Beyond the Stars: A Career in Astronomy – Scope & Opportunities

There is a great demand for astronomers to handle, maintain and store necessary data. If you are looking to take up a study in this unique profession, you should not miss this article. Here’s how you can make a career in Astronomy.

What is Astronomy?

Astronomy is the science which deals with the study of heavenly bodies.  It considers:
(a) their motion, both real and apparent, and the laws which govern those motions;
(b) their forms, dimensions, masses, and surface features;
(c) their nature, constitution, and physical condition;
(d) the effects which they produce upon one another by their attractions and radiations;
(e) their probable past history and future development.

Astronomy is necessarily an observational science rather than an experimental one. The discussions and interpretation of observations employs the use of mathematical analysis, often of the most advanced type. Celestial bodies and celestial environment provide natural laboratories for studying physical phenomena in extreme conditions which are seldom realised in our terrestrial environment.Physical and mathematical theories are thus stretched to the limit to provide explanations for the celestial phenomena that we observe.

Modern astronomy requires the use of most modern and advanced technologies, e.g. in fabrication of modern telescopes, in buildingimaging and spectrscopic equipment to observe and analyse radiation received from the celestial objects. It needs fast computers, state-of-the-art software to handle data and process images, it needs stable space platforms to observe radiation otherwise blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Branches of Astronomy

  1. Astrochemistry: A branch of astronomy and chemistry dealing with the chemical composition and evolution of the universe and its parts.
  2. Astrogeology: The science dealing with the structure and composition of planets and other bodies in the solar system.
  3. Astrometeorology: The study of the theoretical effects of astronomical bodies and forces on the earth’s atmosphere.
  4. Astrometry: The branch of astronomy that deals with the measurement of the positions and motions of the celestial bodies.
  5. Astrobiology: The study of life beyond the earth’s atmosphere as on the planets

Eligibility Criteria:

Astronomy & Astrophysics may be taught as a special course in the M.Sc. programmes of the physics departments in the universities or colleges. It is desirable for a student to acquire proficiency in physics and mathematics at the graduate level and then to Astronomy & Astrophysics specialization. An engineer with a B.Tech or B.E. degree, with an aptitude for Astronomy and Astrophysics, can also enter the field as a research scholar.

Though it is not necessary to undergo any formal training in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the undergraduate level, it helps the student to develop a general interest in the field, from reading good popular books or as an amateur astronomer. Research Scholars are expected to undergo one year course work in various subjects including Foundations of Classical & Quantum Physics, Mathematical Techniques, Numerical Analysis & Computing, besides introductory courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics. A good Ph.D. programme takes about four years to complete.

Skills Required:

  • The essential quality to become an astronomer is curiosity, enthusiasm and greater concentration
  • Good imagination, persistence, problem-solving and analytical skills and must possess both mathematical and computer skills
  • Have patience is required in this field as the astronomers has to work long for irregular hours
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills are also important because most astronomers are expected to work as part of a team
  • Must be capable of explaining scientific phenomena and conveying the information in an easily absorbed format and language
  • Must apply equal measures of analytic thinking and imagination, logic and intuition, to answer the most fundamental questions about the cosmos

Courses in Astronomy:

  • B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering
  • B.E Electrical Engineering
  • M.Sc (Astronomy & Astrophysics)
  • M.Tech (Earth System Science)
  • M.Sc (Solid State Physics)
  • M.Tech (Optical Engineering)
  • M.Sc in Astronomy
  • M.Sc in Astrophysics
  • M.Sc in Meteorology
  • PhD in Astronomy
  • PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • PhD in astrophysics PhD in atmospheric science and astrophysics

Colleges offering courses in Astronomy:

  • Indian Institute Of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Bangalore
  • Tata Institute Of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai
  • Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore
  • National Centre For Radio Astrophysics, Pune
  • Inter-University Centre For Astronomy And Astrophysics (IUCAA),Pune
  • Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubaneswar
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore
  • Punjabi University, Patiala
  • Osmania University, Hyderabad
  • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Allahabad
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • Madurai Kamaraj University
  • Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam
  • Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University, Roorkee
  • Swami Ramanand Teerth University, Nanded

Job Opportunities:

An acute need for young scientists in the field of Astronomy is present. The following possibilities are open for a career for a physics / mathematics / engineering graduate with a specialization or a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    • Research Scientist: Several research institutes and government organizations employ research scientists in various academic grades for research oriented programmes.
    • University Faculty: There will be more openings in the universities, especially in physics departments, for specialists in Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Industry: Experience with sophisticated astronomical instrumentation and the expertise gained in computer programming and handling data can serve as valuable assets for jobs in industry.


For anyone who has done PhD in Astrophysics or related subjects in Astronomy, the beginning salary for a candidate is around Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh per year. As the experience increases, salary also rises. In fact, the salary of an Astronomer is one of the highest in India.

(Edvantage Point is India’s go-to platform for education-related products and services. We facilitate online admissions and recruitment services for schools, offer career advice and counselling services for students).

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