General Question

aaronb's avatar

What is an Astronomer?

Asked by aaronb (21points) October 2nd, 2008

What is an Astronomer? What does an Astronomer do? I’m working on a documentary on Astronomy at the moment and we’re constantly asking ourselves these questions.

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21 Answers

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Ummm, you are doing a documentary about astronomers and you don’t know what they do? I hope this wasn’t a hired job….

How in the world did this get a Great Question vote?

pjmowbs's avatar

I think the questioner is trying to get people’s opinion and pre-conceptions of an astronomer. I thought this was a place for people to give there personal insight not wikipedia?

bpeoples's avatar

This guy is a good resource:

@aaronb – if you want my opinion, id’ be good to ask for it =) Asking factual questions is probably not a good way to to get opinions. A better question would be “What do you think astronomers do?”

@pjmowbs – eh, sort of. Most people are coming here and asking factual questions, frequently looking for the wikipedia or google answers. Asking for opinions is strongly encouraged, but, you actually need to ask for opinions.

Anyway, there are several kinds of astronomers, the question is largely like asking “what does a lawyer do?” or “what does a physicist do?” —the field is so broad, that it really does range from some guy looking in a telescope to someone looking at raw numbers on a computer having nothing to do with the sky. Heck, the guys who study neutrinos could be considered astronmers, and they’re miles underground! =)

fireside's avatar

Sedentary Explorer of the Universe

Galactic Photographer

Cartographer of the Sky

Cosmic Philosopher

Please send a copy of the documentary in exchange for copyright usage : )

gailcalled's avatar

Observational Astronomer, Theoretical Astronomer, Cosmologist, Radio Astronomer, x-ray
Astronomer, Planetary Astronomer, just for starters. Google all.

Some specialize in planetary rings, galactic evolution, black holes, binary stars (8 or so subspecies there alone) variable stars, black holes, white and brown dwarfs, spectrography, interstellar stuff, dark matter. It’s not a simple matter.

gailcalled's avatar

Only astronomers can really answer this question. Everyone else is speculating.

eatmunky's avatar

Simply put an astronomer studies everything not on earth. But like bpeoples said that’s a huge range of things. So an astronomer is someone who studies something in space, but that could be planets, starts, the motions of galaxies, black holes, etc. Astrophysicists tend to study more in depth about these things. But it’s like trying to compare psychiatrists and psychologists. Astrophysicists do more mathematical studies, and are searching for exact truths, where as an astronomer is more of a very astute and well educated observer. They make observations rather than theories.

For example, an astronomer would tell you that a star is orbiting a black hole, but an astrophysicist would tell you how, and try to explain why.

This is all based on my own experience in studying and reading about the subjects, but I’m pretty confident its accurate.

mvgolden's avatar

An astronomer is my father. He is a retired professor of Astrophysics. He taught intro physics and astronomy courses for most of his career. Although he spent a sabbatical working at Los Alamos Labs when I was a kid. There he was looking at nuclear reactions of stars.

gailcalled's avatar

A Planetary Geologist also studies things not on earth. See Dr. John Mustard*, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

*Disclaimer-friend of family

Malakai's avatar

A person who gets paid to study and track the position, movement and nature of celestial bodies.

That’s just an opinion.


gailcalled's avatar

@Malakai:That is only one type of Atronomer. See all the earlier answers^^

There are already accurate and detailed Ephemerides for the bodies in the solar system. That’s how accurate predictions the daily motions of moon, sun, planets, asteroids, comet , eclipses, occulations, etc are made.

Astronomical Ephemeris 2008

Malakai's avatar

Thank you.

Do you know what we do to nerds on the moon?

gailcalled's avatar

@Malaki: Nerds who live on the moon, or get transported there and mistreated?

Malakai's avatar

Both. Usually the latter.

fireside's avatar

Is it something like this?

bodyhead's avatar

We pull their pants down and they get spanked with moon rocks.

That’s what we do to nerds on the moon.

gailcalled's avatar

@fireside; a little too mature for me, and isn’t he Marvin the Martian and not the Moonman?

Malakai's avatar

@ fireside – No, not quite.

@bodyhead – Yes, exactly.

Fyrius's avatar

A miserable little pile of secrets.

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