Hey Space Placers!
Maybe you have wondered what it takes to become a professional astronomer or know someone who wants to be one. I have had the privilege of meeting and knowing several professional astronomers and have had the occasion to discuss with them their profession.
A great article was recently posted in the astronomical literature that lays out the academic and job hunting requirements that anyone interested in the profession should read. The article provides other links to resources and gives sound advice and some stats on jobs, academic papers published per year and how many astronomers there are world wide - about 10,000.
The good news for the rest of us is that you do not have to be a professional astronomer to enjoy the Universe or make scientific contributions. Amateur astronomers and curious citizens do science by various means.
Amateur astronomers are making a difference, to include collaboration with professional astronomers, in the study of comets, asteroids, the planets, variable stars and supernovae discoveries. Citizen scientists are engaged in a number of Internet-based projects collectively called the Zooinverse involving galaxies, the Moon, Sun and a host of other projects. These projects have been wildly successful and will continue.
For you "arm chair" astronomers life has never been so good as the Internet has become a virtual Universe. Every NASA mission has dedicated social media resources - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Web Page - that you can almost literally tune in "live" as images, data and news are posted as they are received.
Every college astronomy department and observatory that I know of has a webpage you can visit and obtain news, articles, images and information. Planetariums, museums and astronomy clubs are on the 'net as well so you can find out more about them.
In to reading scientific papers like I am? You can browse this link and find posted papers galore in not only astronomy but other sciences and math as well.
One final note. Regardless of your interests, try to spend some time under the night sky and tune in to the"real deal". There is ALWAYS something to see…..
Sky Guy in VA
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