How to become an Astronomer in India | Eligibility Criteria, Entrance Exam, Colleges, Skillset

How to Become An Astronomer in India?: For the past few years Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved some of the great feats. If you are one of those who gets fascinated by the infinite number of unknown things existing in space and also want to study all the known celestial bodies such as the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and others then you can choose to become an Astronomer. Once you become an astronomer you will get a chance to discover the whole universe. But not everyone can become an astronomer. There are certain challenges that you need to overcome but the career is lucrative and highly rewarding. In this article we will be discussing everything that you need to know in order to become an astronomer in India.

Refer to Course Details to know more about related courses and find details like Admission Process, Eligibility Criteria, etc.

What is the Job of an Astronomer?

Before discussing the job of an astronomer it is better to know about the subject itself, astronomy. Astronomy is one of the oldest branches of Science. In the field of astronomy collective knowledge of Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry is required. In the modern day and age astronomy has two distinct divisions and they are – Theoretical astronomy and the other one is Observational astronomy.

  1. Theoretical astronomy: In this field of astronomy several astronomical phenomena and position of celestial or cosmic objects are explained using analytical methods.
  2. Observational astronomy: All the possible data is collected of the universe that we can observe. Usually in an observatory a group of astronomers work together to observe objects such as stars, other galaxies and black holes et cetera.

An astronomer is someone who studies the whole universe and everything that is in contact with our own solar system. In short it can be said that the subject deals with everything beyond the atmosphere of the planet earth.

Eligibility Criteria to Become an Astronomer

The eligibility criteria may differ on the basis of the institution that you will choose to join. Some of the basic requirements are –

  • A candidate needs to complete the 10+2 level with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as core subjects.
  • You as an Aspiring astronomer need to select the field. The available options are Instrumental, Theoretical and Observational Astronomy.
  • If you are looking to be in the field of engineering then you can choose to go become an Instrumental or experimental astronomer.
  • In the field of Observational astronomy a candidate needs to choose at least one subject from the science stream.
  • In order to become an instrumental astronomer an aspirant needs to have a full time Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) degree in electronic communication.
  • A candidate can pursue a career in Theoretical astronomy only after completing the PhD in Physics.
  • To join any one of the courses in Astronomy a candidate needs to clear the entrance examination first. Only then on the basis of the rank obtained can he or she get a seat in any one of the institutions that offer the courses.

Entrance Exam for Astronomy Courses

Entrance Examinations are held across all over India every single year. By clearing the examination you can join any one of the reputed institutions.

  1. Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) examination: Candidates will be selected in the Indian Institute of Astrophysics after Joint entrance screening.
  2. After the completion of masters degree in Physics, Computer science, Astronomy, you can join a full time doctoral program in Interuniversity Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). A candidate needs to clear UGC-Net, GATE et cetera.
  3. Other than that you can also choose to give Joint Entry Selection Test (JEST), Joint Astronomy Program Test (JAP).

You can also choose to join an Autonomous Research Institutions (ARI)

Colleges for Astronomy Course

Just like any other courses, astronomy courses are also offered at various levels. Three most popular courses at Bachelor degree level are –

  1. Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics – Course duration is 3 years.
  2. Bachelor of Science in Astronomy – Course duration is 3 years.
  3. Bachelor of Engineering – Course duration is 3 years.

Popular courses at masters degree level are –

  1. Master in Astronomy
  2. Master of Science in Astronomy

PhD courses that you can pursue after the completion of master’s degree are –

  1. Doctorate in Astronomy
  2. Doctorate in Astrophysics
  3. Doctorate in Atmospheric Sciences

Integrated courses are also available in this field. They are –

  1. M.Tech-PhD integrated programme in Astronomical instruments
  2. Integrated M.Sc and PhD. Programme in Astrophysics.

Colleges that you can join to pursue any one of the bachelor degree course programmes.

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Chennai
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – New Delhi.
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kanpur
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Mumbai
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kharagpur
  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science (INTSTB) – Pilani
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT) – Tiruchirapalli
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Guwahati

After becoming a graduate from any one of these institutions you can choose to do masters in the same field from the following institutions.

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – New Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kanpur
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM) – Chennai
  • Indian Institute of Science (IIAS) – Banglore
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT BHU)-Varanasi
  • Indian Institute of Technology – Mumbai
  • Indian Institute of Technology – Guwahati

Skills Required to Become an Astronomer

In order to become an astronomer a candidate needs to possess certain skills. They are –

  • Scientific Knowledge: Adequate knowledge about all the scientific rules, hypotheses and phenomena is required to solve various types of problems.
  • Emphasis on Mathematics: Ability to solve complex mathematical problems.
  • Formation of Strategy: He or she should be able to form strategies by following all the instructions in any given situation.
  • Active Learning: An aspiring astronomer should have the capability to understand the complex mechanisms that he or she needs to deal with in the field of astronomy. This knowledge can only be provided in an observatory. So, Active learning capability at that very moment becomes necessary.
  • Good Listener: An astronomer must be a good listener as while working he or she will receive a lot of instructions which need to be listened to very carefully without wasting any kind of time.
  • System Evaluation and Analysis: Performance of every single working system in an observatory needs to be measured and after this evaluation, one also needs to analyse them.
  • Decision Making: As an astronomer on most occasions you will have a lot of options in front of you. You must have the ability to choose the right path for you.
  • Human Resource Management: If you are posted in the top position of an observatory then there will be several people working under you. You have to keep them motivated for work and also have to select the best people for a job.
  • Operation Analysis: To create an effective design of a product, you as an astronomer need to analyse the operation first. Only then you can have an idea about your requirements.
  • Financial Resource Management: Every single country has a set budget that astronomers can spend every year to discover space. You as an astronomer also need to keep an eye on the financial resources that you have.

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Career Prospects of an Astronomer

Seats in the institutions in India are limited. So, if you want to study Astronomy or Astrophysics you need to go to IIST and have to study physical science. You can also choose to study from a foreign university but the fees will definitely be more. In India after completion of the course most of the Astronomers choose to join Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

You can join ISRO just after the completion of your bachelor degree. But if you choose to join international space research organisations such as NASA or CERN then you need to do your masters and it is better to complete the PhD. Start your career at any one of the space research organizations as an astronomer and you will always have a chance to improve and move forward in your career.

How to become an Astronomer in India

Recruiters of an Astronomer

Mainly space research organisations recruit astronomers. Other than that job profiles are –

Senior Technical Writer

  • Director Planetarium
  • Professor
  • Meteorologist
  • Researcher
  • Climatologist
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Astronomer
  • Astrophysicist

You can choose any one of these from the above mentioned jobs as all these jobs come with a lucrative salary package. You will get an impressive starting salary and the salary will increase with every passing year if you keep up your performance.

Salary That an Astronomer Can Expect

Depending on the field of study and degree you possess you can join a job. With the increasing experience and possessed skill set your salary will increase. In the beginning you can expect an annual salary of 1550000n USD.

Final Words on How to Become An Astronomer in India?

Some of the most eminent astronomers in the history of this world are Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Christiaan Huygens, Charles Messier and others. Your name will be etched in golden letters with all these famous people if you manage to discover something unknown in space. Hope this article has proven to be helpful for you and you have gained an idea about the career of an astronomer in India. So, if you are willing to pursue a career in Astronomy do not hesitate to do that as a bright future will be waiting for you ahead.

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