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Astronomer Job Description, Career as an Astronomer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

astronomers astronomy research degree

Education and Training: Doctoral degree

Salary: Median—$97,320 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Astronomers are sometimes called astrophysicists. They use the laws of physics and mathematics to learn about the nature of matter and energy throughout the universe, which includes the sun, moon, planets, stars, and galaxies. In addition, astronomers apply their knowledge to solve problems in navigation, space flight, and satellite communications. They also develop the instruments and techniques needed to observe and collect astronomical data.

Many astronomers work in colleges and universities where they do research and teach astronomy. Some work in observatories, planetariums, and museums where they help to explain what is known about the universe to the public. Others are employed by government agencies, such as the U.S. Naval Observatory or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A few work for companies in the aerospace industry.

Some astronomers primarily gather and analyze large quantities of data from observatories and satellites. They usually only spend a few weeks each year making observations with telescopes. For many years, satellites and other kinds of space-based instruments have greatly expanded the range of observation for astronomers. Most recently, new computer and telescope technologies are leading to a resurgence in ground-based observation techniques.

Astronomers must first decide which objects to observe and the methods and equipment to use. They may go to an observatory at a scheduled time and make and record their observations, or they may have assistants gather the data. Astronomers then analyze these observations, put them into numerical form, and if possible, explain them using existing hypotheses or theories.

Other astronomers spend most of their time working on new hypotheses, theories, or mathematical models. They often use computers to help them do the many calculations required to develop complex hypotheses about space. Such hypotheses may help explain some of the observations made by other astronomers.

Astronomers often specialize in one area, such as the sun, the solar system, or in the development of instruments and techniques. Their recent findings have included quasars, pulsars, black holes, and other mysterious phenomena in the far reaches of space.

The discoveries and theories of astronomers have been put to work in many useful ways. For example, they have improved weather forecasting, the measurement of time, and air and sea navigation. Astronomical study has been instrumental in the development of atomic theory and the exploration of space.

An astronomer at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., adjusts a telescope. Astronomers are sometimes called astrophysicists. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Education and Training Requirements

There are a few openings as assistants or technicians in astronomy for those who have a bachelor's degree in physics or astronomy. There are more opportunities for those who have a master's degree in astronomy or a related field, such as physics or mathematics. To be an astronomer, a doctoral degree in astronomy or a closely related field, such as astrophysics, is usually required. It takes about four years to get a bachelor's degree and about another four years of full-time study to earn a doctoral degree. Astronomers also spend time studying throughout their careers to keep up with new discoveries in their field.

Getting the Job

The astronomy department of your university will be able to give you advice and information about getting a job. You should apply directly to colleges and universities, national research centers, museums and planetariums, and other places that traditionally employ astronomers. Many of these jobs are advertised in professional journals. You should also consider applying for a job in places that have not traditionally employed astronomers. For example, a two-year college or high school may hire you, especially if you show enthusiasm for teaching and are prepared to teach other subjects in addition to astronomy. For some of these teaching jobs you may have to be certified by the state in which you teach. You may also be able to find other nontraditional jobs in industry, publishing, or scientific research. To find these kinds of jobs, you may first have to do a lot of searching on your own to determine the needs of employers.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Astronomers with a doctoral degree can advance by moving into high-level positions in research and teaching. Many astronomers consider recognition as an expert in their special field to be the best form of advancement. They usually get this recognition only after spending years on research problems and having the results of their work published in scientific journals. Astronomers with only bachelor's degrees will find only limited opportunity for advancement in astronomy. A doctoral degree or a move into a related field, such as engineering or high school teaching, provides the best opportunities for advancement.

Employment of astronomers is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2014. Although government funding of astronomy research is expected to increase from 2004 to 2014, funding will still be limited. This limited funding will result in competition for basic research jobs. Most job openings will result from workers who retire.

Working Conditions

Many astronomers work in well-equipped offices, laboratories, classrooms, and observatories with fellow scientists and students who share the same interests and goals. Others work with the general public to whom they try to convey their own interest in and enthusiasm for astronomy. Astronomers sometimes need to travel to remote observation sites and must often work at night. Most astronomers find their work exciting and personally rewarding because of the challenges it offers them. They usually devote long hours to their research and to the study needed to keep up with new developments in their field. They need to be patient and careful workers who can work for months or even years on the details of a research problem. They must also be able to communicate their findings to others.

Where to Go for More Information

American Astronautical Society
6532 Rolling Mill Place, Ste. 102
Springfield, VA 22152-2354
(703) 866-0020
http://www.astronautical.org

Universities Space Research Association
10211 Wincopin Circle, Ste. 500
Columbia, MD 21044-3432
(410) 730-2656
http://www.usra.edu

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary according to education, experience, and the type of employer. The median annual salary of astronomers was $97,320 in 2004. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.

Astrophysicist Job Description, Career as a Astrophysicist, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job [next] [back] Astronaut Job Description, Career as a Astronaut, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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almost 3 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

Thanx for the info...i really want a job like this when i get old enough....this helps my report alot Thank you!

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over 5 years ago

I just wanted to say thanks! This site was very interesting and informing. I had to write a report about Astronomers and this site helped me a lot! Thanks again! I really appreciate it!

-Jamie :)

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over 6 years ago

I MADE TO COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. THAK YOU SO MUCH

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about 6 years ago

Ever since I was in first grade, I really want to be an astronomer so I've decided to become one someday...Thanks for the info.

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over 6 years ago

I have always dreamed of being an astrophysicist-my interest began at a very young age and I unfortunately had situations in my life that kept me from finishing even high school. I still read about the subject, and am utterly fascinated with this area of science. For those of you who are contemplating this career--follow through-I'm sure it would be a very fulfilling life!

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over 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

this was alot of help and realy got my attention in how much i want to go into this line of work

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about 9 years ago

thanks so much for the info I needed something for my science report and couldn't find a thing until this showed up! thanks a kilo

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almost 7 years ago

thank you guys Thanks! It was really helpful for my career essay.

Read more: Astronomer Job Description, Career as an Astronomer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/386/Astronomer.html#ixzz14qZPwneV
Thanx soooo much for the info!!! Yours are so much simpler to understand! I am so glad I found you guys!!!

Read more: Astronomer Job Description, Career as an Astronomer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/386/Astronomer.html#ixzz14qZU9Uq7♥♥♥♥♥

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almost 9 years ago

Thanks! It was really helpful for my career essay.

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about 5 years ago

just needed to do some research for science class. im still in high school and my teacher is making us do this stupid presentation not looking forward to it but this helped alot.

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over 4 years ago

Where can i find something about the duties astronomers have to achieve each day?

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about 5 years ago

lovd the site it help me a lot like a lot like a very lot......anyways thank you i will see you all as my colleages.....or whatever its called i will see u all as astronomers :D

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over 5 years ago

I just wanted to say thanks! This site was very interesting and informing. I had to write a report about Astronomers and this site helped me a lot! Thanks again! I really appreciate it!

-Jamie :)

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almost 6 years ago

it got my attention and start working on it

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about 6 years ago

thank you so much for this. It really helped with my science project! It was an interesting field to study!

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over 5 years ago

This was very helpful this is very nice when choosing my career! Thank you

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almost 6 years ago

How can i work astronomy ?
Whwre can work , and what is must for that job. Mariyan ,Bulgaria

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almost 6 years ago

I Am intrested to step into the world of astronomy. i am a student of 11th standard. please suggest me how to become an astronomer and what to choose after 11th.

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over 3 years ago

Wow these comments make me upset. Glad to know everyone in comments box has a third grade education.

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over 6 years ago

hello fellow future astronomers we rock and even though im gonna have to compete with u all for this job ill be happy to work with people that love what i want

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about 9 years ago

this helpped us out a lot thank you so much i love you and i want to be with you!!!

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over 6 years ago

I totally would like love to be a astronmer theymake fat dough lol



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over 9 years ago

this was very helpful.thank you

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about 8 years ago

was helpful for completing my merit badge and i really want a job like this

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over 6 years ago

nice website, thanks for having a work cited

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over 6 years ago

It is my dream to be in astronomy! This helped a lot!

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

awsome

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over 8 years ago

Thanks lot.i am studying B.Sc.(physics).i want a job in astronomy.now i can complte M.Sc.(astronomy)& get the job.thank you once again.

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about 6 years ago

thanks for the info i had a science career report!

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about 6 years ago

This info was very helpful. I have wanted to be an astronomer since I was 7. I really hope to get this job when I'm older.

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over 6 years ago

is it me? or its just all of your comments have typo-error?

anyway, i like to have this job when im old enough.... im still 14 y.o. but fascinated in the fabric of time and space!>.....!.

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over 9 years ago

thanks for already citing this page! it saved me the work. and thanks for all the info you put on here, it was very helpful.

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almost 6 years ago

what insurance and vacations beniferts do you get in this job

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over 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

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over 9 years ago

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over 6 years ago

This is what i have been looking for hopefully nasa highers i think it is very unlikely though

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over 6 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

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=]

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almost 6 years ago

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about 6 years ago

hello

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almost 7 years ago

can you mail me on how to pursue a course in astrophyscis? where do i start from? i have been searching on google but it is of no use. can you please help in this career? thank you.

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almost 7 years ago

can you mail me on how to pursue a course in astrophyscis? where do i start from? i have been searching on google but it is of no use. can you please help in this career? thank you.

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over 4 years ago

HEYY YALL UMM SO I WAS WONDERING IF AN ASTRONOMER IS SOMEONE WHO STOPS ASTROIDS OR ARE MY PEEPS JUST MESSIN WITH ME??? LIKE IT WOULD BE A COOL JOB BUT HOW IS IT POSSIBLE ... THANKS

P.S. HII TO ALL DEM HOT GUYS OUT THERE

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about 3 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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about 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

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about 9 years ago

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about 9 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

thanx 4 the info. it really helped me for my astronomy report!

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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about 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

Is there any opportunity to medical graduate in the field of astronomy from research view point.

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almost 9 years ago

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over 1 year ago

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over 3 years ago

I am just 11 years old and my teacher said I should get started before it is too late.:)

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about 6 years ago

hello

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about 9 years ago

thnks alot for the info

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about 9 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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almost 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

tanx u helpd a lot

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almost 6 years ago

ive always wanted to be an astrounant but , i live in bahrain, so can anyone help me out? does anyone know any boarding schools that teach astronomy ?xx ty

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about 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

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almost 9 years ago

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over 9 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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about 5 years ago

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almost 5 years ago

I want to be an astronomer one day so I can see all those n****** I sent up to space!!!

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over 6 years ago

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almost 7 years ago

hi

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about 6 years ago

Well I am a little confused, this same website showed astrophysicisysts to earn 60,000 while here it is showing astronomers to earn 92,0000
Why

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over 6 years ago

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almost 7 years ago

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over 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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over 4 years ago

HEYY YALL UMM SO I WAS WONDERING IF AN ASTRONOMER IS SOMEONE WHO STOPS ASTROIDS OR ARE MY PEEPS JUST MESSIN WITH ME??? LIKE IT WOULD BE A COOL JOB BUT HOW IS IT POSSIBLE ... THANKS

P.S. HII TO ALL DEM HOT GUYS OUT THERE

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almost 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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over 4 years ago

HEYY YALL UMM SO I WAS WONDERING IF AN ASTRONOMER IS SOMEONE WHO STOPS ASTROIDS OR ARE MY PEEPS JUST MESSIN WITH ME??? LIKE IT WOULD BE A COOL JOB BUT HOW IS IT POSSIBLE ... THANKS

P.S. HII TO ALL DEM HOT GUYS OUT THERE

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over 1 year ago

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over 2 years ago

Ilike this page for my oun purpose according to my project

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over 4 years ago

HEYY YALL UMM SO I WAS WONDERING IF AN ASTRONOMER IS SOMEONE WHO STOPS ASTROIDS OR ARE MY PEEPS JUST MESSIN WITH ME??? LIKE IT WOULD BE A COOL JOB BUT HOW IS IT POSSIBLE ... THANKS

P.S. HII TO ALL DEM HOT GUYS OUT THERE

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over 4 years ago

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over 5 years ago

This sucked. But thanks anyways...

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over 4 years ago

im doing a project about the description of an astronomer and more. i need info for a 2 page report

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over 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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almost 2 years ago

This place sucked balls

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about 2 years ago

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about 2 years ago

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almost 3 years ago

including you.

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over 3 years ago

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