Astronomers conduct research to understand the nature of the universe and everything in it.


Sample of Reported Job Titles

Professor, Astronomer, Astronomy Professor, Research Scientist, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy Professor, Scientist, Assistant Professor, Astrophysicist, Lunar and Planetary Institute Director



Astronomers observe, measure, interpret, and develop theories to explain celestial and physical phenomena, using mathematics. From the vastness of space to the infinitesimal scale of subatomic particles, they study the fundamental properties of the natural world and apply the knowledge gained to design new technologies.

Almost all astronomers do research. Some are theoreticians, working on the laws governing the structure and evolution of astronomical objects. Others analyze large quantities of data gathered by observatories and satellites and write scientific papers or reports on their findings. Some astronomers actually operate large space-based or ground-based telescopes, usually as part of a team. However, astronomers may spend only a few weeks each year making observations with optical telescopes, radio telescopes, and other instruments.


Educational Requirements

Because most jobs are in basic research and development, a doctoral degree is the usual educational requirement for astronomers. Master's degree holders qualify for some jobs in applied research and development, whereas bachelor's degree holders often qualify as research assistants or for other occupations related to astronomers. A student with a bachelor’s degree could work in planetariums running science shows, assist astronomers doing research, and operate space-based and ground-based telescopes and other astronomical instrumentation.


Median Salary 2012


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Science Buddies-Astronomer


Bureau of Labor Statistics-Physicists & Astronomers


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