Astronomers work in teams in laboratories, which have all the facilities for research and observation, or in classrooms as faculties for the students of astronomy. Their working conditions are quite challenging, with visits to various locations, long hours of study, research, and night duties. However, the challenges in this profession are the best thing for those who have a keen interest in astronomy. Astronomers get the chance to work for prestigious and well-known institutions, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The main task of an astronomer is to use the important concepts of physics and mathematics, to study the different aspects of the universe. This study mainly involves researching about the different facts related to the galaxies, star astronomy, and the moon. They visit observatories to note down their observations, and finally disclose the truth in the form of theories and research paper presentations. However, they have to be very clear about what exactly they wish to observe, and which instruments will be required for this observation.
The job of an astronomer includes the minute study of the celestial phenomena, by using all the essential devices. They are known to use high-end telescopes, micrometers, photometers, spectrometers, cameras, and radiometers for carrying out their research work. Finding out the size, color, orbits, and wavelengths of celestial bodies, movement details, and brightness of the objects in space, are also some of the important aspects of this job. They also work on designing electronic and optical instruments for observation and collection of information related to objects in space. They take keen interest in studying the origin and formation of the innumerable stars and planets, along with the details of their structure.
This job includes delivering lectures on astrophysics as well as astronomy, and conducting seminars and workshops for interested candidates. Developing the necessary software for analysis of space, and accurate measurements of the extraterrestrial emissions, such as X-rays and gamma rays, are some other duties included in their profile.
Skills and Educational Qualifications
Having special interest and aptitude for subjects like physics and mathematics, logical thinking, reasoning abilities, good command over languages for writing reports, handling presentations, and knowledge of computers are the most essential skills for the job of an astronomer.
One can enter this field with a bachelor's degree, either in physics or astronomy. Generally, candidates with master's degree or a doctorate are given preference while being recruited for the posts of senior level researchers.
The median salary of an astronomer is pegged at around USD 100,000. The average salary of someone who is working as a government employee is around USD 75,000. The salary varies as per years of experience and skills. Those astronomers with a doctorate can expect to earn around USD 80,000, and this figure can reach USD 100,000 annually after sufficient experience and quality performance. Those having a master's degree can expect to earn around USD 50,000.
The job description of an astronomer, and the education and salary details suggest how lucrative this career can be. However, you will have to start the preparation for becoming one quite early, as it requires deep study of the subject.