Dreaming of Becoming an Astronomer?

Astronomy is one of those magical careers that kids dream about all their childhood, before life and reality all too often gets in the way. Yes, entry into professional stargazing is tough. Even those with high grade PhDs have to jostle with many others with equally excellent qualifications, because job openings are so very few.

That said, if your passion is astronomy and you’re determined to make it into something more, there are two paths you could realistically take. Firstly, the conventional route- enter into a science degree with a background in physics, and excel enough to undertake postgraduate studies. This is considered a minimum for professional astronomy- usually either a PhD, masters or possibly first-class honors with a heavy research component. Doing so is nowhere near a guarantee of a job, either- so make sure you have a backup plan in mind as you follow this career path.

Another, perhaps more appealing option to many enthusiasts, is the amateur route to scientific recognition. Set yourself up with some decent equipment, and dedicate a certain amount of your week to studying the heavens. This may sound like an unrewarding approach, but just ask David Levy, a Canadian who has discovered over 23 comets while doing this at his modest home setup.

Astronomy is a tough field to get into the conventional way, but if you have persistence and talent, you can make it one way or the other.