIAST December Subjective Questions www.iiap.res.in/phd2013_beta
GATE February Quantitative Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, Research Aptitude, General Science etc. www.gate.iisc.ernet.in
CSIR UGC NET June Physics and Mathematics www.csirhrdg.res.in

Work Description

  • Calculate orbits, and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies
  • Team up with other astronomers to carry out research on projects
  • Develop theories based on personal observations of the space, or on observations and theories of other astronomers
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for publishing in scientific journals
  • Plan and conduct scientific experiments and studies to test theories and discover properties of matter and energy
  • Do complex mathematical calculations to analyze physical and astronomical data, such as data that may indicate the existence of planets in distant solar systems
  • Design new scientific equipments, such as telescopes and lasers

Pros & Cons of a Career in Astronomy

Pros
  • It is an exciting career for those who are interested in unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
  • It is a very promising career, with numerous opportunities for growth, provided you have the right scientific acumen.
  • Fort those who have a logical and problem-solving bend of mind, this can be a very stimulating field.
Cons
  • It is a very hard field to get into, as you require immense knowledge and a high level of cognitive skills.
  • Many years of study are required to excel in this field.
  • Astronomers spend most of their workday inside in the laboratory, office or observatory.
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