Career In Astronomy in INDIA

05/05/2014 23:37

Career In Astronomy in INDIA


1) How to become an Astronomer ? (Career in A & A)    By: Prof. T. Padmanabhan    
2) Career in Astronomy... By: IIAP, Bangalore  
3) Career in Astronomy... By: IAU   



How to become an Astronomer ?
(Career in A & A)

By: Prof. T. Padmanabhan

Source :

How and where can I start career in A & A?

Careers in Astronomy & Astrophysics (A&A) can be broadly divided as Theoretical or Observational though, in order to make significant contribution to the subject you have to be good at both.

Theoretical research career in A & A typically involves doing a Masters in physics, or Bachelors in Engineering or Technology with thorough basic knowlegege in physics and mathematics, joining a suitable institution or university for a Ph.D. programme in A & A, following it up with one or two postdoctoral positions and - finally - obtaining a permanent job.

Among the leading institutes in this country

have graduate students programmes in A & A leading to a Ph.D.

Institutions like

are actively expanding into this area and will certainly encourage theoretical research in A & A.

There are also several universities, which have faculty members working on A & A, not to mention the Indian of Institute(s) of Technology.

On the observational side, the scope is somewhat wider because even students with engineering degree (or knowledge of computer systems and electronics) are also encouraged to apply for the graduate student's programme in many of the above places. For example, IUCAA takes B.E. and B.Tech students for its graduate school and allows them to do an M.Sc. by research prior to doing a Ph.D.

The scope for experimental astronomy in this country is somewhat limited compared to theory, but this situation is likely to change within the next 5 years or so.

The key point to remember is that A & A is a branch of physics and you need to have a strong foundation in physics and mathematics in order to have a successful career in A & A.


What about books and syllabus of A & A?

There is no single book or syllabus in A & A which a student is expected to read and follow.

In fact, most institutions will examine you on your physics and mathematics background and will admit you to the graduate school even if you know nothing of A & A.This is necessary because our M.Sc. courses in physics do not give adequate emphasis to A & A compared to, for example, solid state physics or nuclear physics.

This situation may change over the next decade or so but at present, it is enough if you concentrate on the regular M.Sc. physics syllabus.


What should I study to prepare for the examinations?

The graduate school programme in most of the leading institutions expects you to be good at physics and mathematics with an aptitude and motivation to do research.

The latter is difficult to define but essentially it involves an ability to apply your basic knowledge to unfamiliar areas and come out with logically consistent conclusions. In short, you should be able to think on your own and should be confident in using the basic principles of physics and the techniques of mathematics which you have learnt in any area.

In the best institutes, the examination is designed in such a way that no specific preparation is necessary or even useful. The idea is not to run a memory test or investigate your knowledge base but to see how good you are in using the knowledge which you posses.

Of course this is the ideal situation. If the examination is not up to the mark, you may be straddled with questions which require memorizing of some key formulas, etc. The general technique of preparation can be similar to that you will adopt for JEE or GRE or for any other multiple choice objective type test.


Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST)
For Ph.D. Programmes in Physics / Mathematics / Theoretical Computer Science

Source of above Information:





Career In Astronomy :

By IIAP Bangalore



(For Students & Young Scientists)

Astronomy is the science which deals with the study of heavenly bodies. It considers
(a) their motions, both real and apparent, and the laws which govern those motions;
(b) their forms, dimensions, masses, and surface features;
(c) their nature, constitution, and physical condition;
(d) the effects which they produce upon one another by their attractions and radiations;
(e) their probable past history and future development.

Astronomy is necessarily an observational science rather than an experimental one. The discussions and interpretation of observations employs the use of mathematical analysis, often of the most advanced type. Celestial bodies and celestial environment provide natural laboratories for studying physical phenomena in extreme conditions which are seldom realised in our terrestrial environment.Physical and mathematical theories are thus stretched to the limit to provide explanations for the celestial phenomena that we observe.

Modern astronomy requires the use of most modern and advanced technologies, e.g. in fabrication of modern telescopes, in buildingimaging and spectrscopic equipment to observe and analyse radiation received from the celestial objects. It needs fast computers, state-of-the-art software to handle data and process images, it needs stable space platforms to observe radiation otherwise blocked by the Earth's atmosphere.

Existing Facilities

Observing facilities available in Astronomy & Astrophysics are :




  • Optical and Infra-red Astronomy
  • Solar Facilities
  • Radio Astronomy
Job Opportunities & Career Prospects

An acute need for young scientists in the field of Astronomy is present. The following possibilities are open for a career for a physics / mathematics / engineering graduate with a specialization or a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Several research institutes and government organizations employ research scientists in various academic grades for research oriented programmes.

There will be more openings in the universities, especially in physics departments, for specialists in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Experience with sophisticated astronomical instrumentation and the expertise gained in computer programming and handling data can serve as valubale assets for jobs in industry.

  • Research Scientist
  • University Faculty
  • Industry
Requirements for a Career in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astronomy & Astrophysics may be taught as a special course in the M.Sc. programmes of the physics departments in the universities or colleges. It is desirable for a student to acquire proficiency in physics and mathematics at the graduate level and then to Astronomy & Astrophysics specialization. An engineer with a B.Tech or B.E. degree, with an aptitude for Astronomy and Astrophysics, can also enter the field as a research scholar.

Though it is not necessary to undergo any formal training in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the undergraduate level, it helps the student to develop a general interest in the field, from reading good popular books or as an amateur astronomer. Research Scholars are expected to undergo one year course work in various subjects including Foundations of Classical & Quantum Physics, Mathematical Techniques, Numerical Analysis & Computing, besides introductory courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics. A good Ph.D. programme takes about four years to complete.

Teaching & Research Programmes

Opportunities for Astronomy & Astrophysics study are available in the universities and autonomous research institutions.

Punjabi University, Patiala, Osmania University - Full M.Sc. Course in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Allahabad, Bangalore, Burdwan, Kolkata, Delhi, Gauhati, Gorakhpur, Gujarat, Indian Institute of Science, Jadavpur, Kashmir, Kumaon, Lucknow, Madurai Kamaraj University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Pune, Punjab, Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University, Roorkee, Swami Ramanand Teerth University, Nanded.

IIA has a full-time Ph.D. programme for which the students are selected through an entrance exam, followed by an interview. The exam is conducted in November every year and the is advertised around September. Students are also selected through Joint Entrance Screening Test, conducted annually in the month of February, followed by an interview. The advertisement appears in all leading newspapers. Posters are sent to various institutions, universities and colleges all over India. Highly motivated candidates with a M.Sc. degree in Physics / Maths or M.Tech. in Engineering & exceptional candidates with B.E. /B.Tech. degree and a good background in physics are eligible to apply for admission to the Ph.D. programme.

IUCAA has a regular Ph.D. programme for which applications are invited every spring from students who either possess an M.Sc. in Physics / Applied Mathematics / Astronomy / Computer Science or a Bachelor's or Master's degree in engineering or technology with adequate background in physics and mathematics or are expected to qualify for these degrees. Selection is made in July through a written test and an interview. Selected candidate is required to clear the CSIR / UGC-NET / GATE exam within one year of admission to the Ph.D. if he/she has not done so already.

Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) is conducted at an all India level every year in the month of February for admission to Ph.D. programme. The advertisement appears in all the leading newspapers and posters are sent to various institutions, colleges, universities all over India inviting applications. The institutions participating in this programme are : Harish- Chandra Research Institute (Formerly Mehta Research Institute of Mathematics & Mathematical Physics); Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore; Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubhaneswar; Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar; Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune; Inter-University Consortium for DAE Facilities (IUC-DAEF), Indore; Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore; National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore; National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Pune; Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad; Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore; S N Bose Centre for Basic Natural Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata; The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc.), Chennai. The pattern for JEST exam consists of multiple choice objective-type questions, with negetive marks for wrong answers. Candidates who are successful in the entrance exam are called for an interview and depending upon their performance, are selected as Junior Research Fellows for Ph.D. programme.

This course is of one year duration, conducted at Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore, jointly by IISc., IIA, RRI, TIFR. M.Sc., B.E., & B.Tech. degree holders are invited to apply in the spring of the year for selection in July through an interview. After the completion of the course, candidates are offered the opportunity for completing their Ph.D. at one of the participating institute.

These offer a Ph.D. programme after a selection through interviews, usually in July every year. Advertisements appear in spring. The institutions are : RRI, NCRA, TIFR, PRL, UPSO, ISRO.






Careers in Astronomy




What is an astronomer?
When you look up into the sky at night you see the stars as pretty twinkling lights. An astronomer admires the beauty of the stars and other celestial objects and wants to learn what they are and how they work. An astronomer is a scientist who tries to understand and interpret the Universe beyond Earth and the Earth within the Universe. Using observational tools like space and ground-based observatories, computers  and the good old paper and pencil, astronomers attempt to build up a picture, not only of what the Universe is like today, but what it was like billions of years ago, right back to the “Big Bang”. To do this Astronomers have to understand the behaviour of matter in conditions that simply do not exist on Earth, whether at extreme temperatures or involving exotic objects and particles. They must use whatever kind of light, from radio to gamma rays, and particles (from cosmic rays to neutrinos) make it to Earth, along with sophisticated computers to piece together what happens beyond our planet. Observational astronomers might look for new planets, try to understand stars, galaxies, black holes, and other phenomena, or try to map the entire sky. More theoretical researchers might measure magnetic fields or simulate the structural build-up of the stars, figure out how galaxies formed and how the expansion of the Universe evolved. To summarise, they build models of the Universe from fundamental physics and endeavour to make it understandable.

What does it take to be an astronomer?

Astronomy is a great challenge. That’s why curiosity and a motivation to know and understand more and more are so important for prospective astronomers. They try to answer such questions as: How did the stars and planets form? Why does the night sky look the way it does? How did the Universe get here and when will it end? Once they ask those questions, astronomers have to combine rigorous logic with leaps of intuition to try and answer them. A good background in maths, physics, chemistry and computer science is required to be a modern astronomer — this means a scientific high school curriculum followed by earning a physics or maths or engineering university degree and a PhD in astronomy or astrophysics. 


What’s the career path of an astronomer?

After getting a PhD, astronomers usually spend three to six years in one or more postdoctoral positions in universities or research institutions. Afterwards, astronomers look for steady positions as researchers or group leaders either in a university department, national facility, or government research centre. Eventually astronomers are granted university tenure, a permanent position where they generally work for the rest of their career.  Astronomy is a small field, but very popular. Only those with a strong education, ability and a deep passion for the subject are likely to find a permanent position. However, training as an astronomer can open doors in many related fields including other research areas, industrial research, commercial or industrial enterprises, education, public relations and outreach.


Things to keep in mind when preparing for astronomy career

Make sure your communication skills are excellent. You will be expected to write numerous scholarly articles during your academic career. You might also need to write grant proposals and proposals for observing time to the different observatories. And remember that, as with most scientific disciplines nowadays, astronomy requires involvement in international collaborations, so good English communication skills are essential. Remember that many astronomers also work as university lecturers and professors, so teaching skills and knowing how to interact with students is important. Especially early on, be prepared for the possibility of spending long night-time hours in observatories and travelling a lot for conferences, meetings and observation runs.  If you’re motivated enough, all the preparation will seem worthwhile as you start to uncover the secrets of the Universe in your career as an astronomer.