What Does an Astronomer Do?
Astronomers can specialize in a range of subjects related to space and the universe including theoretical astronomy, solar astronomy, planetary astronomy, stellar astronomy and galactic cosmology. Astronomers can work in a laboratory or classroom environment where they analyze data, or do fieldwork at an observatory where they can observe planets and stars using powerful telescopes and cameras. They collaborate with mathematicians and physicists to develop technology and contribute to current knowledge about the natural behavior of the universe and different heavenly bodies. They explain complex theories to their colleagues, write reports on their findings and give presentations on their research.
Astronomer Skills and Qualifications
A successful Astronomer will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed for their job duties. The right candidate will have a high-level of problem-solving skills and an in-depth knowledge of research and data analysis. They must be grounded in mathematics, physics and the sciences, proficient in science-related software programs and be able to work within a team.
Here are common Astronomer skills and qualifications:
- Ph.D. in astronomy, physics, mathematics or related field
- 5-10 years’ in a postdoctoral research position
- Excellent research skills and an ability to solve complex problems
- Proficiency in using astronomy, mathematical and physics software packages
- Data analysis and computer modeling
- Strong communication and collaborative skills
Astronomer Salary Expectations
The data is not available for the average annual Astronomer salary. However, Astronomers are specialized professionals and receive excellent salaries. They often work in research institutions, universities, observatories, labs and other science-related fields. They can be Researchers, Professors, Civil Servants or Field Scientists. Pay varies based on seniority, the area of specialization, geographical location and employer, among other factors.
Astronomer Education and Training Requirements
Depending on the position, Astronomers require a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree in astronomy. Candidates can specialize in a specific area of astronomy including stellar and planetary physics, astrophysics, cosmology, optics and interstellar medium. They need a solid background in mathematics including calculus, statistics and algebra, and excellent computer skills such as data analysis and modeling.
Top candidates will have postdoctoral research experience, especially when applying for industrial and government positions. They require an extensive knowledge of industry specific software tools to analyze and model data from ground and space-based equipment. Astronomers have to be proficient researchers and writers because they must consistently read, write, publish and present scientific papers at conferences.
Astronomer Experience Requirements
A successful Astronomer will be an adept researcher and excel at solving complex problems. The job requires an excellent understanding of the fundamental principles of physics and mathematics and how they relate to the universe.
Experienced Astronomers will have a good working knowledge of the industry’s computer programs to aid in the analysis, modeling and troubleshooting of data from multiple sources. They are also excellent communicators because their work requires seamless collaboration with several teams of scientists and engineers across different time zones.
A great Astronomer will understand the different aspects of astronomy and how they can answer big questions about the universe and its elements.
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