Study the skies
One of the oldest and intriguing sciences is Astronomy. It deals with all the celestial bodies and the material universe outside the earth’s atmosphere. It is concerned with the study of the universe which includes the study of motion, nature, law, constitution, history and possible future developments of heavenly bodies like the sun, planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, satellites etc.
Astronomy is divided into several branches such as Astrophysics, Astrometeorology, Astrobiology, Astrogeology, Astrometry, Cosmology etc. This branch of science ensures promising career for those who have an aptitude to unravel the mysteries of the universe. With the rising trend toward nuclear technology there is a great demand for scientists from this field.
In the professional level, astronomy is divided into observational astronomy and theoretical astrophysics. While the former deal with observing celestial bodies by using telescopes, binoculars, cameras, unaided eyes etc and collecting data for building and maintaining instruments; the latter is concerned with data analysis – finding out the conclusions of observations of computers and explaining the observational results. Theoretical astrophysics is more analytical and astrophysicists model data.
Astronomy is considered to be a sub branch of physics, so one needs to be good at general physics in order to enter this field. One can specialize in various branches of astronomy as the subject is very vast. It varies from varies from the instrument building teams to the theoretical branches where mathematical ability and physical intuition is essential. Instrumental astronomy specializes in the design and construction of astronomical instrumentation at different wavelengths, for ground and space-based observatories. Experimental Astronomy acts as a medium for the publication of papers on the instrumentation and data handling necessary for the conduct of astronomy at all wavelength fields. Those who have chosen science stream can do theoretical astronomy or observation.
Candidates interested in this field should pass the heir plus two examinations under the science stream, especially in physics and math’s. There are not any colleges that offer astronomy at the under graduate level. One has to major in physics to take up astronomy at the master’s level. A doctoral degree is the usual educational requirement to become an astronomer, since most of the work tends to be related to research and development. For doing PhD, which is mandatory to do research, one should appear for the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) examination.
For pursuing a career in Instrumentation/ Experimental Astronomy, after plus two one can go for Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical / Electronics/ Electrical Communications. An engineer with a B. Tech or BE degree could also enter the field as a research scholar.
A beginner in the field of astronomy may be inducted as a researcher into an existing team which would be already working on a project. Ph.D. holders begin their careers in a postdoctoral research position, in which they may work with experienced physicists as they continue to learn about their specialty and develop ideas and results to be used in later work. Another option for the PhD holders is the teaching job. People specializing in this field find work with the government, defence and space research organizations, electrical and electronic equipment manufacturers etc. They may work for commercial/ non-commercial research, development and testing laboratories, observatories, planetarium, Science Park etc.
The remuneration depends on the aspect of work, type of organization and experience in the field.
There are a number of universities that offer masters course in astronomy like the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCRA-TIFR), Pune.