Astronomy has long fascinated people. Humans have never ceased
wondering about the night sky. Many just look, wonder and go back to their
regular work. Astronomers make the study of the universe their life's career.
Astronomers study the movement of stars, planets, moons and comets. They
study distant galaxies and the birth and death of stars many light-years away.
They are always discovering something new about the universe.
Astronomers are curious about the world around them. They enjoy exploring
and learning new things. They also enjoy thinking about such monumental questions
as: How did the universe evolve? Could there be other life forms in the universe?
Astronomy is a science that requires a firm grounding in physics and math.
An astronomer must also be imaginative, logical and intuitive.
Astronomers actually spend very little time gazing at the stars. Most of
their time is spent analyzing data. "I spend about five or six days at a telescope
every six to eight months. The rest of my time is spent studying the data
I collect," says astronomer Anne Cowley.
Sometimes astronomers don't even use a telescope to observe the universe.
They study data generated on super computers. To be a good astronomer, you
need to have an interest in data collection and research.
Astronomers are scientists. They must follow the scientific method of creating
and testing their theories. They must check and double-check every theory
they create and calculation that they make. They have to have an eye for detail.
"Researchers who can do it well are very successful," says Matthew Ashby,
an astronomer in Massachusetts.
Astronomers generally work 9 to 5, but they do spend extra hours at the
telescope when it is required.
The physical requirements for being an astronomer aren't too taxing. An
astronomer's work is done in front of a computer. A physically challenged
person could do most of the work required.