(Submitted November 23, 1997)
Hi, I am a grade nine student from
Edmonton. When I was asked to pick a career, I chose
astronomy as the field I wish to study in. This assignment
requires us to ask an astronomer several questions about
the job. Below are examples of job interview questions and
I hope you are able to answer the following.
1. What kind of training is required?
2. What part of the job that you like most?
3. What part of the job that you dislike?
4. What are the company benefits?
5. How can one be promoted?
6. In this type of work, do you need a good background
knowledge about computers?
7. Will there be any trips out of the city for work
8. What are your job responsibilities?
9. Are there any dress codes or uniforms required to wear
while at work?
10. What projects are you working on now?
11. What kind of qualifications do I need to become
12. What unions do you belong to?
Thank you very much for your time.
Your question was forwarded to our "Ask an Astrophysicist" service.
2. I like to think of the universe as a puzzle that we are trying
to piece together. Every new discovery I make is fitting
another piece of the puzzle.
3. There is a lot of paperwork involved in proposing for more funding.
Every job has some bureaucratic parts, but it's not the most
4. I work for a contractor (Universities Space Research Association)
to NASA and the benefits are good: retirement benefits, health
and dental insurance, generous vacation time and sick leave
benefits, etc. The good universities that hire astronomers will
all have comparable benefits.
5. Promotions can be in the form of permanent positions, raises, and
better titles. Also improved recognition in the astronomy
6. It is very unusual in today's day and age for an astronomer not
to have a good to very good background in computers and
7. I regularly travel to remote sites for observations, as well as
considerable travel to other cities to meet other astronomers.
8. My job responsibilities include designing, building, testing, and
flying various scientific instruments. After they've flown,
I analyze the scientific data to figure out what we've learned
from the experiment and where we should look for the next
piece of the puzzle.
9. No dress code. I tend to wear t-shirts and blue jeans unless I'm
going to a meeting in which case I'll wear at least a dress
shirt and slacks, and sometime suit and tie if I'm giving a talk.
10. Most of my time is currently spent working on a spacecraft called the
Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) for which I'm Deputy
Project Scientist. You can look at:
http://www.srl.caltech.edu/ACE/ for more information.
11. See 1.
12. I don't belong to any unions. There are several scientific
organizations that many astronomers belong to: The American
Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society for
Thanks for your questions
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