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An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as black holes, moons, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as Gamma-ray bursts and cosmic microwave background radiation. A related but distinct subject, cosmology, is concerned with studying the universe as a whole. An astronomer researches the world beyond earth.

Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using physical laws. Today, that distinction has mostly disappeared and the terms "astronomer" and "astrophysicist" are interchangeable. Professional astronomers are highly educated individuals who typically have a PhD in physics or astronomy and are employed by research institutions or universities.[1] They spend the majority of their time working on research, although they quite often have other duties such as teaching, building instruments, or aiding in the operation of an observatory. The number of professional astronomers in the United States is actually quite small. The American Astronomical Society, which is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, has approximately 7,700 members. This number includes scientists from other fields such as physics, geology, and engineering, whose research interests are closely related to astronomy.[2] The International Astronomical Union comprises almost 10,145 members from 70 different countries who are involved in astronomical research at the PhD level and beyond.[3]

While there is a relatively low number of professional astronomers,[citation needed] the field is popular among amateurs. Most cities have amateur astronomy clubs that meet on a regular basis and often host star parties. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is the largest general astronomical society in the world, comprising both professional and amateur astronomers as well as educators from 70 different nations.[4] Like any hobby, most people who think of themselves as amateur astronomers may devote a few hours a month to stargazing and reading the latest developments in research. However, amateurs span the range from so-called "armchair astronomers" to the very ambitious, who own science-grade telescopes and instruments with which they are able to make their own discoveries and assist professional astronomers in research.

Modern astronomers[edit]

Galileo is often referred to as the Father of Modern Astronomy.

Contrary to the classical image of an old astronomer peering through a telescope through the dark hours of the night, it is far more common to use a charge-coupled device camera to record a long, deep exposure, allowing a more sensitive image to be created because the light is added over time. Before CCDs, photographic plates were a common method of observation. Modern astronomers spend relatively little time at telescopes - most spend a few weeks per year. Analysis of observed phenomena or make predictions for observational astronomers.

Astronomers who serve as faculty spend much of their time teaching undergraduate and graduate classes. Most universities also have outreach programs including public telescope time and sometimes planetariums as a public service to encourage interest in the field.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Astronomer". NOAO. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "American Astronomical Society Home". AAS. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  3. ^ "About IAU". IAU. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "About Us". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomer — Please support Wikipedia.
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3843 news items

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:37:30 -0700

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - An astronomer says a total solar eclipse in 2017 could draw thousands people to Casper, which lies directly in the path of the event. The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday (http://tinyurl.com/pkr3y6o ) Astronomical League ...

The Catholic Sun

The Catholic Register
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:04:41 -0700

U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory, is pictured with the observatory's meteorite collection in this 2006 file photo. CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo ...
Huffington Post
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:46:49 -0700

Of the 2,109 participants, 667 (or 31.6 percent) were women. Indeed, in recent years, the fraction of women among astronomers has been growing continuously. But who is considered to have been the first female astronomer? Most would agree that this ...
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 21:30:00 -0700

Researcher, astronomer and 'voice of NASA's mission to Mars' Steven Squyres speaks to a group gathered Saturday at Clarkson University's student center in front of a projected photograph of the NASA spacecraft assembly team at Cape Canaveral, the ...

International Business Times UK

International Business Times UK
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 01:40:38 -0700

A Nasa scientist has said that we are close to finding extraterrestrial life in the universe. Astronomer Kevin Hand has said that the Goldilocks Zone, the habitable band around a star that can support liquid water as it is neither too cold nor too hot ...
Independent Catholic News
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:37:47 -0700

Jesuit astronomer, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, has been awarded the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist". The award was made by the American Astronomical Society's (AAS) Division for ...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 18:36:24 -0700

David Kaplan, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and colleagues reported the discovery of this remarkable star in the Astrophysical Journal. The star is a white dwarf — the dying remains of a once-active star. White dwarfs are no ...
The Weather Channel
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:37:42 -0700

It lasted only a split second, but a quick pulse of radio waves picked up by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have scientists now believing the signals did indeed come from outer space. Before the Arecibo telescope picked up the signal in 2012 ...

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