Astronomy

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The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences offers a BA and a BS in Astronomy. Astronomy is the physical study of stars and stellar systems in the observable universe, its origin, physical properties, changes, and the distribution of its physical phenomena. Astronomy is applied physics, applied using the tools of advanced mathematics, the technology of modern telescopes, and state-of-the-art computer software. An astronomer observes, analyzes, interprets and reports findings.

Astronomy Department website


Sample of Related Skills

  • Research the science of the physical study of stars and stellar systems in the observable universe
  • Demonstrate an understanding that science is based upon observations of the universe and how that is used to understand some basic phenomenon of our world
  • Apply scientific reasoning to future astronomical discoveries to understand their validity as well as to everyday situations
  • Discuss how gravity is related to the formation, interaction, and evolution of the solar system, stars, galaxies, and the universe
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of current accepted theories for the origin of the universe
  • Use the scientific method in collecting data, formulating and testing a hypothesis then reaching a conclusion
  • Read, analyze, and interpret data to draw valid scientific conclusions and communicate those conclusions in a clear and articulate manner

Popular Career Paths

Astrophysics: Involves the study of the physics of the universe. Whether it is applied to gravitational fields, high-energy particles, or celestial objects like stars and galaxies, astrophysics overlaps significantly with astronomy and can involve many foundational physics concepts like thermodynamics, electromagnetism, or quantum mechanics.

Radar and Radio Astronomy: Focuses on using sophisticated technology to explore the universe using radar and radio waves. Radio astronomers are able to uncover and research things (like chemical reactions or radiation in space) that would be undetectable with optical telescopes that rely on light.

Planetary Science: Centers on the study of the planetary systems. This field can involve specializations in many disciplines including planetary geology, astrobiology, atmospheric science, and others.

Cosmosology: Focuses on the big questions surrounding the universe such as how did it begin? How is it evolving? What is our place in it?

Instrument Design: Involves one of the few subsets of astronomy that is industry-related. Focus is on the combination of astronomy with technical knowledge and engineering skills.


Explore More Career Paths


Jobs to Consider

Astronomer

Astrophysicist

Celestial Mechanic

Conceptual Astronomer

Cosmologist

Infrared Astronomer

Instrumental Designer

Optical Astronomer

Professor

Planetary Scientist

Radar and Radio Astronomer

 


Places to Seek Employment

Government Agencies

Laboratories

Mauna Kea Observatories

Universities

Observatories

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Planetariums

The United States Department of Defense

Science Magazines

Museums

Private Sector Industries: Aerospace and Satellite Communications

 

 

View specific employers by state.


Employment Strategies

  1. Begin building a strong academic background in physics and mathematics. Enroll in classes in these specializations so you can focus your academics towards a degree in astronomy.
  2. Become familiar with the required professional qualifications associated with careers that interest you (i.e. advanced degrees).
  3. Gain direct experience within the areas that interest you most through research projects, independent study, internships, part-time jobs, student organization involvement, or volunteering.
  4. Register for KU Career Connections and subscribe to the Internship Newsletter to receive automated weekly emails with specific internship information.
  5. Consider joining a professional organization related to astronomy, such as the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, and, if possible, attend local and/or regional conferences to make connections with professionals working in your field of interest.
  6. Practice interviewing on your own or by conducting a mock interview at the University Career Center. List of practice questions: general interview (pdf).
  7. Develop your resume and tailor it to your area(s) of interest: sample resume (pdf).
  8. Complete an independent study to gain advanced research skills.
  9. Maintain a strong GPA if you are considering pursuing graduate or professional education.
  10. Consider getting involved with a student organization at KU related to your area of interest, such as: Astronomy Associates of Lawrence, American Astronomical Society, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Job and Internship Search Resources

The quick link for this page is career.ku.edu/astronomy.

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