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A Career in Astrophysics

INTRODUCTION

Astronomy is considered the oldest science: it started when man began to express his wonderment and curiosity at the star-studded sky at night and the shinning Sun during the day. With the advent of agriculture it became necessary to know the cycle of season and it soon became clear and observant that the season seem to be related to the changing stellar background. Thus astronomy could be used to plan agricultural operations.

Sheer curiosity is inspiring rapid progress in astronomy and astrophysics even now. Thanks to the advances in technology, the astronomer now has at his disposal observing facilities that would have been considered impossible a few decades ago. Conversely, astronomical challenges inspire technology to scale greater heights, thus yielding greater dividends all round. 

Curiosity about cosmo is fine…but how can it be satisfied? This is where ‘astrophysics’ comes in: the subject that represents man’s attempt to provide rational interpretation of cosmic phenomena in terms of the known laws of science, of physics in particular.

ELIGIBILITY 

Astronomy & Astrophysics (A &A) is taught as  special courses in the M.Sc. programmes of the Physics or Mathematics departments in universities or colleges. It is, therefore , desirable for a student to acquire proficiency in physics and mathematics at the graduate level and then opt for  A & A specialization or an engineer with a B.Tech. or B.E. degree, but with aptitude for A & A, can also enter the field as a research scholar.

It is not necessary to go through a formal training in A & A at the undergraduate level but it helps if the student has developed a general interest in the field from reading good popular books or as an amateur astronomer. Research scholars in A & A are expected to undergo one year of corse work in various subjects including foundations of classical and quantum, physics, mathematical techniques, numerical analysis and computing, besides introductory courses in A& A. A good Ph. D programme takes about four years to complete.

CAREER GROWTH

With A & A on a growth curve, there is at present an acute need for young scientists to enter into the field. So, for a physics/ mathematics/ engineering graduate with  a specialization or a Ph.D. in A &A the following possibilities are open for a career:

Research Scientists: There are several research institutes and Government organizations that employ research scientists in various academic grades for research oriented programmes.

University faculty: It is expected that the interest in A& A teaching and research in the universities will grow rapidly in the years to come: for it is in the universities that we may expect to find scientists of the future. There will, therefore, be more openings in the universities, especially in physics departments, for  specialist in A &A.

Industry: Experience with increasingly sophisticated astronomical instrumentation and expertise gained in computer programming and handling data can serve as valuable assets for jobs in industry. Engineers who have worked in astronomical facilities, as well as astronomers, have had highly successful careers in various industrial & technological organizations.

TEACHING AND RESEARCH PROGRAMMES 

The opportunities for A & A study lie both in the universities and in autonomous research institutes. 

(I) Universities: The universities that offer A & A specialization at M.Sc. and, in some cases, a Ph. D.  programme are:   
Punjabi University, Patiala                                                       
Specialisation in A & A                                                                      
Banglore University
Burdwan University
Calcutta University
Delhi University
Gauhati University
Gujarat University
Gorakhpur  University
Indian Institute of Science
Jadavpur University
Kashmir University
Kumaon University
Lucknow University
Madurai Kamaraj University
Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam
Pune University
Punjab University
Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur
Roorkee University
Swami Ramanand Teerth University, Nanded   

(II)     Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics; Pune

(III)    Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP), Indian Institute of Science,
        Banglore

(IV)    Autonomous Research Institute and Laboratories

(V)     Vacation Students Research Programmes ( VSRP)

(VI)    Space Programme


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