I'm still in high-school and am looking to pursue a career in astronomy. What are some tips and things I should know about this career?
ramparts":j5rt7r9p said:Take every single math and physics class your high school offers. If you can finish those before you graduate, go to a local university or college (a community college is especially affordable and you're bound to have one nearby) and take more advanced courses. Learning astronomy is fun, interesting, and what you're in the field for, but as a high school student (and, for that matter, a college undergrad) what you really need to know is the physics that underlies astronomy, and the math that underlies physics. Once you have that under your belt, you're in a position to both understand and make discoveries in almost any field of astronomy.
Go to a college that has a good physics program, for the same reasons. If it has an astronomy department, or a joint physics and astronomy department, that's a definite plus, but not really necessary. But if you get into a good school that has more than a few astronomers working in several different fields, consider that school strongly. Do research every summer you can, which might very well be all three summers of college, and if you have time, do research over the school year, too. Getting good grades in your physics and math classes is really important, but if you have a strong research background, a published paper or two, and good recommendation letters from research advisors, you'll really stand out in grad school applications. Astronomy is all about research, and it's never too early to get experience.
Along those lines... as I mentioned in your other thread, it is possible to do astronomy research in high school. I would highly recommend it. As I said in that post, PM me if you want some advice on that front.
Just for your reference, the path to a career in astronomy is college (4 years), grad school (usually 6-8 years), followed by a postdoc (3-5 years I think) and then you go look for faculty positions. So it takes quite a while. But once you're in, it's a great job. You probably won't be rich (marry well!), but you'll be able to live comfortably, especially after the first few rough years, you have an incredible amount of flexibility and independence (get results and put out papers, and you can come into the office whenever you damn well please), and most importantly, if you really love astronomy then you get to spend every day doing something you love, and there are very few people who can say that about their jobs.
Good luck! See you at the conferences in a few years