So, you want to do research in astronomy?
Read on to learn more about careers in astronomy, and how to decide whether you want to get a Ph.D. If you are interested in joining STAR Labs, you should go read up about our research. Then scroll to the bottom of this page and see what skills our group members usually posses. Whether you are an undergraduate student looking for research opportunities or a prospective Ph.D. student, it helps to have a few of these skills under your belt. Our Ph.D. admissions follow the standard IIT Bombay and Physics department procedures. If you are interested in a postdoctoral position, contact Varun Bhalerao directly.
Careers in Astronomy:
How to be an astronomer? - IUCAA's page about astronomy options in India
So you want to be a professional astronomer! - a nice, short introduction to career options in Astronomy, by Duncan Forbes
Careers in astronomy - a twenty page PDF from the American Astronomical Society that goes into details about various astronomy jobs, required skills, etc
Getting a Ph. D.
My thesis co-advisor Shri Kulkarni has some tips and instructions for those applying to Caltech. The same tips apply to most grad school applications.
Two thorough articles on what grad school is like: How to Be a Good Graduate Student by Marie desJardins, and the more recent "So long, and thanks for the Ph.D.!" by Ronald T. Azuma. Both articles are written from a computer science perspective, but the lessons are relevant everywhere!
Go ahead, take a year-long drop if you want to: good advice from astrobites.org
The STAR Lab skillset
Members of our group have a variety of skills. If you are interested in joining us, it will be useful to know a few of these:
You should know a bit about stars, galaxies, and the universe (reading "A brief history of time" does not count). You could have read a textbook, been a part of astronomy olympiads, or be an avid amateur astronomer.
If you want to build up your skills, you can start off with checking out Astronomy Picture of the Day regularly. Follow the trail of links, and read up more information about various topics on Wikipedia. Next, you can start reading astrobites.org regularly. This is a group of graduate students around the world, who summarise the latest astronomy papers in an undergraduate-accessible manner. Finally, you should pick up a standard textbook!
We work a lot with python, especially astropy, numpy and matplotlib. There are a lot of good resources online. Astropy tutorials are a good place to start. Then you can head over to the GROWTH Winter School resources - a collection of videos and python notebooks based on a school we held at IIT Bombay in 2018. Knowledge of databases, flask, and shell scripting are added bonuses.
We develop hardware, and that means our group members need to have engineering skills in addition to a background in astrophysics. Our members have worked on topics like computer aided design, finite element analysis, optical design, electronics, FPGA coding, etc.