Recently, a few of the younger members of the society have asked me just how they can get into astronomy as a career. And as someone who’s spent the majority of their life as a science teacher, and then an Astronomy lecturer, I feel like I’m in the perfect position to give some advice to the younger generation.
A career in astronomy is one of the most rewarding things that you can look for in life if you have an interest in astronomy. It’s a blessing to spend your career involved in something you have a genuine interest for, so it only makes to consider a career in astronomy if it’s something you’re interested in. So, let’s consider some of the things you’ll need if you want to maintain a career related to astronomy.
Passion and Interest
I’ve been interested in astronomy from a really young age. When I speak to fellow members of the society, they’ve all had a deep interest in astronomy since a youngster. In my opinion, having an interest in the science is the most important thing that you’ll need to carve out a career within this field. If you don’t have a strong interest in the topic, then it’s going to be much more difficult to keep up to date with astronomical discoveries.
It doesn’t matter how much passion and interest that you have in astronomy. If you don’t have a science related degree, then you’re not going to be able to get a traditional job within the industry. There are a ton of good universities in the UK which offer courses in astronomy, and it’s worth checking them out – Liverpool John Moores University have an awesome astronomy course you might want to take a look at.
For me, I started teaching astronomy because I had a passion for teaching. But after I graduated, there was a plethora of different opportunities available to me within the astronomy field. Astronomy jobs are usually divided into two different fields – theoretical and observational. And whilst theoretical astronomers deal with predictions and creating computer models, I was more interested in observational astronomy (which deals with collecting and analysing data.
Overall, there are many different ways that you can get involved in astronomy but generally you need to take the same route by getting a traditional degree. Concentrating in school is the first step to getting a good career within astronomy.