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Occupation Details

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Astronomer / Astrophysicist

Job Zone

Most of these occupations require post-graduate qualifications. For example, they may require a masters degree, and some require a Ph.D., or M.D.

Related Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience plus specialist training to be able to do their job.

Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. They may also require very specialist skills. Very advanced communication and organisational skills are required. Examples include lawyers, aerospace engineers, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and most scientists.

€30k > 65
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€30 - 65
Related Information:
Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2017

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Astronomers research stars, planets and the universe. They study and analyse maps, space, and the universe at large, using information from telescopes and satellites.

Videos & Interviews header image

1Total Records:3

David McKeown
Space Scientist
David McKeown is a space scientist with the European Space Agency. David also lectures on the Space Science and Technology Masters at University College Dublin in the areas of vibrations and control as well as launchers.
Go to Interview

Dave McDonald

Science Ambassador Dave McDonald is a health and safety representative by day, and amateur astronomer by night. In 2008 he became only the second person to discover an asteroid from Ireland, 160 years after Andrew Graham in 1848. This was followed by a second discovery in March 2009.

In this interview – before he became famous – he talks about how he chose his career, the cool things in his work, and his tips on work experience and what to study.

Go to Interview

Deirdre Kelleghan
Amateur Astronomer

Deirdre Kelleghan is an artist, amateur astronomer, informal educator and writer. Here she talks about how she chose her career, what her job is like, the cool things in her work, and her tips on what to study.

Go to Interview

The Work header image

Astronomy is the study of the universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. The main branches are astrometry, celestial mechanics, and astrophysics.

Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy concerned with the physical processes associated with the celestial bodies and the intervening regions of space. It deals principally with the energy of stellar systems and the relation between this energy and the evolution of the system.

Astronomers study the universe beyond Earth. Profound investigations like the origins of the universe and the search for life on other planets and solar systems inspire and fascinate many astronomers. Space also gives scientists the opportunity to study physical processes and phenomena in conditions that do not exist on Earth.  
Astronomers use sophisticated equipment to collect, analyse and interpret data. As well as optical telescopes, they may use radio and infrared telescopes, or satellites. Infrared telescopes enable astronomers to look at the sun through the dust layer that surrounds it. Astronomers use radio telescopes, which can see far into space, to try to find out about the early stages of the universe. Astronomy has close links with particle physics.  
Astronomers usually work in teams, often including astronomers from different countries. Team members are often specialists, for example, in observational astronomy or data analysis and interpretation.  
Many astronomers travel a lot to attend conferences and make observations abroad. Others are laboratory or office based.

Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.


Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.


Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.


Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects.


Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.


Raise funds for scientific research.


Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.


Teach astronomy or astrophysics.


Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.


Review scientific proposals and research papers.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


Analyzing Data or Information: Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.


Thinking Creatively: Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.


Processing Information: Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.


Getting Information: Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others: Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.


Making Decisions and Solving Problems: Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.


Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events: Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.


Interacting With Computers: Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.


Training and Teaching Others: Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


Physics: Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.


Mathematics: Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


Computers and Electronics: Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.


English Language: Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.


Education and Training: Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.


Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Mathematics: Using mathematics to solve problems.


Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.


Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.


Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

To become an astronomer, you will need an extensive knowledge of Maths and Physics. You will need to be computer literate because a lot of equipment is computer controlled.  
Research work demands patience, problem solving skills, imagination and determination. Foreign language skills are an advantage, because astronomers may work in international teams or travel to make telescope observations from other countries.

Entry Routesheader image

The usual route towards a career as a professional astronomer is to take a degree in a relevant subject area, which is usually physics but also in Mathematics, Astronomy or Astrophysics.  
It is almost impossible to become an astronomer or an astrophysicist without a postgraduate qualification, normally a Ph.D. in Astronomy or Astrophysics.

Last Updated: October, 2014

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

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Go..Astronomer - from: N.C.S. [UK]

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: Astronomy Ireland
Address: P.O. Box 2888. Dublin 5.
Tel: (01) 847 0777
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Physics, Mathematics & Space Science
Physics, Mathematics & Space Science

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