View Full Version : Astronomy

2003-Aug-08, 10:15 AM
I'm really interested in Astronomy! When I was in primary i was also interested in it(along with becoming an actor, which is out of my reach now lol) and even have some old drawing of comets speeding around :P
But now i'm more intrigued by it.
But anyway, i was just wondering if you guys could help me with something? :) What sort of subjects do you have to be good at in high school to become an Astronomer? I know Maths is one of them, but i'm not so sure which type of Maths?

Is it hard to find a job in Astronomy?
I also know that you'd have to do an Astronomy course!
I can find some of the planets in the sky, Jupiter and Mars(which is pretty obvious)
And my 10x21mm Binocular's can show me some interesting stars. I kinda got ripped off with those binocular's. $70! I was too eager to buy a pair lol. They're a Tasco brand which i also found out isn't that good. Oh well, they can still show me the Pleiades! :)

2003-Aug-08, 11:37 AM
Physics is essential and chemistry is also very important at least at a high school level (physics tends to be very boring until you get well into uni unfortunately). I would imagine astronomical research would be a difficult thing to get into, and it isn't particularly lucrative financially. You'd have to do a post-grad degree before you got anywhere.

I'm 1st year uni and for me it was tossing up between music (jazz piano) and astronomy. I decided on music as I think astronomy is something that I am able to enjoy without studying it formally, whereas music requires years and years of hard work to acheive anything. I get enough intellectual stimulation in a scientific sense from reading astronomy books and pondering the universe in my spare time!


2003-Aug-09, 01:15 AM
Thanks for that Kashi :)
Why is Chemistry important? Well in a weeks time i get to choose my 4 subjects for senior high school! English and Maths are compulsory. I'll be doing Maths B, which involves Calculus. Ancient History, Physics, Biology, and i'm not so sure if i want to do either Drama or Chemistry :(

2003-Aug-18, 11:30 PM
It's nice to know I'm not the only high schooler with an interest in astronomy and has bad binoculars!!! (actually I have busted binoculars and a cheap telescope that doesn't have much more power than the binocs!)
I don't know what good this'll do you know, but last year I took Algebra ll and in the book they had some ties to things like Kepler's law and stuff...but not much.
Personally, I don't know how Chem actually ties in with Astronomy...I took that last year also and I don't remember my teacher ever uttering the word "astronomy" after the first chapter! I kinda see how physics ties in though. I'll be taking that this year.

2003-Aug-19, 06:20 AM
Yeah i don't know how Chemistry is related to Astronomy. I think its involved if you want to become an astro physics?

2003-Aug-20, 12:16 PM

You say Astronomy? Let me tell you something from my experience:

1) If you have any chance to visit some modern astronomical centers
do that. They should have kind of public outreach programs. Go
there and try to understand do you really like it. Forget about
Sci-Fi movies they can be very misleading.

2) If you decide to go ahead with astronomy then bare in mind that
you need pretty good knowledge of Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Note to kathyk86: Knowledge of Chemistry helps astronomers to explore
the chemical structure of the objects in order to understand the
conditions in that objects ... spectroscopy etc

For doing really good science you have to obtain at least Diploma
degree in Physics, then maybe you could continue your study in one
of the modern astronomical centers in order to obtain a Ph.D.

3) Yes, you will not get high salary as in business, but you
will have the chance to see the world (observing trips), use the
modern technology (computers etc).

I hope my mumble-rumble gave you some ideas.

Cheers and good luck :blink:

2003-Aug-20, 11:51 PM
Ok, I kinda thought that but I wasn't sure...but what is spectroscopy? Does it have something to do with the color of the stars like red giants and blue dwarfs?

2003-Aug-21, 07:59 AM
Spectroscopy is a like tool to determine what chemical elements of the objects consist.
Spectroscopy uses electromagnetric spectra to do the job.

Imaginthe light which is coming from the Sun is the same staff, and I can say more all
objects even you are emitting some kind of spectra. It's like your footprint :)

But to see that spectra you need some tools like a prism or so ... or better you look
at the nicest thing - the rainbow. That is the part of the electromagnetic spectra
which you can see without any sophisticated tools (spectrometers).

OK this is very simplifed example. But to get real information from the spectra you have
then you will be able to see many-many black and bright lines. Every line represents a
chemical element. So basically if you see "the line" you know that this element is there
if you not then ... :) Again it is very basic, but it can give you an idea about why astronomers
should learn chemistry.

There are many nice textbooks which you can have a look and learn more about this things.
Just check in your local store.

Best regards. :D

2003-Aug-21, 10:39 AM
Thanks for that Tigran!

I got told that you would need to do Chemistry at high school, because yes you are measuring the Spectroscopy as one of the Science/Physics teachers told me.
What type of Maths do you have to be good at?

2003-Aug-21, 11:50 AM
You are welcome Draco!

To start with Maths first of all good knowledge of trigonometry would be nice.
It's used to calculate the coordinates of objects on the sky ... you have to find the stars, yes? :))

Then come inegral and differential methods etc. But don't be afraid of this names.
Remember, everybody starts from very basics and bit by bit goes for more complex things.

There is also one good advice: Start with books which explain everything on fingers.
Usually people who know maths can't explain it properly becuse they don't know it well. So
if you don't understand something it's not you that can't understand it's the book can't explain it.

OK, cheers.


p.s. knwoing maths will help you not only in Astronomy :))

2003-Aug-21, 11:58 AM
Trigonometry was easy this year.
I'm still interested in doing something that involves Astronomy.
I'm doing Physics next year in senior year, but I don't think i'll be doing Chemistry, depends......

2003-Aug-25, 07:15 AM
I rang this University and they offer Astrophysics or something similar to it.
And the man that I was talking too, I think he has a PhD because he was known as Dr. Told me that you don't really need Chemistry, that the course which is offered at that University doesn't touch on Chemistry that much, or at all.
So yeah....... ;)

2003-Aug-25, 08:44 AM
Alright then:))

Maybe by the time when you learn that course you will be more
confident in you and will tackle the Chemistry just for fun:))

Good luck!

2003-Aug-25, 12:16 PM
Go as far with maths and chemistry as possible! An understanding of complex/imaginery numbers for instance will help you comprehend the idea of imaginery time, which is an important concept in modern theoretical physics. As for chemistry, there is nothing more fundemental to astronomy than understanding the nature of matter itself! It is so important, and probably much more interesting than physics (in my opinion) at a high school level. In physics you'll be calculating what happens when cart A hits bunny B for many years! I think it starts getting interesting half way through university...personally I haven't had the willpower to stick with it, although I may go back to it one day (I'm only 18 now).

Also, if you want to be a professional astronomer I reckon you'd need to exercise your mind with as much maths as you can, even if it's not strictly relevant!


2003-Aug-26, 02:33 AM
I was just wondering if you guys could help me with something? What sort of subjects do you have to be good at in high school to become an Astronomer? I know Math is one of them, but I'm not so sure which type of Math?
Many great astronomers were high school dropouts. They werenít any good at all in school. All that you need to be a good astronomer is to know astronomy. You can download sky maps, which will help you find most of the stars. If you read about Johannes Kepler you can learn his laws for how planets orbit the earth and how to calculate those orbits. That would give you a good foundation for the math you will eventually learn. Study Newton and how his laws work, your math will improve. You really need calculus to understand him, but you do not need to take courses in calculus, all that you need is to learn it. If you have learned enough to understand Newtonís math, you are ok for the time being. Donít hesitate to ask people to help you with the things you have trouble with. Work hard and learn. You will soon get to your goal

Is it hard to find a job in Astronomy?

Yes, if you want to be paid! But, if you are willing to hang around and run errands for awhile, there are lots of places where you would be welcome. If you then study books and pay attention to what is happening around you, you will soon be able to get a job in astronomy.

I also know that you'd have to do an Astronomy course!

Take every course in astronomy that you can. Itís not that you need them to become an astronomer, but you will meet other people interested in astronomy.
If you have the ability to get into advanced classes, you will meet future astronomers. They will keep you focused, and may help you with your career later on. You will also learn a great deal from the classes.

I can find some of the planets in the sky, Jupiter and Mars (which is pretty obvious). And my 10x21mm Binoculars can show me some interesting stars. I kinda got ripped off with those binoculars. $70! I was too eager to buy a pair lol. They're a Tasco brand which I also found out isn't that good. Oh well, they can still show me the Pleiades!

Those binoculars are far superior to what Galileo used to discover the entire universe of his time. Get that star chart and spend lots of time watching the sky and read everything you can get your hand on about astronomy. One of these days you will be able to become an astronomer.

I am not recommending that you drop out of school, just pointing out that school is just one way to learn.

2003-Aug-26, 02:34 AM

2003-Aug-30, 07:54 PM
There are some very good replys here.
You need advanced math without a doubt.
Trig. geometry, calculas, and more are all important.
Trig. helps measure distances, geometry for how heavenly bodies behave and under what conditions, calculas involves ploting the movment of lots of different bodies which have lots of different factors involved.
Chemestry, because of chemical compositions of stars and other objects.

Physics, was also mentioned, is relitive to the laws of the universe.
Nuclear physics would be very good, especially anything about fussion, because that is the process whereby stars produce energy.
Even photography will be paramount.

And I'm sure I missed a few more that are important.

2003-Aug-31, 07:55 AM
Thanks guys for the excellent posts!

Seems like you really need Maths in Astronomy? Is Astronomy more difficult than Engineering? Like any type of Engineering?

Thanks for you influential words budcamp :D

I just hope I don't change my mind because if I do, I'll be upset because I can't see anything else that interests me either than Astronomy.

I'd like to say more but my computer is lagging:\

2003-Aug-31, 08:16 AM
Engineers drink more, and they get paid more (I'm going to get in trouble saying that in this forum).

I used to want to devote my life to astronomy too, however I find that I can still get enjoyment out of it without being a professional.


2003-Sep-01, 03:07 AM
I think astronomy is likely to be much more difficult then engineering.
A really serious engineer would likely have a masters or maybe even a PhD in the subject of persuit.

But a really serious PROFESSIONAL astronomer will have no less then three PhDs, and more likely closer to a dozen.

However, like Kashi said, you don't need that kind of education to simply enjoy the hobby. Hope this helps.

2003-Sep-02, 07:53 AM
Well, I don't know about having 3 or 12 PhDs in Astronomy:))

The point is not the title or so ... you have one and only one PhD
and then do your research. When person receives a PhD title this
means he/she can work and produce science. This is what the job
offerers look for. Just believe me on this :rolleyes:

A good astronomer should work on as many projects as possible
in order to get more science moving and also to get people to know
him/her :))

OK, Cheers.

2003-Sep-02, 08:03 AM
Originally posted by kashi@Aug 31 2003, 08:16 AM
Engineers drink more, and they get paid more (I'm going to get in trouble saying that in this forum).

Kashi it's your point, why should you get in trouble? Everybody
has it's own approach to the things.

Also "bing" an astronomer sometimes I'm also thinking similarly:))
But, look there are more exciting things in Astronomy:))

More seriously astronomers collaborate with engineers in order to
get new instruments! So one can be an engineer but work for astronomy:)

At the present there is not a clear boundary between professions.