Many young children grow up wondering about the stars in the sky at night. As they grow older, they gradually realize that stars are not just pretty bright lights, but balls of matter far, far away from our planet. Astronomy is the scientific study of the universe from the time it was created, to what it is today and what it might be in the future.
If you’re interested in astronomy, you will need to develop an interest and aptitude in physics as well. The two go hand in hand. While most universities have their own admissions standards for their Astronomy program, an exceptional ability in physics and mathematics is often a requirement. It will also help your cause if you have superior grades in the sciences in high school particularly in biology, chemistry, environmental science, statistics, geology, and geography. You will also need to demonstrate a deep appreciation for astronomy, although previous knowledge or experience in the field is not always an absolute requirement.
In college, your work will involve more than just peering through a telescope. You’ll learn about the formation and development of the universe and the objects inside it, including stars, planets, and comets. Your college career will be filled with sciences courses, particularly physics. Other courses can also focus on biology, geology, and chemistry.
It must be admitted that a bachelor degree in Astronomy is generally considered insufficient for the majority of astronomer employment positions. Usually you will need a Ph.D.
However, by choosing this degree you will have already developed advanced skills and knowledge in science, math, and technology. You’re now an expert in research methods, critical thinking, and scientific observation. That means you can apply for many jobs that have a need for this particular skillset.
In general, graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Astronomy become science teachers or work in either science computing or science writing.
As a teacher, you can teach elementary or high school students, imparting an appreciation and interest for astronomy among them. As a writer, you can write scientific articles that can translate scientific jargon into words the general public can better understand. You can even write novels with a firm background in astronomy.
You can also join many tech companies that need employees with astronomy backgrounds or even just scientific backgrounds.
Best Schools to Get an Astronomy Degree
While many universities outside the US often excel in Astronomy undergraduate programs (Oxford and Cambridge being the most notable examples), many universities here have just as high a reputation in the field.
Most surveys place MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) atop the rankings, followed closely by Harvard University. Following them are Stanford University, the University of California Berkeley, Princeton University, and Caltech (the California Institute of Technology). These schools are considered among the top 10 universities for Astronomy in the world.
American universities which are also included among the top 20 in the world for Astronomy include the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Yale University, the University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of California Los Angeles.