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

Image: Hubble sees cosmic clues in a galactic duo

This spectacular image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures the spiral galaxy NGC 105, which lies roughly 215 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. While it looks like NGC 105 is plunging edge-on ...

Video: How to kick a pulsar out of the galaxy

Pulsars are neutron stars. They are formed when an old star explodes as a supernova, so you would expect to find them in the center of its supernova remnant. But not always. Astronomers have learned that some pulsars are ...

Giant NASA telescope to open new vistas of space

A giant telescope to be launched into space this week will be the biggest ever and will orbit around the sun about 1 million miles from the Earth. It will be able to capture the farthest depths of the universe ever achieved ...

Image: Hubble views a galaxy with an explosive past

In this image, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures a side-on view of NGC 3568, a barred spiral galaxy roughly 57 million light-years from the Milky Way in the constellation Centaurus. In 2014 the light from a supernova ...

Giant stars and the ultimate fate of the sun

Astronomers have a new tool to help them understand giant stars. It's a detailed study of the precise temperatures and sizes of 191 giant stars. The authors of the work say that it'll serve as a standard reference on giant ...

Studying cosmic expansion using methods from many-body physics

It is almost always assumed in cosmological calculations that there is a even distribution of matter in the universe. This is because the calculations would be much too complicated if the position of every single star were ...

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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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