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Thread: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

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    Question Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?



    Hello.

    I'm a French student and I'm planning to go to the United States for a graduate program in astronomy.

    When I will arrive in the U.S. I will begin by the first year of graduate. Then I will pursue with a Ph.D. and some postdoctoral research.

    I would like to know which are the best American universities/colleges for what I want to do.

    Concerning what division of astronomy I am interested in:
    I'm not interested in the conception of telescopes, instruments and other systems. I'm not interested in engineering. And I'm not interested in extremely theoretical astronomy either.
    I'm interested in observational astronomy.

    Regarding what subfields of astronomy I am interested in:
    I'm not interested in extragalactic astronomy or cosmology.
    I'm interested in planetary astronomy, exoplanetology, exobiology, SETI, stellar astronomy in the solar neighborhood.
    I'm not interested in things that are less than 2 Astronomical Units or more than 70 light years away from us.

    Thanks in advance for your answers.

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    The University of California Berkley in Berkley, California comes to mind. The famous professor you may have seen on television, Dr. Alex Filippenko is a member of the faculty.

    Link to the Astronomy department
    Astronomy Department | University of California at Berkeley

    Link to the Physics/AstrophysicsCosmology department
    Astrophysics | UC Berkeley Physics

    Another school comes to mind is CalTech in Pasadena, California. The famous planetary scientist Dr. Mike Brown is a member of the faculty.
    Caltech Astronomy
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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Hello sir I have one question..
    Now i do an electrical engineering in india, and i also interested in astronomy. so after my engineering i can go in this university for study about the astronomy? Please give me an answer about it....
    Harshil.


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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Graduate school is all about a very personal relationship you have with your boss. Choose him carefully because he'll make or break your career. So, it would be nice to have somebody who challenges you to do well, but who can help to get you out of difficulty when things seem to be going badly. Of course it may be a priceless feather in your cap if he is a star in the field you choose. But, an even better choice is to find somebody who is at the start of a rising tide, whether that's based on new technology or new ideas.

    With those points in mind, choosing the individual may be more important than choosing the institution. Therefore you want to do your own research in the field you are interested in and then zero down on who might be a good choice. Attend a few conferences, look at posters, and talk to grad students standing beside their work. They'll know, though they may not share personal impressions with a stranger. It's my bias that you shouldn't jump into grad school until you have a well defined idea of your field and your chosen preceptor.

    As far as specific advice, I'd be surprised if you will find much detail from a forum like this. Recently I did an online course through Coursea, "The science of the solar system", which gave me a pretty good idea about Mike Brown and his work. I was impressed, though you'd need to do more investigation before jumping onto that bus. Popular and high profile people like Mike will have hundreds of grad student applicants, so it may be easier to find an opening beside somebody who is less well know.
    Dave

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Thank you sir....
    Harshil.


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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    I wish you students the best of luck in pursuing a degree and career in astronomy! When I came of age, the post-Apollo glow was still in the air, and there were far too many PhD's for the jobs available in the field. Consequently, I gave up on the idea and ended up in an career that enables me to care for self and family, but does not feed my soul.

    Good luck and best wishes!
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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    There are many good ones...the usual suspects?

    Caltech.
    Harvard.
    UC.

    Not quite on that plane? The University of Texas has a fine program.
    Uncle Rod

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Quote Originally Posted by spelunkerd View Post
    Graduate school is all about a very personal relationship you have with your boss. Choose him carefully because he'll make or break your career. So, it would be nice to have somebody who challenges you to do well, but who can help to get you out of difficulty when things seem to be going badly. Of course it may be a priceless feather in your cap if he is a star in the field you choose. But, an even better choice is to find somebody who is at the start of a rising tide, whether that's based on new technology or new ideas.
    This is very wise advice. I cannot say enough how important that relationship would be. Of course as a first year student it is hard to know whom you might be finishing with. However you must be fearlessly prepared to jump ship and move on if your initial choice is incompatible, unhelpful, or obstructive. Some species devour their young.

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Not sure what the consensus here on the board is, but I'll at least put in a plug for the University of Arizona Graduate Program in Astronomy. Tucson has a thriving amateur astronomer community, and the university has some good programs associated with nearby observatories. Mt Lemmon is ~40 miles from campus, Kitt Peak is just over an hour's drive away, and some very, very dark skies are less than 4 hours away in the mountains of New Mexico.

    That said, what not_Fritz mentioned is absolutely key. The relationship with one's adviser will make or break a graduate experience.

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galaxieman View Post
    That said, what not_Fritz mentioned is absolutely key. The relationship with one's adviser will make or break a graduate experience.
    Thanks. One tip would be when interviewing a prospective advisor ask questions about his experience as a graduate student. Some folks pass on the bad habits of their own advisor and hand down the obnoxious behaviors they learned from their mentor. Interview the current students of the advisor and get a feel for how the advisor works.

 

 
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