Astronomers study the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact. Theoretical astronomers may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. Physicists and astronomers in applied fields may develop new military technologies or new sources of energy, or monitor space debris that could endanger satellites.
Astronomers study planets, stars, galaxies, and other celestial bodies. They use ground-based equipment, such as radio and optical telescopes, and space-based equipment, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. With these they make observations and collect data on the motions, compositions, and other properties of the objects they study. Some astronomers focus their research on objects in our own solar system, such as the sun or planets. Others study distant stars, galaxies, and phenomena such as neutron stars and black holes, and some monitor space debris that could interfere with satellite operations.
Astronomers do basic research with the aim of increasing scientific knowledge. These researchers may attempt to develop theories that better explain what gravity is or how the universe works or was formed.
Astronomers and physicists typically work on research teams with engineers, technicians, and other scientists. Some senior astronomers and physicists may be responsible for assigning tasks to other team members and monitoring their progress. They may also be responsible for finding funding for their projects and therefore may need to write applications for research grants.