Career & Courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Which group should I take in eleventh standard to become an astronaut ? (Fazil)

You should note that there is no manned space flight in India. Should there ever be one, it is likely that the first candidates would come from one of the Armed Services, perhaps the Air Force. Geocities provides all sorts of astronaut resources (mostly from an American viewpoint). However, the requirements would probably be the same for any space programme. Basically, the most important subjects at school level are physics and maths and it is essential to do well in academics. Top


Could you let me know the courses available in Astronomy with ranking in India ?

There is an excellent discussion of opportunities available to students written by Professor T Padmanabhan (IUCAA) on the IUCAA Page . For more information about programmes at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, please visit Graduate Studies Page (IIA). Top


What subjects do I have to study in order
to pursue Astronomy ?
(Puneet Sachdev)

Most important for astronomy is to study physics and maths.There are many different fields of astronomy from the instrument building teams who work with their hands to the theoretical branches where mathematical ability and physical intuition is essential. In all branches of astronomy, and indeed life, good programming skills are invaluable. Perhaps the most essential ingredient is curiosity and the ability to search out answers. If you would like to be involved in some research projects, please let us know and we can direct you to the right places. Top


How do I prepare for JEST examination ? Are there any Indian Astronomy magazines for reference ? (Prashanth Haridas)

The JEST examination is held once in a year, in the month of February. No material is available for the preparation. The pattern consists of multiple-choice objective questions, covering general areas in the field of physics. The exam checks for analytical skills, knowledge of the subject and ability to tackle the problem. The maximum number of allotted marks is 150, evenly divided among fifty questions with negetive marking for wrong answers. The time allotted for the exam is three hours. Please refer to national and international journals for information about astronomy. For details about journals, please visit Librarypage on our website. Students with a post graduate degree in physics or M.Techdegree in engineering or a bachelor's degree in engineering, in any field are eligible to apply for JEST examination. Information regarding the examination will be published in the newspapers. For the forthcoming exam details, please keep in touch with our website. Top


What are the future prospects in terms of research and jobs in the field of Astrophysics in India ? (Sumit)

There is a severe shortage of serious research astronomers in the country. However, there are also a limited number of institutions which actually do research in astronomy. All I can say is that you should try to get your degree under a well recognized astronomer and you will have a reasonable chance of success. Top

What qualification do I need inorder to study astronomy in India ?

You have to get a B.Sc. or B.Eng. in Physics or Engineering subjects and apply for a Master's degree programme in one of the Indian Institutions. Top

Which university in India offers Astronomy courses ?

There is no university in India which offers an undergraduateprogramme in Astronomy. At the Master's and Ph.D levels, there are several options. Some further information is given on the Graduate Studies page of this website. Also, you should contact the Board of Graduate Studies at IIA Top

What courses should one pursue after twelfth standard for a career in Astronomy ? (Percy Savai)

I think that the answer to this depends on your own interests. If you want to do instrumentation/ experimental astronomy, you may go in for the engineering option. On the other hand, if you want to do
theoretical astronomy or observations, you may go through the science stream.As far as the future career options, especially if you later decide you do not want to do science, the engineering option might be preferable. Top

What are the career/job prospects in Astronomy and Astrophysics after doing B.E.(Electronics) ? (Naren Gupta)

If you want to end with the B.E., there are many jobs open for technicians at various places in the country, including ISRO. If you wantto continue on to do research, it is mandatory that you get a Ph.D. At mostinstitutions, you can join the Ph.D. programme with a B.E. Top

What are the job opportunities in Astrophysics ? (S Karthik)

In India, there are several astronomical institutions including IIA where astronomers are employed. Other opportunities are in thebig government institutions such as ISRO and DRDO. Top

I have appeared for the SSC exams. I would like to become an astronomer. What exams do I have to take ?

(Aditi Duppaliwar)


There are several institutes in India which offer you to pursue a career in astronomy. Below is the list of institutes. You may visit these websites for more information.
Indian Institute of Astrophysics, (Bangalore)
Indian Institute of Science, (Bangalore)
Raman Research Institute, (Bangalore)
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, (Pune)
National Centre for Radio Astronomy

Most of these institutes offer opportunities to the aspiring candidates based on a joint entrance test followed by an interview.The minimum qualification required for appearing for the entrance exam is a
Master's degree in Physics. Some of these institutes accomodate engineering graduates as well. Top

What is the use of space research ?(S Karthikeyan)

One of the most commonly used is the number of technological advances which have come through ,largely, NASA missions. These include miniaturization, new plastics and so on. This is a dangerous statement because it is probably also true that the advances would have occurred anyway. My own personal belief is that astronomy and science in general, is one of the facets of human existence, just as art and music. The amount we spend on space research is whatever society feels is an appropriate amount. We have been fortunate in astronomy that we have a fascinating field with stunning pictures.

What do you do to increase the knowledge of Indians about Astronomy & Astrophysics?

A number of IIA staff give public lectures at different schools and colleges and volunteer at the Planetarium. IIA staff have also served as mentors and judges in local science competitions such as "Red Rover Goes to Mars". We are always ready to do more and welcome suggestions and
enquiries. Please do not hesitate to contact any member of IIA or to send requests to the Top

Could you give some information on Amateur Astronomer's Club at Bangalore ? (Srikanth)

You can get information about the Amateur Astronomer's Club at Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium. The contact numbers are :91 (80) 226 6084, 220 3224. For more information, please visit Association for Bangalore Amateur Astronomers. Top

,b>What is the difference between Astronomy and Astrophysics ?

Traditionally astronomy has been more observational in scope while astrophysics is more analytical. Thus astronomers look through telescope while astrophysicists model data. The distinctions are much more blurred now and most astronomers/astrophysicists do both. Top

What are the entry requirements to do M.Sc.(Theoretical Physics) in IISc. (Siddharth Singh)

IISc. does not offer M.Sc. programmes as such. But, with a B.Sc. degree, you may apply for Integrated Ph.D. programme. In this programme, a student undergoes a two-year M.S. course, which comprises of both optional and compulsory subjects. The Department of Physics at IISc. is mainly oriented towards "condensed matter theory and experimental" work. You may obtain M.S. degree after successfully completing the course and continue on to do Ph.D. programme in one of the subject areas that is pursued in the department (Please check for more details on research areas). At present, no faculty member works in the field of cosmology in the physics department. If you are determined to do Ph.D. in the field of cosmology, you may probably leave IISc. after M.S. and apply to places like TIFR (Mumbai)(, IUCAA (Pune) (, where much work is going on in this field. You may also apply to foreign universities for Ph.D. programme .Top

Can a person from a Engineering background in Metallurgy be able to make a career in Astronomy ? If yes, How ?
What other requirements are necessary to make it a success ?
(Deepak Kumar)

In principle, yes, it is possible to make a career in astronomy. To enter into astronomy you have to be good at general physics. You may enter our institute through JEST Examination which is held once in a year. The JEST examination consists of multiple choice questions, from the area of general physics. Please refer to the newspapers and also to our website for further information about JEST examination. Please refer to Graduate Studies for more information regarding doctoral and short term programmes in IIA.

To make a career in astronomy with a metallurgy background depends on what aspect of astronomy you are interested to work in. Please refer to Research areas for the current areas of research in IIA. Top

Can engineering graduates from any branch join Ph.D. programme in IIA ?

Yes, graduates who have done B.E. (any field) may join IIA for a doctoral programme. The entry is through JEST examination which is held once in a year. The examination comprises of multiple choice questions, from the field of general physics. So, the candidates must have a strong background in the fundamentals of physics. The entrance exam is followed by an interview. Top

How to build a research career in GTR & Cosmology ? (H Srikanth)

If you want to pursue a research career in abroad, you will need to appear for GRE, TOEFL & Advanced GRE examinations. On the other hand, if you are planning to pursue a research career in India, you may join IIA, IISC, IUCAA (Pune), for which you will have to appear for Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST), conducted annually. For more information about JEST exam & Graduate Studies at IIA, please visit Graduate Studies at IIA. Top

What contributions can a Mechanical Engineer make in Astrophysics or its related fields ? (Gurukiran)

Astrophysics involves the study of stellar objects. Stellar objects emanate radiation in all bands of the electromagentic spectrum. The study of the optical band is called Optical Astronomy, the study of the radio band is called Radio Astronomy and so on. The study of stellar objects thus require instruments. Building of such instruments require an Engineering background. For instance, in Optical Astrophysics, the light coming from stellar objects can be studied in various ways. One can use a spectrograph to study the spectral lines in the incoming light which will give information about the material that makes up the stellar object and also about material in the space in between us and the stellar object.This is done by studying the emission and absorption lines in the stellar spectrum. It was the use of a spectrograph for the first time that brought the change from Astronomy to Astrophysics, thus introducing the laboratory
techniques used in Physics to the field of Astronomy.

Similarly, the polarisation of the stellar light can be measured using a polarimeter which gives information on various Astrophysical processes taking place in the stellar object.

Building of such instruments involves the combined efforts of Mechanical Engineers, Electrical/Electronic Engineers, Optical Engineers etc. A Mechanical Engineer does the design of the structure for housing the
instrument, drive systems, if required etc. The design has to be done taking into consideration the tolerances of the Optical elements and the ultimate requirement of the Astronomer.

This is thus a field where one can use the techniques of Engineering to conduct experiments in the biggest laboratory ever viz. the
Universe itself! Top

Last updated on: March 25, 2019