Who is the astronomer
An astronomer is a researcher who investigates celestial objects interpreting cosmic phenomena, establishing the physical environment in which Earth is situated, and elaborating the origin of the Universe itself and of its content by means of observations of cosmic structures and sources at remote distances in space and time.
Astronomers study astrophysics using the Universe as a laboratory, as it were, since its peculiar physical conditions and extreme phenomena are rarely reproducible on Earth.
Astronomical research is carried out with the experimental method of modern science, through reproducible and repeatable experiments and observations, making use not only of all present mathematical and physical knowledge, but also of notions of chemistry, geology and biology. Advanced engineering techniques (notably mechanics, optics, electronics for space activities) and sophisticated statistics and informatics procedures of data analysis are also widely implemented by the astronomer in his effort to understand the Universe.
To become a good astronomer though, it is not necessary to be an expert in all these fields. What is needed is a good basic preparation in mathematics and physics (this is provided in the first two years of the Degree in Astronomy) before advancing to the specific astrophysical applications discussed in the third year, in the second level Degree and in the Doctoral School.
Why choose a degree in Astronomy
Astronomy may be a passion due to the natural instinct of man to watch the beauty of the night sky and wonder about its origin and scope, but it is also much more.
It is a fundamental branch of Physics with which it shares the research methods, but to which also contributes with data on extremes stages of matter that on earth could never be obtained.
A degree in Astronomy thus provides the same basic formation in mathematics and physics, adding to it all the applications to the analysis of cosmic sources that are its carachteristics, with the use of highly sophisticated technologies in the fields of statistics, informatics and engineering.
It is not surprising therefore that many of our post-graduates in the last 20 years have found positions of high professional level in industrial and research institutions even if not directly connected to Astronomy.
Why in Padova
Historically Padova is the most important astronomical site for various reasons related partly to the well known fact that Galileo Galilei performed his first observations in 1609 from his garden in Padova, and taught at the University, and more recently to the presence at the Astrophysical Observatory of Asiago of the largest telescopes on Italian soil. Furthermore:
- The Department of Astronomy of the University of Padova is today the largest in Italy.
- The teaching quality is enhanced by the close collaboration with the nearby Astronomical Observatory, one of the most important in Italy.
- Padova is the site of the Center of Studies and Activities for Space (CISAS), an inter-departmental coordination center for activities both scientific and technological which gives Padova an even more relevant position in the field of astrophysical inverstigations from space.
- The Department of Astronomy offers the most important Doctoral School of Astronomy in Italy, with 30/40 students every year in the various cycles, from Padova and from many other Italian and foreign Universities.
- The Department of Astronomy is an active member of EARA European Association for Research in Astronomy, promoting the astronomical formation and exchange of researchers in Europe.
The offer in degree courses, post-graduate and post-doc positions is therefore very extensive and articulate, with the use of advanced instrumentation and specialized laboratories on site.
What you shall learn
At the end of the Astronomy courses you shall have an extensive knowledge of the mathematical intruments needed to interpret phenomena in classical, theoretical and quantum physics; a sure command of the fundamental notions of astronomy and astrophysics; a good experience in laboratory techniques and in the use of optical telescopes (with observational actvity at the instruments in Asiago), of space probes and radiotelescopes, with the implementation of dedicated software for data analysis, and lastly you shall have acquired the use of a foreign language.
The natural aim of an astronomer is to find a position in academic teaching and/or scientific research. To achieve this it is necessary to complete all level of courses including the Doctoral School.
On the other hand it is possible to find a job after a first level degree, for example in the field of informatics or in optics and space industries.
The second level degree in Astronomy gives access to research activities at university departments, astronomical observatories, national research institutions (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, etc.) and international Institutions like ESO, ESA, NASA, etc.
It also gives the possibility to find employment in industries developing space activities, optical instrumentation, data transmission and elaboration, not only for astronomy but, among others, for biology or medicine.