Astronomers observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

  • Mentor graduate students and junior colleagues.
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.
  • Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects.
  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
  • Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.
  • Supervise students' research on celestial and astronomical phenomena.
  • Raise funds for scientific research.
  • Teach astronomy or astrophysics.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.
  • Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Review scientific proposals and research papers.
  • Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.
  • Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.
  • Conduct question-and-answer presentations on astronomy topics with public audiences.
  • Direct the operations of a planetarium.
Work Context
  • Electronic Mail — 96% responded "Every day".
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 96% responded "Every day".
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 82% responded "A lot of freedom".
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 73% responded "A lot of freedom".
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 73% responded "Extremely important".
  • Level of Competition — 62% responded "Extremely competitive".
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 55% responded "Every day".
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Work Activities
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
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Detailed Work Activities
  • Review professional literature to maintain professional knowledge.
  • Serve on institutional or departmental committees.
  • Support the professional development of others.
  • Advise students on academic or career matters.
  • Supervise student research or internship work.
  • Provide technical information or assistance to public.
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Knowledge

Mathematics
  • Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics
  • Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Computers and Electronics
  • Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
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Skills

Reading Comprehension
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Science
  • Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Critical Thinking
  • Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning
  • Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
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Abilities

Mathematical Reasoning
  • The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Oral Expression
  • The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
  • The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Deductive Reasoning
  • The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
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Personality

People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
  • Achievement/Effort
  • Persistence
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Cooperation
  • Concern for Others
  • Social Orientation
  • Self Control
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Technology

You might use software like this on the job:

Office suite software
  • Microsoft Office Hot Technology
Object or component oriented development software
  • R Hot Technology
  • Python Hot Technology
  • Oracle Java Hot Technology
  • C++ Hot Technology
Analytical or scientific software
  • IBM SPSS Statistics Hot Technology
  • SAS Hot Technology
  • The MathWorks MATLAB Hot Technology
  • Starcal
  • Multipurpose Interactive Image Processing System MIIPS
  • Visual Numerics PV-WAVE
  • Software Bisque CCDSoft
  • MSB Software Astroart
  • Adaptive optics AO simulation software
  • Analyz
  • Astronomical Image Processing for Windows AIP4WIN
  • Astronomical Image Processing System AIPS
  • Astronomical information processing system AIPS++
  • Data reduction software
  • Diffraction Limited MaxIm DL
  • European Southern Observatory Munich Image Data Analysis System ESO-MIDAS
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Education

Post-Doctoral Training or
Doctoral Degree
usually needed

Get started on your career:

Job Outlook

New job opportunities are less likely in the future.
Salary
$119,730
$62,410
$189,690