MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: What is a typical job of an Astronomer.

Area: Astronomy
Posted By: Pauline Barmby, grad student, Astronomy, Harvard University, Astro. Dept.
Date: Tue Jul 29 08:51:43 1997
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 869578450.As

Typically, astronomers work either for universities or (mostly government) observatories - placees like Kitt Peak National Observatory or the Space Telescope Science Institute. These days, however, many astronomers don't stay in the field of astronomy after graduate school or postdoctoral work, and they can then be found working in many fields, from medical imaging to the stock market.

For information about careers in astronomy, a couple of places to look are Sten Odenwald's answers to questions about a career in astronomy or the American Astronomical Society's brochure A New Universe to Explore: Careers in Astronomy. Also, check the previous astronomy questions on MadSci Network!

The popular idea about astronomers is that they stay up all night looking through telescopes and sleep all day. This is not generally the case: most astronomers only spend from a few days to a few weeks a year at a telescope, and some theorists never go observing at all!

On a day-to-day basis, the work that astronomers do falls into a few general categories:

Astronomers have to do stuff like go to meetings, fill out forms (often requests for grant money) and do administrative tasks, but most of them would rather not have to do these things.

I hope this gives you some idea of what astronomers do.


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