What are some occupations involving astronomy?

A career related to astronomy can offer wide open possibilities — literally! Although some see astronomy as the oldest science, study of the origin and physical nature of the universe is erupting with news all the time — discoveries of light echoes around exploding stars, gamma ray bursters, voids in space, "great walls" of galaxies, cosmic jets, and remnant radiation from the "big bang" 15 billion years ago.

Among science professions, astronomy is a pretty small field. More than half of the 6,000 professional astronomers in North America work in university or college teaching positions. About a third are employed by the federal government, a national observatory, or a federally supported laboratory. Other astronomers have jobs in private industry, such as aerospace and satellite communications companies.

Most astronomers earn Ph.D.'s and have strong backgrounds in physics, chemistry, and math. Geology, computer science, and communications studies can also help prepare high school and college students for jobs such as meteorologists, telescope operators, science writers, scientific equipment sales reps, or planetarium exhibit planners.

If you're fascinated with planets, moons, stars, solar systems, and the vast mysteries of outer space, you're bound to find a fit with studies in astronomy. After all, the sky's the limit!