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What is an average week's workload in the field of Astronomy?

I am currently a sophomore exploring different career paths. #astronomy #career-path

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Joseph’s Answer

There's a few different kinds of role within Astronomy, and the workload very much depends on your path into the field.

The most obvious route is perhaps as an academic astrophysics researcher; generally taking the route of an astro-biased physics degree, then PhD, postdoctoral research positions and heading toward an academic faculty position. The workload varies, but you'd expect a lot of desk-based data analysis, a bit of theoretical work developing new ideas, and some academic responsibilities, helping out with workshops and seminars. Occasionally (the frequency depends on exactly what you're doing, but imagine a couple of times a year for example) you'll get observation time at a big facility (telescopes etc), and that might involve a bit trip away, working long nights to set everything up and gather all the observations and data you need. You might find many weeks are a fairly light and routine 9-5 workload doing the data analysis and academic bits , but I'd imagine it gets heavier and perhaps even hectic at certain times, such as building up to major grant proposals; and when you get time at a observing facility. For further information, I'd recommend looking up "Dr Becky" on YouTube; she's an astrophysicist at Oxford University in the UK, and shows what an astrophysicist gets up to - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW_qIqLhPkI

Alternatively, for something a bit more practical, there are the technicians that operate the observing facilities and help the scientists set up and gather data. I'm not certain of the career path into those roles, they're relatively few and far between. Academic knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics will be helpful, but it will also require more technical engineering and troubleshooting of the optics and sensors. There, expect the workload to be regular long night shifts supporting the scientists.

Another route might be science communication. There are lots of planetariums, museums and public-access observatories where people with astronomical knowledge are needed to communicate the wonders of science and space to the visiting public. In that sort of role, the workload is more hands-on and people-facing; giving tours, demonstrations and talks.
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Anthony’s Answer

Hey Ben,

Here is a report from the Onet website on Astronomers. Check out the profile at https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-2011.00.

Here is a video outlining a day in the life of Astronomers - https://www.owlguru.com/day-in-life-of-astronomers/

Keep in mind that your interest is going to change as you get closer to graduation. Be open to new possibilities.

Have you taken a career assessment before? Check out the interest profile inventory at https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip.
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