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Tips for an aspiring astronomer?

  1. Nov 13, 2013 #1
    Hello, I'd like to ask a few questions related to career choices and the requirements to become an astronomer or astrophysicist.
    I'm an eighth grade student from Brazil and, since I was a child, I have always been fascinated with planets, stars, galaxies, the universe itself, and the explanations for the way it works. I have been studying Physics by myself for two years now, only with my brother's old textbooks and the internet. The educational system in Brazil's schools is horrific and I don't believe the universities are any better. With this in mind, I have been wanting to study in another country when I finish high school, despite the government's lack of support. My first question is: how difficult is it for a foreign student to enter a good college in places such as Britain or the United States?
    I understand some of the requirements related to a work in Astronomy, such as being good at Mathematics and Programming; being willing to spend hours, even days, studying or researching; finding logical solutions when facing a problem; etc. I am not only good at Maths, but I also enjoy it. I know basically nothing of Programming, but I intend to learn it within the next years. Becoming a scientist is the most important achievement for me, so I would do anything for it. Another question: are there any other aspects I should know about? Such as subjects in which I should have basic knowledge before entering college?

    Additional information: I am aware that, to enter a university in another country, one should have good grades in the latest years of school. In my case that wouldn't be a problem: so far, I have gotten A's in almost every subject, and I don't believe high school would be different.

    P.S.: If the thread is misplaced within the category, just let me know and I will relocate it. Also, I apologise for any grammar mistakes I might have made (I'm self-taught at English).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2013 #2
    Hello Tina,
    There is a great scope for astronomy and astrophysics nowadays. As a 11th grade student, I've come across many such people who are aspiring astrophysics and cosmology as their career. Why not, its exciting and full of challenges, that would completely settle one's life.

    Here you go for the tips..
    1. bit.ly/1bqSggg
    2. bit.ly/p7aQMB

    The most important thing is, that you are the sculptor of your own success. So, find your own way to become an astronomer.

    Hope this helped you..

    -With regards
    Maitreya Hegde
  4. Nov 14, 2013 #3


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    The Brazilian government will often pay for students to study in the US. I know many students from Brazil (although mostly at the graduate level) who did this, so look into it. While getting into top US schools can be very difficult for anyone, it's not hard for a good student (especially one with funding) to get into many good schools, and you just need a good school for undergraduate physics. You'll go somewhere else for grad school, and that's free either way (you get paid to work on a PhD in science in the US).

    There are many resources for people to learn programming for free online, particularly Python, and many astronomers are switching to Python these days. So look into that in your free time, and try to learn math up through calculus at least before starting physics so that you can jump straight into a physics major. Look for research opportunities as early as possible to really get involved in the field.
  5. Nov 14, 2013 #4
    Thank you both for your answers, they were indeed helpful.
    My desire to enter a good college in another country is almost impossible, principally in the matters of funding (I come from a low-middle class family, in a very recluse part of Brazil). Also, there barely are Astronomy/Astrophysics courses in my state's universities. Yet, despite the obstacles, I don't intend to give up.
    For once again, thank you.
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