Careers in astronomy
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Careers in Astronomy. A Future in Astronomy. So you want to be an astronomer, but what do you need to do now to get there? Get involved in research and attend research group meetings Study for and plan on taking the Physics GRE – multiple times! Take all of the Physics classes you can at BYU!

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Careers in astronomy

Careers in Astronomy


A future in astronomy

A Future in Astronomy

  • So you want to be an astronomer, but what do you need to do now to get there?

    • Get involved in research and attend research group meetings

    • Study for and plan on taking the Physics GRE – multiple times!

    • Take all of the Physics classes you can at BYU!

    • Apply for summer research internships

  • Why do this? Because without at least a MS or PhD you won’t get a job in Astronomy!

    • There are other jobs, similar to what you would get with a BS in Physics, but they won’t be doing astronomy research


Where do astronomers that get careers in astronomy end up

Where do astronomers that get careers in astronomy end up?

  • Professors at Universities

    • Teach and do research

  • Research Scientists

    • Just do research

    • Observatories, Telescope Operators

    • NASA Labs, Universities

  • Build telescopes and instruments

    • Computer Programming

    • Engineering, Optics

  • Go into Education and Public outreach


What is my typical day like

What is my typical day like?

  • Teach astronomy classes from introductory level all the way up to the graduate level

    • Teach, write tests, prepare lectures, work with students

  • Use space and ground-based telescopes to do astronomy

    • Study brown dwarfs, kuiper belt objects, exoplanets, moons of Pluto

  • Write papers about my research results

  • Write proposals to get more telescope observations

  • Write grants to request funding to support research and pay students

  • Advise and supervise colleagues and my students


Things to think about this year

Things to think about this year

A career in astronomy requires at least a masters, but really a PhD to have the best chance

Plan on graduate school now

Start thinking about when you will take the general and physics GRE

Take both exams even if not planning on graduate school

Learn about summer internships you can apply for and start applying

Usually due around Jan-Feb

Talk to Taran Esplin or Derek Felli about their internships

Get started with a research group now

Opens the possibility of applying for money this summer to do research

Start working on your senior thesis

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Astronomy research at byu

Astronomy research at BYU

  • Dr. Eric Hintz – Variable star research, Delta-Scuti stars, X-ray binaries

  • Professor Mike Joner – Highly Accurate Photometry, West Mountain Observatory

  • Dr. Victor Migenes – Radio Astronomy of Masers around cool, evolved stars, star formation, Galaxy mergers

  • Dr. J. Ward Moody – AGN monitoring, ROVOR telescope, Voids

  • Dr. Denise Stephens – Brown Dwarfs, Binary TNOs, Exoplanets, Pluto’s Moons


Astronomy faculty

Astronomy Faculty


Astronomy major or minor

Astronomy major or minor

Join astronomy research e-mail list

http://lists.physics.byu.edu/mailman/listinfo/astronomy

Attend astronomy research group meeting

Thursday at 11 am in N-485 (astronomy library)

Start getting ideas for what you want to do for your senior thesis

Start talking to Professors about their work

Get involved with research now

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Astronomy classes you can take at byu

Astronomy classes you can take at BYU

  • Physics 127 – Introductory Astronomy – Descriptive, non-math based (required for major)

  • Physics 227,228 – Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics – calculus based (required for major)

  • Physics 313R (sec 2) – Learn to use telescopes and planetarium (not required)

  • Physics 329 – Observational Astronomy (required for major)

  • Physics 427,428 – More advanced astrophysics (required for major)

  • Geology 109 – Planetary Geology (not required)

  • Physics 137 – Introduction to Atmosphere and Weather (not required)


Astronomy classes you need to take for the minor

Astronomy classes you need to take for the minor

  • Physics 127 – Introductory Astronomy – Descriptive, non-math based (required for minor)

  • Physics 227,228 – Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics – calculus based (required for minor)

  • Physics 313R (sec 2) – Learn to use telescopes and planetarium (not required)

  • Physics 329 – Observational Astronomy (required for minor)

  • Physics 427,428 – More advanced astrophysics (required for major)

  • Geology 109 – Planetary Geology (not required)

  • Physics 137 – Introduction to Atmosphere and Weather (not required)


When do you take these classes

When do you take these classes

Take 127 as soon as you can to get a good background in Astronomy and decide if this is a major you really want to pursue

Take 227 and 228 the Fall and Winter semester as soon as you have finished Physics 121 and Math 112

Consider taking 329 in the winter concurrent with 228

Telescope/research class – prepare you to join a research group

Interested in planetarium or using telescopes?

Take 313R any winter semester

Future requirement for Astronomy TAs

Take 427 & 428 Fall and Winter your junior or senior year

Also consider taking Physics 529 Fall of senior year

Interested in planetary geology?

Take geology 109 in the Winter (Radebaugh and Christiansen)

Consider doing senior thesis with Dr. Radebaugh

Special interest like astrobiology or interstellar chemistry?

Start talking to advisors now to determine what chem or bio classes you may want to take

or vice versa what physics class for non-majors

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Other course you should take

Other Course You Should Take

  • Learn to Love English and take classes on writing and public speaking!

    • I’m not kidding! - We write!

    • If you can’t tell others about your discoveries, then no one will ever know what you’ve done!

  • Take Hard Science, Math, and Computer Programming classes, as many as you can that relate to your interests!

    • Geology – became a planetary scientist

    • Biology – become an astrobiologist

    • Chemistry – study atmospheres around planets and star, and the gas and dust between stars

    • Physics – applies to everything in astronomy

    • Computational Programming – Real languages, C++ and Fortran

      • Electrical Engineering has a course


Remember that astronomy is really applied physics

Remember that Astronomy is really applied Physics

If you want to be an astronomer, take all the physics that you can and work as a TA in the physics labs to prepare yourself for taking the Physics GRE!

This means that even though BYU only requires you to take two of the following four physics courses to graduate with your Astronomy degree, you should really plan on taking all four if you want to go to graduate school and do research in Astronomy!

(Physics 360, 442, 452, 471)


Astronomy club

Astronomy Club

Don’t need to be an Astronomy major, just have a love for astronomy and enjoy it as a hobby

Benefits of Joining the club

Monthly public star parties

Fun activities

Training to use planetarium and deck telescopes – astronomy TA

Leadership looks good on grad school application or CV

http://lists.physics.byu.edu/mailman/listinfo/astroclub

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