What skills do astronomers need? (Beginner)

What kinds of skills are important for astronomers?

Astronomers need to be good at physics and math; that's what they do! Don't fall into the trap of thinking that astronomy is one of the "easier" sciences! Astronomers work a lot with computers so good computer and programming skills are helpful. Some astronomers build their own instruments, so they learn about electronics, materials fabrication, and machining, and other skills.

Astronomers need good teaching skills as well, since they teach as much as they learn. They also need good writing skills so they can write grant proposals to get money and telescope time for their projects, and they share their research by writing articles for journals. They must have good communications skills as well. Very few papers in journals have just one author, since astronomers generally work in teams with various colleagues, so they need to be able to share information and get along with different people.

Page last updated on June 19, 2015.

About the Author

Britt Scharringhausen

Britt studies the rings of Saturn. She got her PhD from Cornell in 2006 and is now a Professor at Beloit College in Wisconson.

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