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Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astrophysics is all about heavenly bodies.

Q: I am a student studying in the 11th standard. I would like to know in detail about Institutes in India that offer courses in astronomy or astrophysics. I shall be grateful if you could also furnish information about the selection process, eligibility criteria and job prospects. - A.J. Nachikethas, Thrissur and S. Shinu, Pathanapuram

A: Astronomy or Astrophysics is one of the better options for higher studies at the post-graduate degree level. But first, you should pass the Plus Two examinations with good marks and take Physics as the main subject for B.Sc.

Those who pass BSc. degree with top marks could choose Astronomy or Astrophysics for their master's degree.

Astronomy is the science of the heavenly bodies. It is one of the oldest sciences and now involves the use of very sophisticated methods of detecting and interpreting information on planets, stars and galaxies and their relative motions.

Astrophysics is a branch of Physics that deals with the physical or chemical properties of heavenly bodies. Astrophysics focuses on the creation of energy and its dissipation within the universe. After the successful completion of the master's degree, one should go for research leading to Ph.D. which enables one to become an astronomer/astronaut/astrophysicist or a scientist/research officer, etc. in the field of space research.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Space Physics Laboratories, Space Applications Centres, etc. are the major establishments providing job opportunities to those holding higher degrees/doctorates in these disciplines.

A high level of intelligence, Mathematical ability, research skill and computer proficiency are some of the personal qualities required for a career in Space Sciences/Research.

In Kerala, the School of Pure and Applied Physics under the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, offers M.Sc. Physics with Astrophysics as a specialisation. Minimum eligibility prescribed for admission is B.Sc. Physics with 55 per cent marks.

Some other universities offering Astronomy/Astrophysics at the M.Sc. level are the Osmania University, Hyderabad - 500 007 (M.Sc. Astronomy, M.Sc. Astrophysics) and Swami Ramanand Teerth Marthwada University, Dhyanteerth, Gautami Nagar, Vishnupuri, Nanded - 431 606, (MSc. Astrophysics).

The Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Bangalore, provides research facilities in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Those who have M.Sc. degree in the respective disciplines with high marks and qualify for Junior Research Fellowships of the University Grants Commission (UGC) - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are eligible for admission to Ph.D. programmes.

The IISC also offers first class B.Sc. Physics Graduates the opportunity to study for an integrated Ph.D. programme in Physical Sciences. The admission is based on entrance test and interview. Admission notification can expected during January/February every year.

Some major research institutes offering PhD. programmes in Astronomy, Astrophysics and other related areas are:

Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, (Astronomy & Astrophysics).

Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, (Astrophysics).

Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, (Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics).

National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Pune, (Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics).

Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, (Physics, Atmospheric & Space Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics)

Raman Research Institute, Bangalore (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai (Atmospheric & Space Science)

Those who have obtained masters degree in the respective disciplines with high marks could appear for the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) for admission to the above Ph.D. programmes.

Some other good higher studies options for B.Sc. Physics and Mathematics graduates are M.Sc. Meteorology, M.Sc. Nuclear Physics, M.Sc. Space Physics, etc.

The Cochin University of Science and Technology - M.Sc. Metrology course and M.Tech Atmospheric Science course.

Kurukshetra University, Haryana - M.Sc. Atmospheric Science.

Karnataka University, Dharward - M.Sc. Atomic and Molecular Physics and M.Sc. Nuclear Physics

Andhra University, Visakhapatanam - M.Sc. Meteorology, M.Sc. Nuclear physics and M.Sc. Space physics

Manon Maniam Sundaranar University, Tirunalveli - M.Sc. Nuclear physics.

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Chenai also offer M.Sc. Physics programmes. The IIT Kanpur also conducts a M.Sc.-Ph.D. (dual degree) programme in Physics.

Graduates in physics with high marks are eligible to appear for the Joint Admission Test (JAM), which is conducted by the IIT Roorkee.


Q: I have completed my degree in Travel and Tourism Management. I would like to go for Master of Tourism Management (MTM). I have learnt that the Madurai Kamaraj University offers a regular MTM course. But I am also told that the course is not recognised by the Kerala University. Are not all regular courses of all universities recognised ones? - Jagadeesh Nair, Thiruvananthapuram.

A: Tere is no clear-cut formula or specific norms for giving recognition to various degrees/certificates at the university level. Recognition is given on reciprocal basis considering the course syllabus/curriculum, duration, examination pattern, etc.

At present neither the departments/colleges under the Kerala University nor the affiliated colleges conduct an MTM course and do not award MTM degrees. Therefore, naturally, the Kerala University does not give recognition to this MTM degree.

At the same time, the University of Kerala offers the Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) programme that is more or less equivalent to the MTM programme.

As such, one could move to obtain recognition of the MTM degree by giving an application to prove that the course syllabus, duration of the examination, its pattern, etc. are equivalent to the MTA course offered by the Kerala University.

Information about the recognition procedure can be obtained from the academic section of the universities concerned.

The recognition problem mainly arises with regard to courses conducted through the distance education mode, open university scheme and off-campus education system.

Such degrees/certificates are sometimes not recognised for employment by the State Government/ Public Service Commission.

In these instances one should ascertain whether the degrees/certificates offered by the university in which you are going to study are recognised.

Recognition details can be had from the Academic Section of the universities in Kerala.

It is an accepted norm that if the degrees/certificates are recognised by any one of the universities

in Kerala, it would be considered for employment in the Government sector.

Approved university

Q. I have completed BSc. Physics. I would like to join an MCA course conducted by Punjab Technical University. Is this university approved by the UGC, AICTE and other Universities in India, including Cusat? - K. Meera Vasudevan, Ernakulam

A. Yes, this is a university recognized by the UGC, AICTE and Central Government and also a member to the Association of India Universities (AIU). Punjab Technical University (P.O. REC Jalandher - 144 011) also provides off-campus study facilities all over India.

Information on the recognition status of a university can be had from the Student Advisor, Association of Indian Universities, AlU House, 16, Kotlamarg, New Delhi - 110 002.


Author and career consultant based in Thiruvananthapuram

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