I am an 11th grade student interested in astronomy. As I am on my summer break I wish to do something productive which will broaden my knowledge on astronomy. Which university should I consider for the future?

Astronomy as a subject is gaining prominence across the world and the UAE is no exception. To meet enthusiasts, contact the Dubai Astronomy Group, which organises various astronomy-related events like outdoor observations, stargazing, meteor shower, expert talks, etc.

To be an astronomer you will need a degree in either astronomy or physics. Since astronomy contains a lot of physics, many universities now offer degrees in astrophysics, which combine physics and astronomy. The subject involves study of evolution of stars, how the stars and planets move through space, chemistry, physics and advanced math.

It is now possible to study fully accredited courses online which are not only accepted by universities but also get you credits.

While selecting a university you should check out the research opportunities available; whether the observatory is equipped with the latest technology; does the program have a particular focus like astrophysics; does it have an active astronomy club and where are its graduates employed. The litmus test for every university is where is the alumni employed and what are they engaged in.

Also read: Computer science or engineering: which is the better option?

Education in astronomy is offered at various campuses worldwide. Closer home, University of Sharjah offers astronomy as one of the applied streams for graduation. The Bachelor of Science (BSc) is in the field of Applied Physics and Astronomy. The American University of Sharjah offers specialisation in Astrophysics and Space Science. It is extremely well reputed and also contributes to the Emirates Space Program.

The top universities to study astronomy are the names you would expect: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, Caltech, Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge. Outside of the US and UK, the coveted names would include University of Tokyo, ETH Zurich, LMU and Technical University in Munich, NUS Singapore and EPFL, Lausanne.

Being a rather specialised field, salaries tend to be high, but job opportunities remain limited in this competitive field. Colleges and universities employed the majority of astronomers, while others worked for the federal government or in private research and development departments.

Sanjeev Verma is an international education counsellor. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.