So you wanna be an astrophysicist? Try this route!
  1. Leave a well-paying NASA job to get a Ph.D.
  2. Begin studying solar CMEs ... while the sun is at solar minimum.
  3. Assessing how the web is kicking print media's butt, consider shifting career to ... journalism?
I suppose some explanation is necessary. I admit having to stop doing research so I could get a Ph.D. to do research sounds silly, but my Ph.D. really did kick up my access to do science. In many ways, a Ph.D. is like a union card. And starting coronal mass ejection (CME) work during the sun's boring cycle was 'mission-driven'-- because that's when STEREO was launched. Once CMEs start popping off, my tools are ready and built to use (and publically available as 's3drs' via SolarSoftware). Finally, yes, I'm considering shifting to science writing as a full-time position, admitably not for newspapers but within NASA.

In general I have a trifurcated career. Sure, I'm a kick-ass operations/programmer/manager 'service worker', but I'm also an awesome simulation/modeling expert and, yes, a brave and bold science writer. Perhaps the lesson to walk away from my choices is that, regardless of which path you choose in science, you're never closing off options, only opening them.

Alex, the daytime astronomer

The Daytime Astronomer, Tues&Fri here, via RSS feed, and twitter @skyday