When you think of astronomers, do you picture someone like this?

Astronomer looking through a telescope and writing with a quill pen

Looking through a telescope is only part of the way astronomers study the Universe.

So what do they do?

Astronomers are physicists that study:

  • how the Universe works including stars, planets, and galaxies

  • the origins and structure of the Universe

They do this through observation, not just from telescopes but from satellites and spacecrafts too.

Where Do Astronomers Work?

Office

Offices: Astronomers who work for governments, universities or private industry will spend the majority of their time in offices - analyzing data or preparing reports

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Classrooms: About 55% of Astronomers work at universities where teaching is their main focus

Laboratory

Laboratories: Astronomers might work in laboratories with sophisticated computer technology to do their data analysis

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Observatories: Astronomers work in observatories some of the time, but not much. They might spend 10-30 nights a year gathering data in observatories

Will It Pay My Earth Bills?

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Canada: Average yearly salary for an astronomer is $97,767

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USA: Average yearly salary for an astronomer is $88,644

What Skills Do Astronomers Need?

Computer and engineering skills

Astronomers may spend a significant amount of time programming and building instruments to help them analyze the Universe.

Scientific writing skills

They will write scientific papers and reports to explain their work.

Public speaking skills

Astronomers need to present their findings at conferences in front of large audiences.

What Qualifications Do Astronomers Need?

Student graduating Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash
  • An Undergraduate degree in a Physics-related subject

  • A Master’s degree in a Physics or Astronomy subject

  • A Ph.D. in a specialization such as radio, solar, cosmos, or galactic astronomy

You Will Love Being An Astronomer If...

  • You are logical and analytical

  • You enjoy problem-solving

  • You can explain complex subjects verbally and in writing

Two puzzle pieces coming together under the text,

Quiz

Tatiana is in High School and is interested in becoming an Astronomer. What are some of the ways she could practice the skills required for her future?

Look For Another Career Path If…

  • You don’t like the idea of sitting at a computer for most of the day

  • You don't enjoy traveling and talking about your work

  • You don’t like the idea of doing a lot of paperwork

Someone pushing a

Pick The Future Astronomer

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Jeremy

  • loves learning new things but wants to start working after high school

  • loves the outdoors but prefers to go on vacation near his home

  • likes creative writing but is not detail-oriented.

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Alina

  • likes learning about how things work

  • disassembles household objects to put them back together again

  • loves to talk to her friends about what she's learned and is building a website to keep track of these projects

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  • loves arts and crafts

  • enjoys helping her mother plant flowers in their garden

  • likes school but dislikes spending time indoors writing essays

  • prefers outdoor sports like soccer and tennis

Quiz

Who do you think would be most likely to make a good future Astronomer?

Take Action

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If you want to find out more about becoming an astronomer, follow these steps:

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This Byte has been authored by

FC

Fariha Choi

Digital learning Specialist