Advice on going into astronomy/astrophysics

  • Thread starter optimus13
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In summary, the conversation discusses the introduction of Isaac, a 17-year-old interested in pursuing a career in astrophysics or a related field. However, Isaac mentions struggling with math and possibly having a mathematical learning disorder. The conversation also touches on the necessary math background for a career in astrophysics and the importance of brushing up on math skills. The conversation ends with the desire for advice and resources to help with the pursuit of this career path.
  • #1
optimus13
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First off, I would like to say hello :smile:

I didn't see an introduction thread or forum section, so I suppose I will introduce myself in my first post I make here. I'm Isaac, from sunny(and humid) Florida, and I forgot how I found this forum. Introductions aside, here's the juicy details :-p

At the moment I'm working on my Associates in Business Administration(completely irrelevant but I thought I would mention it anyways, job market and economy at large here is really bad, and I have no money to move anywhere where it would be comparatively better, I figured a Bus. Admin. degree would help me find something temporary). I get the degree in August next year, so that's really my main focus at the moment.

BUT, I want to take up a career in astrophysics or something to that effect. Although I just turned 17, I've already graduated(3.3 GPA, or anything equivalent to) and I am good at addition, subtraction and multiplication, but long division is where everything becomes completely incomprehensible. Algebra was considerably hard, but most of my problem was keeping up with the classroom pace and remembering everything the teacher presented to us the day before. I've always contemplated the possibility that I may have a mathematical learning disorder, maybe dyscalculia? Throughout my schooling, my grades in math were between a B or D grade, generally depending on the class(learning environment) and teacher. I still in general struggled though.

My science background isn't as complicated. Every year where Earth-Space sciences were the main subject in science, for the most part, got an A(on the rare occasion the B). Physics was alright, it was fairly easy to understand, I just never took interest in the mechanics, so I was pretty mediocre in that aspect. Biology is another story, but I only want to know about Astronomy and Astrophysics in the meantime.

As far as astronomy and astrophysics go, I'd say that the most specialized field that interests me is 'planet hunting', or rather exoplanetology. But I am interested in other aspects outside of that small specialized field as well, so there are other options to look at. In astrophysics, I am gravitated towards theoretical physics mostly, but I'm also intrigued by stellar and planetary physics. So my interest in both astronomy and the physics therein are pretty general.

Anyhow, to wrap this up, I'd love to get advice and maybe references to resources I will want to take a look at. Anything would be great, links, recommended books, magazines, etc. I definitely feel that I need to brush up on my math, mostly Algebra at the moment. Later on in my current degree program I actually have a course in college algebra, so that will be mutually beneficial. I'll also look around personally and see what kind of stuff I can find, I saw a 'Learning Materials' section with tutorials, maybe that's a good start?

Cheers :smile:
 
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  • #2
Before you can even start taking physics classes, you need to work your way up to calculus, and that's just for the introductory classes. You'll need several years of calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations to earn a bachelors in physics, and more advanced math for a PhD. A theoretical physicist has almost as much math as a PhD in math. It sounds like this might be a lot more work than you were anticipating. Astronomers and astrophysicists have about the same math background as any physicist.
 
  • #3
Also one thing that it cool about astrophysics is that astrophysics uses things from just about every other branch of physics.

The most important thing is to work on the math. If you can get yourself at the point where you can do partial differential equations, then you are pretty much set.
 
  • #4
I also want to become an astrophysicist
 
  • #5


Hello Isaac,

Welcome to the forum and thank you for introducing yourself! It's great to see that you have a strong interest in astronomy and astrophysics at such a young age. It's never too early to start pursuing your passions.

My first piece of advice would be to continue your education in math and science. As you mentioned, these subjects are crucial for pursuing a career in astronomy or astrophysics. I would recommend taking as many math and science courses as you can, and perhaps even considering a minor in one of these subjects.

In terms of resources, there are many online courses and tutorials available that can help you brush up on your math skills. Some popular ones include Khan Academy and Coursera. Additionally, many universities offer online courses in astronomy and astrophysics that you can take for free or a minimal cost.

I also highly recommend getting involved in research and internships in these fields. This will not only give you hands-on experience, but also help you network and make connections in the field.

Lastly, don't be discouraged by your struggles with math in the past. Many successful scientists have faced similar challenges, and with hard work and dedication, you can overcome them. Best of luck on your journey in astronomy and astrophysics!
 

Related to Advice on going into astronomy/astrophysics

1. What education do I need to become an astronomer/astrophysicist?

To become an astronomer/astrophysicist, you will need at least a Bachelor's degree in astronomy, physics, or a related field. However, most positions in this field require a higher level of education, such as a Master's degree or a PhD. It is important to have a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and computer science.

2. What skills are necessary for a career in astronomy/astrophysics?

Some important skills for a career in astronomy/astrophysics include strong analytical and critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a passion for science and curiosity about the universe. It is also important to have good communication and teamwork skills, as many projects in this field are collaborative.

3. What types of jobs are available in astronomy/astrophysics?

There are a variety of jobs available in astronomy/astrophysics, including research positions at universities, government agencies, and private organizations, as well as teaching positions at colleges and universities. Other career options include working for science museums, observatories, and planetariums, or in science communication and outreach.

4. Is astronomy/astrophysics a competitive field?

Yes, astronomy/astrophysics is a highly competitive field. Due to its popularity and limited job opportunities, it can be challenging to secure a position in this field. It is important to have a strong academic background, research experience, and networking skills to increase your chances of success.

5. What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing a career in astronomy/astrophysics?

My advice would be to start building a strong foundation in math, physics, and computer science early on in your education. Take advantage of research opportunities and internships to gain hands-on experience in the field. Also, network with professionals in the field and attend conferences and workshops to stay updated on the latest developments and opportunities in the field.

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