Study Astronomy in the US
Astronomy is an ancient natural science which has enraptured civilizations for thousands of years. The quest for knowledge beyond the earth's atmosphere continues to inspire and challenge astronomers all over the world. There is an infinite need of fresh young talent to develop our research and understanding of the material universe. Where better, then, to study astronomy than the USA?
Study Astronomy in the US
With a rich history in aeronautical research and space exploration, America remains at the forefront of astronomy. As a country, the US not only expresses an interest in astronomy but realises its relevance to modern society and its importance to human development. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is just one example of the US' devotion to astronomy. Made up of professional astronomers and interested lay-people, it was founded in 1899 and currently has over 7, 000 members. As a state, America's dedication to aeronautics and aerospace research takes the shape of The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As an executive government agency, NASA is given around 18 billion dollars a year to carry out aeronautics and aerospace research as well as manned and unmanned space programs. The presence of these organisations, and others, ensures that the best possible resources, teaching and graduate opportunities are in place at American Universities.
There are around 85 universities in the US offering Astronomy as an undergraduate degree. An Astronomy degree requires the intensive study of physics, mathematics and astronomy. Whether you choose to major in astronomy or physics is up to you and is something you should discuss with the astronomy department at your prospective university. Each university has its own research opportunities and placements for undergraduates and graduates. The research opportunities available can be a sign of the quality of the institution and they should at least partly inform your decision about where you want to study. Access to the best research opportunities in turn leads to greater career possibilities. To pursue a career in astronomy it is most likely that you will need to attain a Ph.D. which is predominantly made up of independent research. In terms of career opportunities, over half of professional astronomers are employed in or affiliated with university education in which there is a balance between teaching and research. About a third of astronomers are employed directly by the government or government funded agencies, including NASA. Other than this, there are career opportunities in business and private industry. This may be in a research role or in a position which does not directly pertain to astronomy but uses astronomers' skills in areas such as remote sensing, computer applications, instrumentation and much more.