Everybody likes to look at the night sky with myriads of stars and dream. But have you ever thought about this science from a more practical perspective? Learning this subject is an even more captivating occupation. Now, you may ask yourself what it’s all about? What does astronomy mean? Is it worth studying this subject in college? We explored this subject and wanted to represent our findings in this article.
A Mysterious Discipline
So, what do astronomer study? This discipline studies various celestial objects like galaxies, planets, stars, comets, constellations, nebulas, etc. Astronomy also explores processes that take place in the universe: creating of new stars, the formation of black holes, lunar eclipses, and flashes in the surface of the sun. It has always been of great interest to people because space seemed mysterious to them. It is used for predictions as well. However, we described few areas of research that belong to this field of science.
This discipline is divided into observational and theoretical. Observational astronomic science is focused on collecting and analysis of data. Theoretical astronomic science helps develop models to describe astronomical objects and processes that take place in the space.
What Do Astronomers Do?
Astronomers develop and test scientific theories, analyze data and write research proposals. Also, they write scientific works and present their research findings in conferences. As a rule, astronomers are working in a team unless they’re employed as senior specialists.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying Astronomy
Learning this discipline is different from learning other subjects. It can be your vocation for the rest of your days or a hobby. In any case, it will never leave you indifferent. Modern science is interlinked with other fields, such as astrophysics, celestial navigation, etc. This science is the base for astrology which is widely used in our society but isn’t considered a science yet. It is funny and exciting to study astronomy. We outlined several advantages and disadvantages of becoming an astronomer below.
Table 1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying Astronomy
||1. It’s an excessively complex discipline. It can be difficult to learn for some students.|
||2. One who decides to study this discipline should be genuinely interested in it. Astronomy is more a vocation rather than a profession.|
||3. Learning this discipline may require more time than one is expecting when making a decision to study it.|
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Studies and Degrees
What astronomy degree do different colleges and universities currently offer? As a rule, graduates are awarded Bachelor of Science, but some universities award a degree of a Bachelor of Science and Arts.
If you decide to dedicate your life to this subject, most probably, you will also study the related disciplines like chemistry, physics, and math. Usually, it takes around 3-4 years to complete the Bachelor’s degree in astronomy. You will need to study 1-2 years to get a Master’s degree. If you’re pursuing a career in NASA, you will have to study for 1-2 years to obtain a Ph.D. degree in this discipline. However, learning this subject is worth efforts because the starting average salary for astronomers is around $100,000.
The studies are organised in the form of lectures, practical seminars, and tutorials. Students learn how to use astronomic catalogues, star charts, telescopes, and images. Students are assigned written assignments, research projects and tests to assess their knowledge. Typically, learning programmes on this subject include modules on physics: dynamics, atomic physics, and electromagnetism. Also, astronomy students are required to write dozens of essays, and if they don’t feel like they can manage to do that on their own, they can always try to buy an essay paper.
In addition, having the discipline as the major will involve studying of the following modules:
- The Solar System
- The History of Astronomy
- The Contents of Galaxy
- Astronomy Computing
- Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology.
- We’ve already mentioned here that astrology interrelates with multiple subjects. It means that you shouldn’t worry about your future career because you can be employed in many areas once you obtain a BSc.
- There are also several areas of this discipline where specialists are needed on a continuous basis: cosmology, astrophysics, astrobiology, solar astrophysics, and planetary geology.
- Cosmology studies cosmos, its objects and the evolution of the universe. It studies the universe as a whole, its formation and structure.
- Astrophysics studies celestial objects (stars, planets, galaxies) and their behaviour. Dark matter, black holes, and dark energy are also in the field of studies of astrophysics. In addition, astrophysics explores the possibility of time travel, the existence of the multiverse, the formation and ending of the universe and the formation of wormholes.
- Astrobiology is concerned with the evolution, origins, and lifeforms in the universe. It also learns habitable environments in the solar system and outside of it. Astrobiology presents interest for those who are interested in searching for extra-terrestrial life.
- Solar astrophysics learns the behaviour of the main star in the solar system – the Sun – that helps better understand the behaviour of other stars in our galaxy. The job of solar astrophysics is essential because the activity of the Sun makes the impact on climate change in the Earth.
- Planetary geology explores the behaviour of celestial objects (planets, asteroids, comets, etc.). Planetary geology is similar to Earth geology and presents interest for those who like geography.
Evidently, when preparing a research paper related to the fields above, you should demonstrate persuasive writing style to convince your professor that you possess decent knowledge in the field.
Astronomy Colleges and Universities
You can try your luck in the following astronomy colleges in the US:
- Stanford University
- Princeton University
- California Institute of Technology
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In the UK, you can obtain a BSc degree in astronomy in the following educational institutions:
- Oxford University
- Cambridge University
- Imperial College in London
There are many universities and colleges that offer the courses on this discipline in other countries, including Germany, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
During the course of this subject you will develop the following skills:
- Research skills
- Data analysis
- Technical expertise (knowledge of specific software)
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills.
In order to apply for studies in one of the listed universities you should comply with the following requirements:
- IB diploma (34-38 points)
- A+ marks in physics and math
- Passion for the science
Having working experience in this field is desired, but not required.
Let’s imagine that you obtained a degree in this discipline and now you’re wondering, what can you do with an astronomy degree? The majority of specialisations in this discipline are research-based. Here we picked up several employment opportunities in the field:
- Universities (research associates, lecturers)
- Observatories (astronomer’s assistant, telescope operator)
- Planetariums (workshop assistant, guides)
- Museums (guides)
- Research organizations (researcher)
- Aerospace industry (researcher, aerospace expert).
In this article, we offered extensive information regarding learning astronomy. We hope that this article was interesting and useful for those who are dreaming of learning this captivating discipline that isn’t explored enough for now. By applying to one of the universities we listed here, you can contribute to the development of this field and, probably, discover new forms of life in our galaxy.