View Full Version : asking your help about careers in astronomy

2004-Sep-17, 04:53 PM

I am 15 year old girl from Malta and I have always been interested in space and astronomy. My dream is to take up a career and be able to work in this field. I sincerely am interested, no intrested isn't the right word, I am in love with the subject and please believe me it is not a foolish, childish dream!!

This is why I decided to write and ask anyone who can help me to do so. I tried to find help from many sources but I found none. You might be asking what my problem really is. Well I 've come to the point where I need to choose five subjects which would later help me determine my career, so I need to know what careers are really available in astronomyand what they exactly consist of and what qualifications they require.

Please belive me, I did try everything and I hope that my plea will not fall once agian on deaf ears and that somebody will help me


2004-Sep-17, 08:06 PM
When I was fifteen, I wanted a career in astronomy. I didn't get one.
The careers in astronomy that I am aware of are:

- Professor/researcher
- Observatory technician/administrator
- Space probe builder/designer
- Seller of professional & amateur equipment

Normally I'd assume it is the first category you're interested in. It usually requires a PhD, and doesn't pay that well considering how much work and luck it takes to get and keep the job. On the other hand, I've heard that it can be very satisfying if you love astronomy.

2004-Sep-18, 01:09 AM
I think being an astrobiologist would be interesting. What ever you do, start taking the science and math courses you can now. Both will help in any of the careers you may choose. What specific part of astronomy/space do you love?

Here is a perfect site for you. http://www.khake.com/page41.html

2004-Sep-18, 07:18 AM
Yeh, you need to be really good at both Maths and Science.....I thought about a career in astronomy but when I looked into it, it looked so hard. I've only just got my maths GCSE after the 4th try!!! If your ok with maths and science (physics) then go for it. I only wish I was able to do it but I really don't have the brains! :blink:

2004-Sep-18, 07:59 PM
The thing about astronomy is that it's practical rather than theoretical, so taking math and science might just not be enough. You actually have to put a lot of effort in skywatching. My advice: chat with the fellas who post in the astrophotography section, see what they've got to get their pics, and start getting pics of your own. Learn degrees and seconds and arc (pay close attention to trig) and, if you want to be sleek and professional, research and film one particular kind of star (clusters, quasars, supernovas, cepheids, etc.).

2004-Sep-18, 08:57 PM
Starlab, she was wanting to know what subjects to take in school to help her realize dream of a career in the space industry.

2004-Sep-21, 09:50 AM
I want to say a big thanks to all of those who sent their replies and peices of advise epesially to Tinaa that website was really great, thanks :)

2004-Sep-28, 04:01 AM
hi i am 22 i have a small teleskope ... i am from slovenia in europe... i was wondering if ... i dont know somebody with a lot of experience in space field would like to tel me how do i fet into a star observatory ... its my biggest wish ...i am absoltuly in love in stars ... i enjoy watching star trek and and when i look at the stars is almost if they are teling me that i was menth to something great....

my biggest wish is to make a diffrence in the world... and to help mankind

for a brighter future... so we would be able to forget our past mistakes and believes and step into a new are .... an era of understanding discoveries and space travelling that is beyond our wildest imagination....

if anybody else feels like me... and would like to get to know beeter and speak and exchange some thoughts...

i am available at originalnost@hotmail.com

best wishes


p.s. i would like to work with stars too and maybe with a bright mind ... too see and help in the way i am able too .... learn on the way.. and maybe to give you a piece of my mind...and point of view of the space ...MAYBE THERE IS SOMETHING YoU DIDNT THINK ABAUT yet

2004-Oct-01, 04:02 PM
I just wanted to give Antoniette some words of encouragement. I am 32 years old and am currently working on my masters in a completely unrelated field to astronomy but as a child, it was my dream to be an astronomer. Unfortunately I listened to people around me, especially my dad, who pretty much told me that I was not smart enough to follow such an intensive field. To this day I still regret listening to other people and not listening to my heart....

SO hang in there Antoniette and keep working towards your goal everyday, don't let anyone discourage you!!!

Galaxy Guy
2004-Oct-07, 05:34 AM
Astronomers have the most interesting perspectives regarding the meaning of life and our purpose in the cosmos, sometimes I've found even more so than philosophers. I've recently purchased a 5" aperture newtonian reflector and have been avidly exploring the cosmos. I am wondering though how I can contribute to astronomy as an ameture. I'd appreciate any feedback. Also, I would like to get involved in spectral analysis, though I have no idea where to begin and if my telescope is even suited for the task.

Dave Mitsky
2004-Oct-07, 08:29 AM
The employment situation in professional astronomy is not very rosy. There are only about 10,000 professional astronomers in the entire world. A mere 25% of those with PhDs in astronomy or astrophysics in the USA actually find permanent positions in those fields.

You must have an aptitude for mathematics and physics. Be prepared to spend up to five years in graduate school to acquire a PhD and several more years as a low paid postdoc.

See http://www.astroleague.org/al/astrnote/astnot24.html and http://www.aas.org/education/careers.html#preparation

Dave Mitsky

2004-Oct-07, 12:40 PM
If anyone wants my tuppence worth...

Academia sucks. Having done a Ph.D, most departments are incestuous and you have to do a LOT of work for very poor returns. Research for the most part is incredibly boring (it can take a very long time to get that gem of a result- even then it can be anticlimactic).

Physics is a MUST as is computing (programming). Maths, some knowledge is better than none but if you do physics your general level of understanding would be sufficient.

Best jobs would be working in facilities or laboratories as a technician or technical person. That way you always work on the equipment (telescopes etc), you get to participate in other peoples research (you would be able to contribute), and the job would have variety (many groups would vie for time at the facility).

Only drawbacks are you would rarely (if ever) get to dictate the research and you are less likely to get a 'name' for yourself. But who seeks that when you are doing something because you love it.

Good luck!

ps. These days, even more so, amateur astronomers are contributing highly to the field. Equipment is far more advanced as is the software and computing power, so even if you dont get that dream job you can still persevere at home!

Ola D.
2004-Oct-08, 08:37 AM
Originally posted by eyeinthesky77@Sep 18 2004, 07:18 AM
I thought about a career in astronomy but when I looked into it, it looked so hard. I've only just got my maths GCSE after the 4th try!!!
LOL.. Congratulations eyeinthesky :) I'm taking now Physics, Mathematics and Biology as 3 A-level subjects -It's my last year at school. So wish me luck! :ph34r:

My parents, my whole family lets say, aren't being encourging and supportive for my intentions to study Aerospcae Engineering or to get into this field. So i'm a bit confused about that. It's a big matter to consider now, especially that i don't want to waste my college years studying something that i'm not into..

2004-Oct-08, 12:02 PM
Hi Ola,

In the end it is your carrer not your families, so when you decide to apply for courses base your decision on that. I would stiil like to enter the aerospace industry but as with all jobs it is a matter of opportunity. Do your research, and not just about jobs, but the type of work that these companies do (maybe a materials science or an aeronautics degree would be more beneficial?). Finally, I would recommend a sandwich course or one that gives you an opportunity to work briefly in Industry. This is far more valuable than getting a few percent in an obscure module.

Good luck in your exams!

2004-Oct-08, 12:39 PM
Hi bunny! mind sharing your phd degree? what is your field of specialization? From what university?

2004-Oct-08, 02:30 PM
I am a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none as they say. I have a hunger for knowledge, rather than looking for expertise in a niche.

started with applied physics/astrophysics for degree, went into polymer physics (detour I should have avoided-but the Ph.D was close to home) will be returning to optical/laser physics, which is my primary interest if my job seeking turns out okay.

It is a pity I had no definite career plan earlier. I envy those who know what they want to do a get about doing it. No doubt my career (or lack of) would have taken a different path.