Studying astronomy can be a challenging task, but it is an interesting and rewarding field.
Astronomy is hard to study because you need a good understanding of math and physics. The material can seem dry at times, and you will have to study topics like atomic physics for hours on end.
But don’t let this deter you! There are plenty of benefits that come with studying astronomy, such as getting your name in the academic world by publishing papers or teaching classes to future astronomers.
Plus there’s always the possibility that an asteroid could cause global extinction—you might want to know about that! Read our tips below if you’re interested in doing well in astronomy courses.
What is astronomy really about?
That sounds like a dumb question, but bear with us. Astronomy as an academic topic is a whole lot more complicated than setting up your telescope on a clear night!
Astronomy is the study of celestial objects like stars or galaxies; it deals with how they were formed, their structure and composition (how atoms are arranged in them), as well as motion over time through space.
But explaining all those things draws on several disciplines: namely physics, math, chemistry. There’s also plenty of computer programming, especially in advanced courses.
Is there a lot of math in astronomy?
Yes, astronomy uses a great deal of math. It is necessary to describe the physical laws that govern how objects move and interact, so you can use these principles to study their behavior.
Can I study astronomy without math?
No. Math is essential for studying astronomy in school, since math is a sort of universal language for physical sciences.
However, you can easily study astronomy as a hobby without math. That could include setting up a telescope and looking at the stars, or even going to astronomy lectures without getting into the technical details.
But to truly study astronomy, you’ll need to become comfortable with math.
Is is harder than chemistry?
Astronomy is not necessarily harder than chemistry, but it’s more multidisciplinary and therefore has more prerequisites for advanced classes. It’s actually close to impossible to be an astronomer without doing lots of chemistry-related subjects as well.
Is astronomy hard in high school?
Astronomy in high school is roughly as difficult as a high school physics class. That’s fairly hard for most of us, but also far easier than a college astronomy class!
For one thing, high school astronomy usually has simple prerequisites like algebra, trigonometry, and perhaps basic chemistry.
It’s also a slower pace and (generally) lower pressure than you’d find in even a basic, 100-level college class.
Is Astronomy 101 hard?
Astronomy 101 is usually hard because it requires a general understanding of physics and math, which liberal arts students in particular don’t always have. If you have a stronger STEM background, then it shouldn’t be too much to take on.
Introductory astronomy also brings up concepts and terminology that most students (regardless of background) have never encountered before.
Your mindset plays a huge role in the difficulty of Astronomy 101. Success requires a person to be able to see concepts, not just formulas and numbers. Learning the math has a low return for effort if you’re not willing to take time out of your day to think outside of what was given in class.
If you’re a straight-A math and physics student, basic astronomy won’t be too tough. But if you’ve struggled with math or physics, then it’s prudent to plan on extra tutoring sessions for astronomy to help you stay ahead of the curve. And it that class is a really painful experience, there are probably other science courses that would fulfill the same requirements!
How difficult is it to get a degree in astronomy?
Astronomy is difficult to major in because it makes such heavy use of traditionally hard, technical subjects. An astronomy degree is about as hard as a physics degree, since the two fields are related and overlap quite a bit.
Even the brightest and most diligent students will have plenty of late nights and stressful cram sessions during their astronomy studies. You could say it’s not for the faint of heart!
Tips for succeeding in your astronomy studies
Take your prerequisites seriously
Make sure you give your prerequisite courses your best effort, even if you find the material boring or difficult. These are your foundation courses, and could determine whether you can succeed in astronomy later.
After all, you’ll need a strong math and science foundation before considering astronomy as a major.
Studying astronomy can be challenging, but the rewards mount if you’re persistent and keep going. It might take studying the same information over and over to really get it.
Find a learning style that works for you
Everyone learns differently, so what’s difficult for you may come easy to your peers, or vice-versa! Don’t give up on something simply because it doesn’t make sense to you right away.
We know it’s cliché, but you hear this advice so often because it’s universally true!
If there are extracurricular clubs related to astronomy, research them as possibilities as well. Joining them may open up totally new experiences that help abstract classroom material “hit home.”
Conclusion: astronomy is hard…but worth it?
It’s obviously worth studying if you plan to teach or research astronomy in the future! That said, there are many astronomy-related careers that don’t require a formal background in astronomy—just an abiding interest and curiosity in the stars. Check out our guide to astronomy jobs if you’re curious to learn more.
With a heavy requirement in mathematics and science, it’s no surprise that some people find themselves struggling with this subject. However, if you’re still interested after reading about how hard studying astronomy can be, then that right there is a sign you should go for it.
Keep working hard on your astronomy studies, and you’ll be well-prepared to tackle new challenges later in life.