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We know that Astronomy is the area of science education which deals with outer space objects like planets, stars, comets, galaxies, and their phenomena like their physical and chemical properties, etc. An astronomer is a person who applies the principles of Mathematics and science i.e. Chemistry and Physics to study the Universe using telescopes, computer programs, and collecting information on the celestial bodies in the Universe.
Q: How to become an astronomer? Is a Ph.D. degree a must?
Ans: The requirement to get into astronomy or to become an astronomer varies from institutions to institutions or universities to universities but the basic criteria are given below:
The applicant must have completed his HSC/+2 in the science stream with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
They can then get into astronomy for their graduation with Physics and mathematics as their secondary subjects. The candidate can specialize in instrumental/theoretical/experimental or observational astronomy.
a) Candidates from the engineering background can also apply if they have completed their full-time B.E/ B.Tech degree in electrical/electronic communication. They can opt for experimental or instrumental astronomy. The courses are B.Sc in Astronomy / Astrophysics which are 3 years full-time course or as mentioned, B.Tech in related Engineering which is a 4 years full-time course.
b) After their graduation, they need to go for post-graduation (PG) in Physics or Astronomy. i.e. M.Sc. in Astronomy/ M.Tech in Astronomy and Space Engineering
c) After completing their post-graduation, they need to take the entrance test and interview (depends upon the institution) for completing their Ph.D. which will be your specialization in the astronomy field. Ph.D. in Astronomy / Astrophysics / Astronomy and Astrophysics or Atmospheric Science and Astrophysics. One can also join Integrated Courses i.e. M.Sc – Ph.D. Course in Physics and Astrophysics / M.Tech – Ph.D. (Tech.) course in Astronomical Instrumentation.
As mentioned above, to become an astronomer, one needs to have a doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in astronomy, physics, or a related field that is essential for staff and researcher positions.
Some of the entrance exams conducted by institutes throughout India for completing their Ph.D. basic requirement to become an astronomer are:
1. Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) which is conducted every year in the month of February whose advertisement is given in the leading news channels and newspapers.
2. Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP) is conducted by IIA, IISc, and RRI at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The selection process and the interview of the final candidates normally completed in the month of July.
3. The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) selects the candidates through screening from the JES (Joint Entrance Screening) Exam which is held in the month of February every year. IIA then conducts their exam in the month of November every year whose advertisement is published by September.
4. Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) conducts its written exam in the month of July every year followed by an interview. The selected candidates need to clear the UGC-Net, GATE, or CSIR exam within a span of 1 year after getting admitted for their Ph.D. program.
5. Autonomous Research Institutes (ARI): RRI, NCRA, UPSO, ISRO conduct the entrance exam every year for ARI and the qualifying candidates are called for the interview in July.
Q: Which are the colleges in India that provide courses in the field of Astronomy/Astrophysics?
A: Some of the top colleges that provide courses in the field of Astronomy/Astrophysics are as given below:
1. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Chennai, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
2. Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS)- Pilani
3. Indian Institute of Technology Madras ( IITM)- Chennai
4. Indian Institute of Science (IISc)- Bangalore
5. The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), Bangalore
6. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
7. Osmania University, Hyderabad
8. National Institute of Technology (NIT)- Thiruchirapalli
9. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram
10. Indian Institute of Technology ( BHU IIT )- Varanasi
Q: What jobs are likely to be available to someone who has studied astronomy?
Ans: If you want to be a reputed astronomer then you will have to start from the basics i.e. enhance your skills and experience by doing practical work doing a fellowship at local or foreign universities. This will help you with computing, mathematical analysis, data reduction, and instrumentation which will be an add-on for you. After having enough experience one can apply to NASA, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), CERN, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Technology Information, Forecasting, and Assessment Council (TIFAC), etc. Other than that one can also work as an Aeronautical Engineer, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Climatologist, College professor, Meteorologist, Physicist, Planetarium director, Research Scientist, Senior Technical writer, etc. which also pays well in terms of salary.
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