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A-Z of a Career in Astronomy

Career in Astronomy

Astronomy is a branch of science dealing with the endless study of the universe and the celestial bodies. The field has abundant career opportunities for individuals with knowledge and passion in the subject. This blog talks about how you can pursue a career in astronomy, what are the opportunities available and much more.

India has produced great scientists in physics and astronomy who have contributed in abundance to the space science. The era began ages back with Arybhatta’s Arya- Siddhanta and since then there has been no stopping of development in this field. C.V. Raman, Ashok Sen, Sisir Kumar Mitra, KalpanaChawlaand T.A. Tulsi are some of the top names that have made the country proud. If these personalities are your inspirations then you too can be a name amongst them. Hence a career in astronomy is a gateway to a new world of wisdom and science.

Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with celestial bodies. It is a completely scientific observational study with advanced mathematical skills. The subject might sound tough, but interests and discoveries tend to dominate the field. If you have particular interests in the study of motions & the laws behind it, in the physical constitution & nature of the heavenly bodies, in their radiations& patterns, let us remind you that there is still so much to be discovered in this field. So better direct your interests in making a successful career in Astronomy.

It has been regarded as one of the most interesting branches of science and implements the use of advanced technological tools such as telescopes, spectroscopic instruments, etc. It requires a combination of observational traits and theoretical implementations to derive astronomical inferences. Astronomy as a career unravels mysteries of the physical world and has limitless scope. Don’t only look up to the stars instead study them through Astronomy and make a shining career in this field.


Astronomy is a completely technical subject and students having a good command of mathematics and physics must undertake it as a career. It is more of an observational rather than an experimental area of study and a clear understanding of the concepts is essentially needed.

A student with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics as their streams in school are eligible to pursue a career in astronomy. B.Sc. in physics or an engineer with B.E./B.Tech with aptitude in the subject can enroll in master’s programs. Post-graduation programs include M.Sc. in Astronomy & Astrophysics. It can be followed up by a doctoral program that at least takes four years to complete. Integrated Ph.D. Program (I.Ph.D.) is also possible in this field wherein your master’s course merges into the doctoral program.

For admission in the doctoral program, the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) is conducted in February every year at an all India level. The annual tuition fees in colleges in India range from 30,000 to 75,000 INR for graduation and for higher studies they go as high as 200,000 INR. For students aspiring to study abroad, the annual tuition fees begin from 500,000 INR. Scholarships are also available for meritorious students.

Career Path

Top Indian Institutes

IIT-BGraduation, Post-graduationBombay
 The Indian Institute of AstrophysicsDoctoral, Post-Doctoral FellowshipKodaikanal, Bangalore 
The Department of Physics & Astrophysics, DU Graduation, Post-graduationDelhi
Presidency CollegeGraduation, Post-graduationKolkata
Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP)Graduation, Post-graduationDelhi University,Delhi 
Cochin University Of Science And TechnologyGraduation, Post-graduationKochi 
 Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi Graduation, Post-graduationDelhi 
Banaras Hindu University,Graduation,Post-graduation,DoctoralVaranasi

Indian Universities for Doctorate in Astronomy

Indian Institute of Science (IISc)  Doctorate,Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP)Bangalore
C V Raman institute  Doctoral, Post-Doctoral FellowshipBangalore 
The Indian Institute of AstrophysicsDoctoral, Post-Doctoral FellowshipBangalore 
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) PhD Programme Pune 
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Doctorate in Theoretical and observational astrophysics Mumbai 

International Institutes

InstituteCoursesCity, CountryWebsite
Harvard UniversityGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralCambridge, Massachusetts, US
Harvard UniversityGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralCambridge, Massachusetts, US
Oxford University Graduation, Post-graduation, Doctoral, DiplomaOxford, UK 
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralMassachusetts, US
Princeton UniversityGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralPrinceton, US
Stanford UniversityGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralStanford, US 
California Institute of TechnologyGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralCalifornia,U.S. 
Imperial College LondonGraduation, Post-graduation, DoctoralLondon, UK 

Job Opportunities

I find that astronomy is a fascinating subject to work in because we deal with so many different and exotic objects, yet the field is still small enough that it’s possible to have some idea of the big picture. It’s also very rewarding because the general public is often very interested in our subject. When you tell someone you’re an astronomer, the response is usually, ‘How interesting!’ followed by a flood of questions.”

— Christine Wilson, McMaster University. Primary research interest: Radio and sub-millimeter astronomy.

Astronomy is an extremely interesting area of study and offers a great range of opportunities for people with good aptitude in the subject. Skills are definitely needed and patience along with knowledge is essentially required. The universe is limitless and hence endlessly wide is the scope of career in Astronomy. Advancements and technological growth have changed the face of this field. It has facilitated growth and aided in experiments and studies. However, it is important to note that despite abundant opportunities, only highly qualified and perfectionist people are able to shine in this field. Individuals can work at several research positions in leading governmental and private centers. Some of them are

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO)
  • National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi
  • Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai
  • State Observatory (SO), Nainital
  • Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences (ARIES),
  • Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore

Salary Structure

Doctoral and post-doctoral research positions are also available at several planetariums and stipend for research start at 15,000 INR per month. The extraordinary career path can provide opportunities as space-explorers and astrophysicists. People not interested in research can work as lectures at different universities and are paid from 35,000 INR to 120,000 INR monthly. Qualified individuals are also hired in companies that build, design and operate instruments such as telescopes. Experience and knowledge both count in this sector.

At the international level, opportunities are available in agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Scientists in such international organizations are paid as high as beginning from 20 lacs INR per anum.


Gear yourself up and rise high in a literal sense. Astronomy is a career that literally and practically means reaching to the stars. Unfold the mysteries of the universe and let the world know about the hidden knowledge. Undoubtedly career in astronomy can outshine you in every possible way.

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