Career Opportunities in Astronomy and Astrophysics


Astronomy is an ancient science that has existed since the dawn of civilization. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Indians developed advanced astronomical systems nearly 3000 years ago.

During the 2nd century AD Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaus), one of the most celebrated of the ancient Greek astrono¬mers, put forth a conception of an earth- centred (geocentric) universe that influ¬enced astronomical thought for more than 1,300 years. It was only in the 16th cen¬tury that Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus – in his ‘De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI’ challenged the basic tenets of the Ptolemaic system by assigning the central position to the Sun.
This heliocentric vision marked the beginning of modern astronomy. The dis¬covery of elliptical orbits by Johannes Kepler, the application of the telescope to astronomical observation by Galileo Galilei and the formulation of the laws of motion and gravitation by Isaac Newton followed. Other significant contributions came in rapid succession. In 1750 Thomas Wright, for example, postulated that the universe was made up of numerous galaxies. Later in the century another English astronomer, William Herschel, undertook the first thorough telescopic survey of the heavens and established the foundations of modern stellar astronomy. Since
then there has been no looking back for astronomy.

Overview of The Career

Areas of work

There are three distinct areas of work within astronomy. They may be broadly classified into:

•Astronomical research
•Design and manufacture of laboratory and auxiliary equipment
•Education and training

Nature of work

Astronomy is the science that deals with the origin, evolution, composition, distance and motion of all bod¬ies and scattered matter in the universe.
The major areas of current interest – X-ray astronomy, gamma-ray astronomy, infrared astronomy, and radio