Scopes of Astronomy in India and Abroad

-written by Angana Mazundar, edited by Ritika

As many of us Indians have been fascinated by space and astronomy since we were kids, most of us lost our motivation owing to how far-fetched a career in astronomy seemed. Although accessibility to more career opportunities is growing with the access to information through the internet, we rarely ever encounter someone who’s counting stars, literally.

So, let’s start with a fundamental question, who is an astronomer? Well, astronomy is a broad umbrella term that deals with space. Astronauts, astrophysicists, astrometeorologists, etc. all come under the category of astronomers.

The question now arises, how to build a career in astronomy? To get into the profession of astronomy, one has to start early.


Educational Requirements for a Career in Astronomy
Educational requirements for jobs in astronomy
Credits: Scott Graham

The first step is to clear one’s 12th-grade exam and take admission with Physics or Mathematics as having a background in Physics is preferable. One might also pursue a BTech where ample knowledge of physics is gained.

All set with your Bsc (Gen./Hons.) in Physics or Mathematics, the next step is to look into the courses for the master’s degree. For a career in astronomy, one can pursue an MSc in Physics. A few colleges in India also provide specializations in courses like Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Sciences, and Space Engineering at postgraduate levels. Some notable universities are:

  • Osmania University, Hyderabad
  • Andhra University, Visakhapatnam
  • Punjab University, Patiala

Apart from regular universities, IIT- Indore also offers MSc. in Astronomy, for which the admission process is done based on marks obtained in the IIT-JAM, Physics paper.

After post-graduation, it is often advisable to opt for a Ph.D. in the field to gain a greater depth of knowledge, especially for someone who plans to go into research.

Doctoral courses are offered by various renowned universities and research institutes, including prestigious universities such as the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, a pioneer research institute for pursuing a Ph.D. Entry to such Ph.D. courses takes place on the basis of examinations such as GATE, UGC NET, and JEST

Jobs in Astronomy
NASA space rocket launch
Credits: NASA

Of course, a career in the space sciences would require a job in a suitable firm. Jobs in astronomy are mainly in the sector of industry and academics.

An academic career in astronomy mainly revolves around research or teaching or both. For pursuing a research career, one can continue their research at the institute they did the Ph.D. from and get a permanent job as a scientist or an academic researcher.

Indian institutes where one can join as an astronomy scholar are:

  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation)
  • BARC (Bhaba Atomic Research Center)
  • IUCAA (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics), Pune
  • TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council), Delhi
  • ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences), Nainital
  • IISc (Indian Institute of Sciences), Bangalore
  • RRI (Raman Research Institute), Bangalore
  • IITM (Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology), Pune 

Most of these organizations recruit researchers based on JRF (Junior Research Fellowship) and through exams like GATE and UGC-NET. ISRO conducts ISRO Centralized Recruitment Board (ICRB) for graduate students of engineering. Postgraduate and doctoral students of other science fields can apply directly through a written exam and an interview.

A career in teaching could also be a point of interest for many post graduates. In such cases, the UGC NET exam can be written by the students to get a job as a professor. 

Industry-based jobs are also provided by some of the above-mentioned institutes.

Apart from opportunities in India, there are several organizations abroad that recruit brilliant astronomy scholars as a part of their research and industrial team. Some notable organizations are:

  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  • IAU (International Astronomical Union)

Apart from the traditional careers through Physics and Mathematics, there are several other ways to build an interdisciplinary career in other subjects of STEM. Some interdisciplinary approaches are listed below

  • Astrobiology
  • Astroecology
  • Astrogeology

These disciplines also go by “Exo-” instead of Astro-.

To get into interdisciplinary space sciences, one can also major in the associated subjects along with having a deep understanding of Physics and Planetary Sciences.

Other than the ones stated above, some Indian opportunities in interdisciplinary astronomy are provided by organizations like the Indian Astrobiology Research Centre (IARC), Geological Survey of India (GSI), etc.

Likewise, if one has not done a relevant degree in the field, there are ample opportunities to delve deeper into the field of astronomy through online courses and stargazing trips!


1 Comment

  • Williams
    Posted July 29, 2022 9:12 am 0Likes

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