So You Want to Be an. Astronomer; MULTI-SKILLED: Astronomers Need to Have Good Powers of Observation along with Determination, Patience and Analytical Ability

Article excerpt

What does being an astronomer involve?

2009 is the year of astronomy. Astronomers use a wide range of scientific techniques to study celestial bodies and their composition, motion and origin.

Advances in astronomy are made through research - defining a question, gathering relevant data, formulating a hypothesis, and then testing the predictions.

Computers feature prominently. Most astronomers specialise in addressing a particular question or area of astronomy such as planetary science, solar astronomy, the origin and evolution of stars, or the formation of galaxies.

What skills do you need?

To be an astronomer you should have good powers of observation; be methodical, logical, and able to make sound judgements; and have the patience and determination to see projects through to completion - often over several years.

In addition, you should be able to analyse problems relating to mathematics and physics, be able to produce scientific reports for publication and have the confidence to make presentations about research results.

On top of all this, an astronomer is expected to have strong computer skills and be able to forge links with colleagues around the world.

What qualifications and training do you need?

To start, a degree in a subject such as physics, mathematics, astrophysics, geophysics or a related science subject is needed.

Some universities offer courses in space science and technology.

Entry to a degree course requires three A levels including mathematics and physics, plus five GCSEs (A-C) grades including mathematics, English and science subjects. …