Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Building a career path in astronomy

Working with the telescopes of the physics department, I have been able to build up the interest of students to astronomy. Some students even say, “Let’s shift to physics” after seeing what we do with the scopes. Although it is very much interesting, a lot of students are still intimidated by the science and math side of such a course. Most of the time people just don’t really know how to go about in astronomy.

For the Philippines, astronomy is not well known – unfortunately. Also, being in an archipelago affects the flow of information so people outside Manila have lesser chances of knowing about astronomy.

I’ve been interested in astronomy since elementary school that I’ve decided to take astronomy when I get to college. Since there was no BS Astronomy course offered anywhere that I knew I took the next big thing – Physics. In astronomy (professional) you have to have a good background in physics, also you should be good in math or in database programming, so taking physics was a logical step.

Fortunately my professors at Silliman University were enthusiastic about my interest in astronomy (I was even called ‘astroboy’). It took some time though before I decided to have a serious path in astronomy. I began making contacts with people in Manila: Dr. Cynthia Celebre of PAGASA, James Kevin TY of Astronomical League of the Philippines; Erika Valdueza of UP Astrosoc. I also contributed to the Philippine Journal of Astronomy. I took my OJT at PAGASA Dumaguete. It was not till my 3rd year in college that I heard of RTU and its BS Astronomy technology and MS Astronomy programs. Having heard that, I was glad since I wouldn’t have to worry about which school abroad should I look for in going into astronomy.

Later, I joined the IYA 2009 Astronomy Olympiad just to test myself on how far I’ve gotten with astronomy. With no teacher to advice me, I turned to books. Luckily, Silliman has the biggest library so I had a good number of books to assist me. I joined the competition and was surprised that I actually won (books rule! ).

Currently I am working on finishing my undergraduate studies then I plan to go to Mandaluyong and take up MS Astronomy. I continue to keep myself connected with people who are linked to Philippine Astronomy.

I plan to take a career path in research astronomy (hopefully in the Keck observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii).