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GodfreyLeeHighSchool

Howhasthejoboftheastronomerchangedovertime?Orsincetheturnofthecentury
(1800stoPresent)?
Astronomy

JoshuaCrame
SeniorCapstone
BrianCahoon
28thMarch,2016
JoshuaCrame

BrianCahoon
SeniorCapstone
21March2016
Howhasthejoboftheastronomerchangedovertime?Orsincetheturnofthecentury(
1800stoPresent)?

JoshuaCrame
BrianCahoon
SeniorCapstone
28thMarch,2016

TheSkillsthatareRequiredtobeanAstronomer
Thefieldofastronomyhasdevelopedgreatlydevelopedovertheages.Inthepast
astronomyusedtobeconsideredlookingupintotheskyandmakingaprediction.Often
astronomyisconfusedwiththisoldformofastronomy,ofwhichisnowknownasastrology.
Astronomyasevolvedfarpastthisnowutilizingmathematicstofigureoutdistances,
programmingtousethehightechtelescopesandknowledgeofmorethanonescience.
Astronomerstodayhavetobeskilledatavarietyofcomputerprogramming,astronomersalso
havetohaveastrongskillwithmathandspecificequations,andthenastronomersmustalsobe
abletocombineknowledgeofothersciencessuchasphysicsandchemistry,astronomersmust
alsohavethementalcapacitytoobserveandrecordallthatisinthesky.

Astronomyisthestudyofcelestialobjects,spaceandphysicalobjectsintheuniverseasa
whole
Astronomersmusthaveanastuteknowledgeintheprogramminglanguage.Researchhas
evolved,Accordingto(Astroed2013)
Today,cuttingedgeresearchoftenrequireshighspeed
computingforsimulationanddataanalysis,interactivetoolstoenhanceextractionofrelevant
informationfrommultiparameterdatabases,accesstoautomatedandroboticinstrumentation,
andmanagementofincomprehensiblylargedatasets.
Meaningthatastronomersneedtheability
toanalysisandunderstandthesebasicsofcomputerprogramming.(AstroEd,2013)goesonto
say
Theissuefortheresearcherintrainingisnotwhethercomputingskillsareneeded,butwhich
onesaremostcritical.Thefieldofastronomyhasevolvedpastthesimplydoingequations
yourselfandanalyzingthedataonyourown.Inshortmostworkinthefieldofastronomyis
analyzingthedataratherthanactuallylookingthroughatelescopeanddiscoveringcelestial
bodieswithyourowneyes.
ThisisonewaythatAstronomyhastremendouslychangedbackin
thepastallequationsweredonewiththemathcomponentsbyhand,butnowwiththeadditionof
programmingthishaschangedimmensely,afirmknowledgeofmathisstillrequiredyetits
nowdonethroughtechnologyratherthanhand.
Asstatedbeforeprogrammingisalanguagethatconnectswithastronomymoresotoday
thanitdidinthepast.Programminganditsassociationwithastronomyisarelativelynew
additiontothefield.Technology,inparticularcomputingappearedinastronomyaroundthe
timethatcomputingdid,whichwas50yearsago.Inthisdayandageaimportantaspectof
astronomy,andarequirementisprogramming.Themostcommontypeofprogrammingused
inastronomyisc++orcprogrammingas(Astroed2013)describesitas,Cisanexcellent

programminglanguageforalmostanyapplication,andthereareroutinesavailableinthepublic
domainformanyapplicationsinphysicsandastronomycomputing.CompiledCprogramsare
readilyoptimizedandexecutedwithspeedsthattakeadvantageofthemostrecenthardwarein
desktopandlargemulticorecomputingenvironments.ForexampleNvidia's
graphical
processingunit(GPU)computing
isfullysupported,enablingthousandsofseparateprocessors
or"cores"tobetaskedtosolvelargeproblems.Thenthereareotherprogramsusedfor
astronomy,accordingto(SelbyCull2002)theyincludeProgramminglanguagesaboundC,
C++,Fortran,Perl,python,cshell,LISPthelistgoeson.Fortunately,it'sthebasicskillsof
programmingthatareneeded,andtheseareeasilylearnedattheundergraduatelevel.Aswas
saidthesearejustlearnedataundergraduatelevelnotevenhighlightingthatprogressiontowards
adoctoratewhichoftenrequiredforalmostanyjobintheastronomycareer.Thecprogramming
thatisbeingtalkedabout
Withprogrammingcomestheneedforastrongskillinthevariousmaths.Startingout
withthebasicsincludingalgebra,statistics,geometryscientificnotation,logscales,andcalculus.
Mostschoolingforastronomyhasaveryheavymathfocuswhichisbecauseoftheneedfor
physics.
Pertainingtowhatwasstatedbeforediscoveriestodayareoftencalculatedwiththe
combinationofscienceandmath.Whatequationsweusearethoseofdistance(d/dsun=square
rootofL/Lsun/b/bsun),thenthereistheequationofmagnitudewhichinvolveslogsan
exampleis(m2m1=2.5log10b2/b1)thenthereisluminosityandmuchmore.Asyoucan
seewiththeequationshownrequireabasicknowledgeofalgebra,infactthisisoftenthefocus
formostcollegestudentsasamajor.Nottomentionthatthesehavetobecombinedwithpre
existingknowledgewithphysics.
Anapplicationofthiswithinhistoryisthediscoveryofthe9th

planetinthesolarsystem,thetypeofmathgravitationalmathwhichincludestheuseofthe
equationsstatedbefore,includingthedistanceformula.Pertainingtothebasicdegree
requirementscomingfrom(UniversityofKansas)Math121and122whichiscalculus1and2,
Math223(VectorCalculus),Math290(ElementaryLinearAlgebra),Math320(Elementary
DifferentialEquation),ofcoursethisvariablebetweeninstitutionbutitsageneraloutline.The
pointthatscomingacrossisMathisaveryimportantskillrequiredtobeastronomy,andsince
Mathisaskillthatsconstantlyimprovedupon,itssubjecttochange.Itsaveryinvaluableskill
requiredforthefieldofastronomy.
Someexamplesof
Astronomersneedtohaveahighknowledgeinthesciencesof
chemistryandmostlyimportantlyaextensiveknowledgeofphysics.Physicsplaysakeyrole
withintheastronomyfield,theeducationrequirementsaloneincludeastrophysics,stellarand
planetaryphysics,galaxies,cosmology,interstellarmedium,andoptics.Foradegreelevel,
(learn.org)sciencesneededare,requiredclassesmayincludemethodology,electromagnetic
theory,quantummechanics,atmosphericphysics,statisticalmechanics,inversemethods,data
analysis,atmosphericdynamics,remotesensing,computationalfluiddynamicsandatmospheric
radiativetransfer.Doctoralprogramsusuallyalsoincludeasignificantamountoflabworkwhere
you'llhavetheopportunitytoperformoriginalresearch.Youcanalsoexpecttocompleteand
defendadissertationbasedonyourresearch.Meaningthatyouneedtheabilitytoargue,butnot
onlythatyouneedtoresearchgooutonyourownandapplywhatyouknowtonewdiscoveries.
Astronomyisaverydifficultcareertogointo,itrequiresawealthofknowledge.In
specificitrequiresawealthofknowledgeinthefieldofmath,thefieldofthesciences,computer
programmingandcombiningalltheseintoaprofession.Astronomyhasinthelast
fifty
fifity

yearsalonehadchangedtremendouslyaddingtheusefulnessofcomputerintoit.Now
Astronomersneedtoknowtheirphysics,chemistry,andmathconceptsevenmoretokeepup
withtheeverchangingfieldofastronomy.Astronomyhaschangedagreatdealandwillcontinue
tobecomemorecomplicatedasitadvancescausingtheneedforevenmoreskills.

WorksCited

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