tweetie_brid wrote:Are there any horror stories out there of being up at 4am to watch stellar phenomenal?
Or getting up at dawn to watch Mars rise?
All stories of watching 'steller phenomenal' involve being up at 4am. And yes, all PhD's in astrophysics are required to watch Mars rise, each morning. You are required to present this during your thesis defense.
Lol observing is one of those biggest misconceptions out there. If you think you're out in the desert watching the night sky, think again. You are literally looking at black dots against a white background (or some variant of it), and hunting for that one speck that seems to be changing with time. If you're not detail-oriented you need to get the hell away from observational astronomy.
If long hours don't interest you then you should not be applying for a PhD in any field of physics. I've run into many a person in all those sub-fields in their labs at the wee hours of the morning- sure often you don't, but the payoff for not working a 9-5 job is sometimes you must put in a lot of effort to solve something tricky and/or intensive.
I honestly also don't think any of these fields are "easier" or "harder" when it comes to the PhD level, what matters more is what comes more intuitively to you and what you find most interesting.
It occurs to me that a researcher once said that research work tend to deal more with computations, programming, and most of all, debugging. The data is shared among members via net, what "physicists" or "astronomers" need to do is construct models, do the calculation, and check the results. I am not sure about this and have not yet done any work that deserves being called research, but I think it makes sense.