Astronomers

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Also known as:
Astronomer, Astrophysicist

ABOUT ASTRONOMER CAREERS
Video transcript

Space may be the final frontier, but it's been studied since the dawn of civilization. And while early man could only stargaze with unaided eyes, astronomers today use extremely sophisticated equipment to examine the universe. From giant telescopes here on the earth to unmanned probes travelling millions of miles into deep space, information is collected and interpreted, often with the use of computers.

Astronomers may study electrical storms on the sun, track the thousand-year orbit of a meteor, or search for signs of life in a faraway galaxy. They spend years in college and graduate school, developing a foundation of knowledge in physics and math. A doctoral degree is usually required for jobs in this occupation. While some of these scientists develop theories about the very nature of the universe, others work at practical matters such as satellite communications and telescope systems.

Astronomers are most likely to be employed by research facilities, universities, or museums that house planetariums. Often their work includes the need to write grant proposals for funding. It is a complex science, rooted in something simple - looking up, wondering, and wanting to know "what's out there?"

SNAPSHOT
Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.
Leadership
MED
Critical decision making
LOW
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
LOW
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.

Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.

Raise funds for scientific research.

Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.

Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.

Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.

Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.

Review scientific proposals and research papers.

Serve on professional panels and committees.

Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.

Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
TOP SKILLS
Science Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.