How to become an Astronomer/Astrophysicist in India? | Books to fuel your knowledge in Astronomy

Astrophysics is on par with Astronomy; Cosmology is beyond the time/galaxy's limitations. Cosmology is more like an ancestral study.
Nikita Kumari

What is Astronomy

Astronomical science is a Universe based study. It deals with the space, celestial bodies/beings, stars and their evolution, planets and their future collisions with asteroids, comets; It is totally a research-based career to opt.

Indian Astronomy

India, a prestigious country of knowledge, having excellent scriptures about Astronomy. Vedanga and Vedanga Jyotisha are the main literary sources of Indian astronomy which date back to 1500 BC.

Galaxy
Source: Unsplash

Modern Astronomy

Through the time-lapse Astronomy had developed from being observational to being theoretical. Theoretical astronomy is totally based on the laws of applied physics.

The two fundamental aspects of Modern Astronomy:

  • Understanding the position of earth in the universe 
  • How had it came to be located in its position.

Astronomy vs Astrophysics vs Cosmology

The‌ difference between Astronomy and Astrophysics is as much as a crack in a groundnut. While you choose your interest - suitable stream, it becomes important to actually differentiate between the two twin subjects; Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Astrophysics is a branch of Astronomy itself, that deals with the physical and chemical aspects of astronomical objects.

Astronomers are much interested in looking for new heavenly bodies and naming them peculiarly. Having said that, it clues, that Astronomy is a study of the positions of cosmic bodies.

While Astrophysics is on par with Astronomy; Cosmology is beyond the time/galaxy's limitations. Cosmology is more like an ancestral study; a study of 'what the present universe comprises of?'; and also includes predictions about the future of the cosmos.

How to become an Astronomer/Astrophysicist in India?

To be able to fulfil your dream of becoming an astronomer/ astrophysicist you needn't worry much if you already have the below-mentioned qualifications. And if you don't; well! go and pursue them; it's always about curiosity not the recognized piece of paper.

  • You must have a Maths background along with physics and Chemistry in your 12th.
  • Then, pursue a BSc degree/ B tech (computer science) along with building your foundation in physics and mathematics. You can also prepare for entrance tests to get admission to a well-recognized University to give fuel to your dreams.
  • You need to have a master's degree in Astrophysics/ Astronomy/ Physics./ After Btech, simply be a master in technical science (Mtech).
  • Doing a PhD in Physics will now make you a ready-to-be-tested recipe by the CSIR - UGC-NET fellowship programme. This programme is conducted twice a year; in June and December.

Book lists to fuel your knowledge in Astronomy

  • Theory of Everything ( by Stephen Hawking )
  • Cosmos ( Carl Sagan )
  • The Cambridge star atlas ( Wil Turion )
  • The backyard astronomer's guide ( Dickinson and Dyer )
  • Starlight nights ( Leslie Peltier )
  • Astrophysics for people in a hurry (Neil DeGrasse Tyson )
    Pelican Nebula
    Source: Unsplash

Skills that set the stage for Astronomy

Critical thinking :

Critical thinking is the art of criticising. The great astronomer, Copernicus has broken the misbeliefs of geo-centric theory by criticising and finding the factual theory of helio-centrism. You must collect information about Astronomy from magazines, television and articles; start criticising, putting your visions and ideologies into consideration. This will open doors to discovering new theories.

Continuous learning:

As the phrase goes that a rolling stone gathers no moss. A person who is lethal about learning new things will definitely grow mouldly.

Having a good foundation in:

Maths, physics and chemistry are the subjects which lay the groundwork for Astronomy. You must have a command of these subjects to find your feet in Astronomical science as a career.

Complex problem solving:

Now, problem-solving in the case of Astronomy is definitely not a child's play. You have to remember numerous constellations and their positions and mug up the history of incidents that happened in a particular system to be able to effortlessly calculate and research new incidents ahead.

But once you have mastered it; the universe would look quite fascinating to you.

Data interpretation:

Astronomy is also a science of statistics. The data of numerous stars being discovered every now and then is to be analysed and kept.

High research capacity:

The famous author 'Steve Magee' says "There is something in the sky awaiting discovery". Astronomers would probably get a good night's sleep. Given, when the universe is ready to shovel out at night.

What are the career opportunities to blow one's chances in Astronomy

  • Astronomy professor
  • Astrophysicist
  • Research consultant
  •  Research Physicist
  •  Research scientist
  •  Astronomer
  •  Physicist

Best of the bunch (4 subfields of Astronomy)

Astrophysics:

     A study of the universe applying the laws of physics in space.

Astrometry:

     Similar to geometry; it is mapping of celestial bodies in space. 

Astrogeology:

     Examining rocks, terrain and material in space. 

Astrobiology:

     Searching for life outside earth.

Foutte, cocher!! dear future Astronomers. Let me discharge you with a revitalizing quote -

"The thing I like about Astronomy is being outside at night and seeing the stars in a dark sky. It makes you feel small"
—Jimmy Walker

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About the Author

Nikita Kumari
Has a curiosity worm penetrated into the cerebrum since born. Always on hustle to improve language and technical skills. Bibliophile. Astrophilic!! More of a fictitious being.

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