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I need to interview an astronomer.

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:16 -- Rick.Fienberg

The AAS does not give out names of astronomers. However, there's probably an astronomer near you. Check with your local community college, or four-year college or university, planetarium or science museum. Be sure to provide your name, school, and a specific description about your project. If you're working with time constraints some online interviews with astronomers are available.

I'm doing an astronomy project and I need help.

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:16 -- Rick.Fienberg

The AAS is not a reference library, however when we receive inquiries we will do our best to steer you toward reasonable sources of reliable information. We do not have regular staff dedicated to this, so do not rely on an immediate response. Such queries should be directed to There are many sources for school projects. Start with your school or local community library.

I'm in high school. How can I prepare for an astronomy career?

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:15 -- Rick.Fienberg

If you are a high school student who wants to become an astronomer, the best advice is to study hard. It's important to take a lot of academic classes in high school if you want a career in any of the sciences, so make sure you fit in four years of science, math, english, and social studies. You should read magazines like Sky and Telescope or Astronomy and follow the new developments in astronomy that make it into the news. Any readings or research that you do early on can only help you later.

What does it take to become an astronomer?

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:14 -- Rick.Fienberg

Most research astronomers have doctorate degrees in physics or astronomy and also bachelor's and/or master's degrees in a physical science, usually physics or astronomy. It takes about 10 years of education beyond normal high school education to become a research astronomer. Astronomers are usually comfortable with computers, both usage and programming in addition to being knowledgeable about basic science, especially physics. They also have extensive mathematical knowledge.

Can I buy a star?

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:06 -- Rick.Fienberg

There is no place where you can purchase a star. There are a few businesses which claim to sell or name stars, but the names they give are not recognized by anyone in the scientific community. Stars are named by the International Astronomical Union, headquartered in Paris, France. They are given numbers determined by their exact location in the sky. This system is organized so that it is most beneficial to the scientists that are studying them.

What's the difference between astronomy and astrology?

Mon, 2012-08-20 16:05 -- Rick.Fienberg

Astronomy is a science that studies everything outside of the earth's atmosphere, such as planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies; and the properties and relationships of those celestial bodies. Astronomers base their studies on research and observation. Astrology on the other hand, is the belief that the positioning of the stars and planets affect the way events occur on earth.

What exactly is astronomy?

Mon, 2012-08-20 15:53 -- Rick.Fienberg

Astronomy is a physical science concerned with the smallest particles and the largest natural objects. The name Astronomy comes from the Greek roots Astr- and -nomia to literally mean "name stars". Astronomy is the study of everything outside of the earth's atmosphere and their chemical and physical properties.

So how often do I have to write?

Fri, 2012-08-17 12:51 -- Joel.Parriott

For an issue to become important in a Congressional office, approximately five letters must arrive in a given week. This number is a bit larger for Senatorial offices. When an AAS Action Alert is sent out, we have heard from Congressional offices that many hundreds of letters (from AAS members only in several cases) have convinced the member of Congress to take action on the issue.

Why do I keep getting these "AAS Action Alerts" in my email?

Fri, 2012-08-17 12:49 -- Joel.Parriott

Occasionally, an action by government that could have a negative (or positive) impact on astronomy must be stopped (or supported). At these times, a rapid, grassroots-level action on the part of the AAS membership can create a truly positive result in Congress or in other areas of government.

When one of these times arrives, the Policy Fellow works with the Executive Officer and the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy creates an AAS Action Alert. This is then emailed to the appropriate sub-group of the AAS membership.

Besides funding, what else does the government do to either support or harm Astronomy?

Fri, 2012-08-17 12:48 -- Joel.Parriott

The government has other impacts on astronomy besides the obvious one of providing funds for research and research facilities. Policies on education, for example stipend levels allowed under research grants, or student loan tax credits are both set by the Government. Policies regarding land use can have an obvious impact on astronomy. Governmental panels can make decisions about how many federal agencies should fund astronomy. The Federal Communications Commission manages spectrum use and can have both helpful and harmful impacts on astronomy.


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