A career in astronomy deals with the study and observation of the universe. Professionals in this focus on studying galaxies, asteroids, black holes, stars, planets and other celestial bodies. Pursuing a career in astronomy can be a challenging venture. However, this career path is rewarding and you will have the opportunity to explore amazing discoveries. As an astronomer, you will be part of leading innovations in areas such as technology, data science, and communication.
If you are interested in starting a career in astronomy, you need to understand what this career path entails, and the skills you need to succeed and advance.
In this piece, I will walk you through the processes required to start a career in astronomy.
Steps to Start a Career in Astronomy
Obtain a Bachelor’s degree
You must have a bachelor’s degree before you can start a career in astronomy. The bachelor’s degree must be a science-related course with a major in astronomy or physics. Additionally, it would help if you also had a strong foundation in subjects such as mathematics, geophysics and astrophysics. Generally, this degree will give you the foundational knowledge you need to pursue a career in astronomy.
Obtain a Master’s Degree
You need to pursue a master’s degree after you have gained your bachelor’s degree. This degree will enable you to get advanced knowledge in astronomy. Additionally, you can get knowledge on the areas of specialisation you wish to pursue. You can specialise in areas such as observational astronomy, astrophysics, theoretical astronomy, etc.
Develop Relevant Skills
You need to build skills that will enable you to perform well as an astronomer. You should build skills such as technical skills, software skills, communication, teamwork and writing skills.
You can gain experience through means such as internships, apprenticeships or volunteering. This experience is needed in your career journey because it allows you to perform and contribute to research. Additionally, it allows you to practice what you have learned theoretically. Furthermore, these experiences can help you to build your skills and expertise.
Pursue a Doctorate Degree
Many employers prefer astronomers to have advanced degrees such as a doctorate. This is because of the complexity of this field and having a doctorate can prove your expertise. Therefore, you can further your education by obtaining a doctorate. Additionally, this degree will allow you to carry out more research to add to your portfolio.
Types of Astronomers
- Planetary Scientists: Planetary scientists specialize in the study of solar system objects such as planets and moons. Additionally, they study their composition, geological features, atmospheres, and potential for hosting life.
- Radio Astronomers: Radio astronomers use radio waves rather than visible light to study celestial objects. They study occurrences such as radio galaxies, cosmic microwave background radiation, and the Milky Way’s structure.
- Observational Astronomers: Observational astronomers use telescopes and other observational instruments to gather and analyse data from celestial bodies. They investigate the properties, motions, and behaviours of celestial bodies such as stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies.
- Stellar Astronomers: These astronomers investigate the properties and life cycles of stars. These astronomers may specialise in a variety of star types, such as massive stars, variable stars, and binary star systems.
- Exoplanet Astronomers: Exoplanet astronomers are experts in discovering and studying planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. They detect and characterise exoplanets using techniques such as transit photometry and radial velocity measurements.
- Theoretical Astrophysicist: Theoretical astrophysicists use mathematical models and computer simulations to study the chemical reactions and phenomena that occur in the universe. They investigate phenomena such as stellar evolution, galaxy formation, cosmology, and black hole behaviour.
- Galaxy and Cosmology Researchers: These astronomers specialise in studying galaxies and the universe’s large-scale structure. Additionally, they study galaxies’ formation and evolution, distribution and clustering, and the processes that drive the universe’s expansion. Furthermore, investigates galaxy mergers, dark matter, dark energy, and the conditions of the early universe shortly after the Big Bang.
Universities in Africa to Study Astronomy
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
- Cairo University, Egypt
- University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
- University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
- North-West University, South Africa
- University of Ibadan, Nigeria
- Ain Shams University, Egypt
- University of Sfax, Tunisia
- Rhodes University, South Africa
- University of Monastir, Tunisia
- Zagazig University, Egypt
- Tunis University, Tunisia
- Assiut University, Egypt
- University of Nigeria, Nigeria
- University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
- Makerere University, Uganda
- Benha University, Egypt
- Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
- University of Botswana, Botswana
- Mohammed V University, Morocco
- University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene, Algeria
- Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
- Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
- Helwan University, Egypt
- Durban University of Technology, South Africa
- Minia University, Egypt
- University of Lagos, Nigeria
- Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
- University of Carthage, Tunisia
- Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
- Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
- Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria
- University of Khartoum, Sudan
- University of Annaba, Algeria
In Conclusion, pursuing a career in astronomy requires a high level of dedication and commitment to this field. You need to lay the right foundation as it will serve as a breakthrough to your career success. Additionally, you need choose the area of specialisation you wish to pursue. This will enable you to have a focus in your career pursuit. Then, obtain the required education and skills that will enable you to excel.