Astronomer in Observatory

Astronomers study the universe and its celestial bodies by collecting and analyzing data. They also compute positions of stars and planets and calculate orbits of comets, asteroids, and artificial satellites. They strive to explain how the universe came to exist, how elements formed, why galaxies look the way they do, and whether there is other life in the universe. Astronomers make statistical studies of stars and galaxies and prepare mathematical tables giving positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars at a given time. They study the size and shape of the Earth and the properties of its upper atmosphere through observation and through data collected by spacecraft and Earth satellites. There are approximately 1,760 astronomers employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) None
Duties Study the universe and its celestial bodies by collecting and analyzing data
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country
Minimum Education Level
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Master's Degree
School Subjects
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
Experience Internship; research experience
Personality Traits
  • Curious
  • Scientific
  • Technical
  • Math
  • Scientific
  • Writing
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • College Professor or Top-Level Researcher
  • Astronomer
  • Research/Technical Assistant or Optical Worker