Astronomers study light waves collected from outer space to understand how the universe works. Because only a narrow band of light waves is visible to the human eye, they use telescopes and light-collecting antennae to collect, amplify and observe light that could not otherwise be perceived.
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Astronomers earned a median salary of $96,460 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is considerable variation in salary, however; the top 10 percent of astronomers by salary earned more than $165,300, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $51,270.
Jobs for astronomers are located around the world, with the majority of opportunities held at universities and research facilities. The industry tends to be highly competitive, with about 150 job openings in North America each year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for an astronomer in 2012 was $96,460 per year. Individual astronomer salaries vary depending on geographic location, education, experience and employment sector.
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To become an astronomer, you must complete an undergraduate, graduate and a PhD program in astronomy, physics or a related subject. After obtaining a PhD, aspiring astronomers typically undertake a postdoctoral position, which focuses on research and writing within a specialty topic.
Astronomers use physics, chemistry and mathematics to study the makeup of the universe. They discover facts about other astrophysical objects using telescopes on Earth and in space, radio, computers and the geology of Earth. Astronomers also use digital cameras and charge-couple devices in order to
An astronomical unit is equal to 92.96 million miles or the mean distance between Earth and the sun. The International Astronomical Union refined the definition for this unit in 2012, making it a standard international value.
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