Careers in Astronomy

Introduction

Astronomy is the science which deals with the study of heavenly bodies, their motions, forms, nature, history and future development. Astronomy is rather an observational science than an experimental one. However, the use of mathematical analysis is required for interpretation. The celestial bodies and celestial environment provide natural laboratories for studying astronomy. Physical and mathematical theories are stretched to the limit to provide explanations for the celestial phenomena that we observe. Modern astronomy requires the use of most modern and advanced technologies especially spectroscopic equipment to observe and analyse radiation received from the celestial objects. It needs fast computers, state-of-the-art software to handle data and process images. It requires the facilities like optical, infra-red and radio astronomy facilities. The most important requirement is motivated and talented young scientists in this field.

Eligibility

Graduate with Physics /Mathematics /Engineering graduate with a specialization or a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics

  •  MSc programme with Astronomy & Astrophysics specialization.

  • Proficiency in physics and mathematics at the graduate level.

  • An engineer with a B.Tech or B.E. degree, with an aptitude for Astronomy and Astrophysics, can also enter the field as a research scholar.

  • Research Scholars are expected to undergo one year course work in various subjects including Foundations of Classical & Quantum Physics, Mathematical Techniques, Numerical Analysis & Computing, besides introductory courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Remuneration

As with any position, salaries can vary depending on geography and seniority. A fair guide though would see junior researchers and assistants earning around £20-23,000 per annum, while more experienced astronomers, with a track record and who take on lecturing or academic work, can earn anything up to £60,000 and beyond.

Career opportunities

  • Research field: Several research institutes and government organizations employ research scientists in various academic grades for research oriented programmes. The jobs are also available in private and autonomous research institutes. The jobs as director/scientist/research associate/research assistant/technician, etc are available.

  • Teaching field: Opportunities for teaching astronomy and astrophysics are available in the universities and some reputed colleges. There are many openings in the universities, especially in physics departments for specialists in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

  • Industry: Experience with sophisticated astronomical instrumentation and the expertise gained in computer programming and handling data can serve as valuable assets for jobs in industry. They can also serve in fabrication of instruments related to astrophysics and astronomy.

Courses:

  • Universities offer Astronomy & Astrophysics specialization at M.Sc., and in some cases, a Ph.D. programme: Punjabi University, Patiala, Osmania University, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Allahabad, Bangalore, Burdwan, Kolkata, Delhi, Gauhati, Gorakhpur, Gujarat, Indian Institute of Science, Jadavpur, Kamaraj University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam University, Pune university, Punjab University, etc.

  • Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA): IIA has a full-time Ph.D. programme for which the students are selected through an entrance exam, followed by an interview. Highly motivated candidates with a M.Sc. degree in Physics / Maths or M.Tech. in Engineering & exceptional candidates with B.E. /B.Tech. degree and a good background in physics are eligible to apply for admission to the Ph.D. programme. www.iiap.res.in

  • Inter-University for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) has a regular Ph.D. programme for which applications are invited every spring from students who either possess M.Sc. in Physics / Applied Mathematics / Astronomy / Computer Science or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in engineering or technology with adequate background in physics and mathematics or are expected to qualify for these degrees. Selection is made through a written test and an interview. Selected candidate is required to clear the CSIR / UGC-NET / GATE exam within one year of admission to the Ph.D. if he/she has not done so already. www.iucaa.ernet.in

  • Joint Astronomy Programme: This course is of one year duration, conducted at Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore, jointly by IISc., IIA, RRI, TIFR. M.Sc., B.E., & B.Tech. degree holders. After the completion of the course, candidates are offered the opportunity for completing their Ph.D. at one of the participating institute. www.iisc.ernet.in

  • Autonomous Research Institutes: The autonomous institutes such as RRI www.rri.res.in, NCRA www.ncra.tifr.res.in, TIFR www.tifr.res.in, PRL www.isro.org, ISRO offer a Ph.D. programme after a selection through interviews.

  • Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST): is conducted at an all India level every year in the month of February for admission to Ph.D. programme. Many premier institutions participating in this programme. The pattern for JEST exam consists of multiple choice objective-type questions, with negative marks for wrong answers. Candidates who are successful in the entrance exam are called for an interview and depending upon their performance, are selected as Junior Research Fellows for Ph.D. programme. 

Institutes

There are several institutes in India which offer you to pursue a career in astronomy. Below is the list of institutes. You may visit these websites for more information.
Indian Institute of Astrophysics, (Bangalore)
Indian Institute of Science, (Bangalore)
Raman Research Institute, (Bangalore)
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, (Pune)
National Centre for Radio Astronomy

Most of these institutes offer opportunities to the aspiring candidates based on a joint entrance test followed by an interview.The minimum qualification required for appearing for the entrance exam is a
Master’s degree in Physics. Some of these institutes accomodate engineering graduates as well.

Opportunities abroad

Scholars going through Astronomy courses in India successfully are offered attractive placements in leading astronomy research organizations and educational institutes.

Niels Bohr Institute www.nbi.ku.dk/english

Space Telescope Science Institute www.stsci.edu/

NASA www.nasa.gov/

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center https://www.camk.edu.pl/en/

are among the premier astronomy research centers of the world.

 

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