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What is the best way to get involved in Astronomy at a young age?

That is the career I would like to go into, so knowing what I can do to be prepared would be very helpful. astronomy science

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Ryan’s Answer

The best way to get envolved with astronomy at a young age is to go to planetariums, study math and physics, study about gravity and exoplanets and study computer coding (python, C & IDL especially, since they are used a lot), familiarize yourself with the Linux operating system. Use terminal (dos prompt) a lot and get used to how it works.

A lot of astronomy is done on computers using command line interfaces because there is a lot of data to sift through and programming languages like python can handle large data faster than using a graphical user interface (GUI).

I received my bachelors in astronomy and I was not prepared for how much math and physics was going to be involved. I had familiarized myself with computers a great deal when I was younger and wish I had spent more time doing math and physics. I hadn’t planned on going into astronomy when I was younger, although it was always a topic of fascination to me.

It’s a tough balance to learn math, physics and programming equally well, but it would greatly benefit you to learn those things. There are a lot of places you can go to do star gazing, but real astronomy is knowing how stars work, how solar systems and galaxies are created, how planets stay in orbit and sifting through mounds of data collected by telescopes and obtaining using that data to draw scientific conclusions.


One site you may want to read is: http://www.astronomynotes.com/careers.htm

It gives more excellent advice for steps you should take and what astronomers do.


It is a hard road, but it is worth it. Good luck, may the stars guide you.

Ryan recommends the following next steps:

Study math
Study Physics
Lean C, Python &IDL programming
Study Statistics
Study the stars

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Christopher’s Answer

Hey there! Not sure how old you are so I'll start from the beginning:

In elementary and middle school: read age-appropriate books on math, physics, and of course--space! Google "space/physics/math books for [your grade]" and nice stuff should come up.

I don't think elementary or middle school are all that important in the career path. If by high school you are feeling pretty serious about it, then I would suggest 2 things: make sure you're advanced in math (it's ok if not but it gives you a slight leg up in college) and try to go to a magnet/specialized high school for science. These will just help you get exposed to what you'll need to be exposed to.

BULK OF ADVICE:
In college, you *must* get over your fear of talking to your professors early. Go to your professor's office hours weekly. Get involved in the astronomy clubs. Network as much as possible. These aspects are equally important to the technical aspects. Trust me! People need to know you, like you, and like your work in order to succeed.

Technical aspects:
UC Santa Cruz has an *excellent* astrophysics curriculum. You *must* do a bachelor's in physics--pure astronomy bachelor degrees don't provide enough physics for grad school. At UCSC, the astrophysics degree is a physics degree with astronomy electives. Perfect.

Take 3-5 Python programming classes. This is super, super important. Pure programming so that you can have the practice.
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Trudi’s Answer

In elementary school focus on Math and Science even if it feels boring at times. Trust me, you will use it a lot later on in your astronomy career. Take some coding classes and take Physics in high school. Knowledge is power. Make use of your local library. Read and read and read and then read some more about anything astronomical or scientific that you find interesting. For example, the scientific field of astrobiology is relatively new but involves a lot of astronomy and biology. Make sure your teachers know how much you love astronomy because they can recommend even more books and other ways to learn about it. There are plenty of free apps that provide astronomy information. If you live in an area with less light pollution (light from all the street lights, houses, buildings etc), learn where the constellations are in your piece of the sky. Pay attention to current astronomy events e.g solar eclipses, blood moods (when the Moons orbit is closest to Earth making it look bigger and brighter than normal) and cool planetary transits (the passage of a relatively small body across a larger body e.g. Mercury and Venus periodically transit the sun). Read NASA's webpages. Ask your school if they can hold science fun nights. They are amazing and often written specifically for children. Look for free public astronomy activities. Contact your local university to see when they are holding free telescope nights or public information sessions.

Trudi recommends the following next steps:

Focus on Math and Science
Take Physics in high school
Visit your local library and read anything scientific that you are interested in
Read NASA's webpages
Contact your local university to see when they are holding free telescope nights
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Quin’s Answer

Hello Sage! I’m an amateur astronomer, so I know a little about it. First things first, find a way to get a telescope, preferably one you can personally own. The bigger it is, the better for the most part, but keep a budget in mind. My telescope was $300 new, and is relatively inexpensive compared to others. Once you have access to one, learn how to use a star chart in order to recognize constellations and other celestial bodies. You can also look for local observatories. They usually have showings and lessons open to the public, some might even be free. Work at an observatory if you can as a lot of astronomers visit. Take astronomy classes when you can, listen to astronomy lectures, and read books on what interests you.

If you’re looking to make a career out of astronomy, the best way to start is to learn physics and calculus. Professional astronomy is a lot of numbers and advanced mathematics. It would also be helpful to know chemistry, computer science, and potentially some engineering for this career.

Quin recommends the following next steps:

Get access to a telescope
Learn to use a star chart
Visit local observatories
Take astronomy classes
Learn physics and calculus
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Kimberly’s Answer

Hello, I am an amateur Astronomer. I get asked that when I teach Students on Space. My best advice is to start investing in a telescope looking at the sky and is just involve yourself in Math, Physics, and Science because astronomy involves those subjects. Also, involve yourself in volunteering in planetariums, science museums, etc. take advantage of the services they offer. Even your school create a club or join an astronomy club. As you work your way up educate yourself going to college in Astronomy getting your degree and masters to go into the field. I would suggest going even higher to get Ph.D. I always push my students to go higher. Also, the most important thing is having the curiosity to learn more. Having that passion and hunger to learn more every day. Grab a mentor who already works in that field as an astronomer to guide your steps making sure you on the right path to becoming an astronomer plus it serves as a letter of recommendation if you need one day.

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

Have the Passion and curiosity. invest in a telescope
Join clubs , or create clubs in your school . (Must love math, science and physics)
research and join volunteer work in science museums or planetariums, etc.. build a background.
Go to college get a degree and moving up to masters . Even push for a Ph.D
grab a Mentor to help guide your steps ( you will need a mentor to write a letter of recommendation.)
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Mohamed Mehdi’s Answer

Enroll in these courses on coursera and put your certificates on your linkedin account https://www.coursera.org/browse/physical-science-and-engineering/physics-and-astronomy
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