Related topics: earth · nasa · planets · milky way · solar system

A new catalog of infrared dark clouds

Infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) are dark patches of cold dust and gas seen in the sky against the bright diffuse infrared glow of warm dust in our galaxy. These IRDCs, massive and rich in molecules, are natural sites for star ...

Martian moon's orbit hints at an ancient ring of Mars

Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos's unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets ...

Planet hunters discover new 'one in a million' Super-Earth

Astronomers at the University of Canterbury (UC) have found an incredibly rare new Super-Earth planet towards the centre of the galaxy. The planet is one of only a handful that have been discovered with both size and orbit ...

Ultra-diffuse galaxy VCC 1287 investigated in detail

Astronomers have probed an ultra-diffuse galaxy (UDG) known as VCC 1287 with the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI) in order to investigate its nature. The new results provide essential information about the galaxy's mass and ...

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Astronomer

An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.

Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using physical laws. Today, that distinction has mostly disappeared and the terms "astronomer" and "astrophysicist" are interchangeable. Professional astronomers are highly educated individuals who typically have a PhD in physics or astronomy and are employed by research institutions or universities. They spend the majority of their time working on research, although they quite often have other duties such as teaching, building instruments, or aiding in the operation of an observatory. The number of professional astronomers in the United States is actually quite small. The American Astronomical Society, which is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, has approximately 7,700 members. This number includes scientists from other fields such as physics, geology, and engineering, whose research interests are closely related to astronomy. The International Astronomical Union comprises almost 10,145 members from 70 different countries who are involved in astronomical research at the PhD level and beyond.

While the number of professional astronomers worldwide is not much larger than the population of a small town, there is a huge community of amateur astronomers. Most cities have amateur astronomy clubs that meet on a regular basis and often host star parties in their communities. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is the largest general astronomical society in the world, comprising both professional and amateur astronomers as well as educators from 70 different nations. Like any hobby, most people who think of themselves as amateur astronomers may devote a few hours a month to stargazing and reading the latest developments in research. However, amateurs span the range from so-called "armchair astronomers" to the very ambitious, who own science-grade telescopes and instruments with which they are able to make their own discoveries and assist professional astronomers in research.

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