Astronomy, the oldest and the most fascinating science, deals with all the celestial bodies and the material universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. It is the science of the Universe which includes the study of motion, nature, law, constitution, history and possible future developments of heavenly bodies like the sun, planets, stars, comets, meteors, galaxies, satellites etc. Astronomy, sometimes considered as a sub-field of Physics is further divided into several branches such as Astrophysics, Astrometeorology, Astrobiology, Astrogeology, Astrometry, Cosmology etc. All these branches together helps to unravel the mysteries of the universe. It is a promising and amazing career for those who are interested in the mysteries of the universe and has a desire to unravel them. Since each country is going in for nuclear testing, the need for scientists in the filed of Astronomy is increasing.
In the professional level, astronomy is divided into observational astronomy and theoretical astrophysics. While the former deal with observing celestial bodies by using telescopes, binoculars, cameras, unaided eyes etc and collecting data for building and maintaining instruments; the latter is concerned with data analysis - finding out the conclusions of observations of computers and explaining the observational results. Theoretical astrophysics is more analytical and astrophysicists model data.
For entering into this field, one should be good at general physics. Astronomy is a vast field which varies from the instrument building teams to the theoretical branches where mathematical ability and physical intuition is essential. Apart from good programming skills, curiosity and ability to search out answers are also essential in this field. One's career in this field depends on what aspect of astronomy they are interested to work in. If interested in doing instrumentation or experimental astronomy, one can opt for the engineering stream. Instrumental astronomy specialises in the design and construction of astronomical instrumentation at different wavelengths, for ground and space-based observatories. Experimental Astronomy acts as a medium for the publication of papers on the instrumentation and data handling necessary for the conduct of astronomy at all wavelength fields. Those who have chosen science stream can do theoretical astronomy or observation.
A doctoral degree is the usual educational requirement to become an astronomer, since most of the work tends to be related to research and development. Those who opt for this field, should pass their plus two examination under the science stream, specially in physics and math's. For pursuing a career in theoretical or observational astronomy one may go through the science stream after plus two. Since universities offering undergraduate programme in Astronomy are rarely found, one can join for a major/ honours in Physics with Mathematics as a subsidiary subject. Thereafter, take a master's degree in Physics or Astronomy. After the successful completion of MSc, one can do specialization in astronomy leading to Ph. D. which enables one to become an astronomer/ astronaut/ astrophysicist or a scientist/ research officer etc. in the field of space research. For doing Ph.D, which is mandatory to do research, one should appear for the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) examination.
For pursuing a career in Instrumentation/ Experimental Astronomy, after plus two one can go for Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical / Electronics/ Electrical Communications. An engineer with a B. Tech or BE degree could also enter the field as a research scholar.
Personal skills : The essential quality to become an astronomer is curiosity, enthusiasm and greater concentration. They should have above average intelligence, high imagination, persistence, problem-solving and analytical skills and must possess both mathematical and computer skills. Loads of patience is required in this field as the astronomers has to work long for irregular hours. Excellent oral and written communication skills are also important because most astronomers are expected to work as part of a team. They must be capable of explaining scientific phenomena and conveying the information in an easily absorbed format and language. Rather, astronomers must apply equal measures of analytic thinking and imagination, logic and intuition, to answer the most fundamental questions about the cosmos.