The great philosopher Plato said, "Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another." From the beginning of time, man has looked at the celestial bodies above with wonder and amazement and used astronomy, one of the world's oldest natural sciences, to mark the seasons, explain the unknown, and keep track of time. Most importantly, astronomy helped man to learn about the world beyond his horizon. Astronomy majors study the origins and evolution of the universe's celestial objects, such as stars, planets, galaxies, supernovas, and black holes.
The foundation for a career in astronomy begins at the secondary level. High school students need to have a solid foundation in math up to the pre-calculus level, physics, and chemistry before they enter college. In addition, membership in high school science groups, state junior academies of science, and local amateur astronomy clubs is strongly recommended.
Most astronomy careers require a doctorate degree. Undergraduate students who wish to pursue a doctoral degree need to have a fairly strong background in physics and mathematics. Typical astronomy courses include electricity and magnetism, geology, chemistry, thermodynamics, quantum theory, and atomic and nuclear physics. Students also work to develop strong writing and communication skills and good computer science skills.
Students pursuing a doctoral degree specialize in specific areas, such as planetary astronomy, stellar astronomy, solar astronomy, galactic astronomy, cosmology, and extragalactic astronomy. Upon graduation, these students enter a post-doctoral research position where they work for two to three years under the supervision of a more experienced scientist.
Individuals who hold bachelor's or master's degrees in astronomy can work as technicians or research assistants in a related field. Other students become middle or high school science teachers. Regardless of the educational path you choose, the astronomy field is an interesting and challenging profession.