Astronomer and Space Researcher
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Courses and Eligibility
For entering into this field, one should be good at general physics. Astronomy is a vast field which varies from the instrument building teams to the theoretical branches where mathematical ability and physical intuition is essential. Apart from good programming skills, curiosity and ability to search out answers are also essential in this field. One's career in this field depends on what aspect of astronomy they are interested to work in. In the professional level, astronomy is divided into observational astronomy and theoretical astrophysics. While the former deal with observing celestial bodies by using telescopes, binoculars, cameras, unaided eyes etc and collecting data for building and maintaining instruments; the latter is concerned with data analysis - finding out the conclusions of observations of computers and explaining the observational results. Theoretical astrophysics is more analytical and astrophysicists model data.
If interested in doing instrumentation or experimental astronomy, one can opt for the engineering stream. Instrumental astronomy specialises in the design and construction of astronomical instrumentation at different wavelengths, for ground and space-based observatories. Experimental Astronomy acts as a medium for the publication of papers on the instrumentation and data handling necessary for the conduct of astronomy at all wavelength fields. Those who have chosen science stream can do theoretical astronomy or observation.
For pursuing a career in Theoretical Astronomy/observations, one can do B.Sc. in Physics and /or Mathematics after 10 + 2. Master’s level course in Astronomy with specialization in Theoretical Astronomy is offered by various institutes and universities.
Instrumentation/Experimental Astronomy: One can do Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical / Electronics/Electrical Communications, after 10 + 2. Then one can appear for the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) examination, which makes one eligible to do specialization in astronomy leading to Ph.D. A professional astronomer also takes courses in microelectronics & instrumentation.
IISER offers integrated BSc/M Sc programmes in different fields of science, and also offers scholarship to young scientists at Pune, Kolkata, Bhopal, Mohali and Thiruvanathapuram.
Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) is conducted at an all India level every year in the month of February for admission to Ph.D. programme. The advertisement appears in all the leading newspapers and posters are sent to various institutions, colleges, universities all over India inviting applications. The institutions participating in this programme are:
- Harish- Chandra Research Institute (Formerly Mehta Research Institute of Mathematics & Mathematical Physics)
- Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore
- Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubhaneswar
- Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar
- Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune
- Inter-University Consortium for DAE Facilities (IUC-DAEF), Indore
- Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore
- National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore
- National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Pune
- Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
- Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore
- S N Bose Centre for Basic Natural Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata
- The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc.), Chennai
The pattern for JEST exam consists of multiple choice objective-type questions, with negative marks for wrong answers. Candidates who are successful in the entrance exam are called for an interview and depending upon their performance, are selected as Junior Research Fellows for Ph.D. programme.
Where To Study
Various programs from Graduate to PhD in astronomy and astrophysics are offered at:
- Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
- Indian Institute of science, Bangalore
- Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune (IUCAA)
- Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
- Tata institute of Fundamental research, Mumbai
- Raman Research Institute, Bangalore,Karnataka
- Indian Institute of Space Science Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram, KERALA. Offers B Tech course. The B.Tech Programmes at IIST include B.Tech in Avionics, Physical Sciences and Aerospace Engineering.The admission is through All India level admission test ISAT. Cost is borne by department of space.
- Andhra University, Visakhapatnam. Courses offered: MSc Space Physics (3yrs)
- Jawahar lal Nehru Technological University, College of Engineering, Hyderabad. Courses offered: MSc (Tech) Space Physics.
- MP Birla Planetarium, Kolkata. Courses offered: PG Diploma in Astronomy & Planetary Sciences
- Inter University Centre For AstronomyAnd Astrophysics, Pune, Maharastra.
- Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
- Punjabi University, Patiala,Punjab
- Mahatma Gandhi University,Kottayam, Kerala
- Osmania University,Centre for Advanced Study in Astronomy, Hyderabad 500007. Courses offered: MSc (Astronomy)