That lucrative career in astronomy

Contributed by
Jul 2, 2007
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Astronomers like me who stick their toes into the waters of public outreach get asked lots of questions, but the most common one is

"Do you believe in aliens? " "How do I get a job in astronomy?"

There are lots of answers to that question -- I posted one years ago, and it still holds up IMO -- and Tony Darnell over at Astronomy Buff just posted his take on it as well. I can't find too much fault with what he wrote; it dovetails with what I wrote, too. With new observatories going online, we'll be flooded with far more data than any 100 astronomers can sift through. I hope that the folks in charge of such projects just go ahead and make the data public; that way hordes of online readers can find the gems in the noise.

But we'll always need trained eyes to work on the data, and to make sure the data are cleaned up nicely and ready for analysis. That's hard to do automatically and get right 100% of the time -- I did it for some time, and it's tough work, but man, when you find that gem...!