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Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958)

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  Summary  

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, a science communicator, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2006 he has hosted the educational science television show NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy!. It was announced on August 5, 2011 that Tyson will be hosting a new sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage TV series.

  Biography  

 early life
Tyson was born in New York City as the second of three children. His father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, was a sociologist and human resource commissioner for New York City mayor John Lindsay. His mother, Sunchita Feliciano Tyson, was a gerontologist. Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science (1972–1976, astrophysics emphasis) where he was captain of the wrestling team and was editor-in-chief of the school's Physical Science Journal. Tyson had an abiding interest in astronomy from a young age—and obsessively studied it in his teens—eventually even gaining some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of 15.

Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a faculty member at Cornell University, tried to recruit Tyson to Cornell for undergraduate studies. During an interview with writer Daniel Simone , Tyson said, "Interestingly, when I applied to Cornell, my application dripped of my passion for the study and research of the Universe. Somehow the admissions office brought my application to the attention of the late Dr. Sagan, and he actually took the initiative and care to contact me. He was very inspirational and a most powerful influence. Dr. Sagan was as great as the universe, an effective mentor." But Tyson chose to attend Harvard University, where he majored in physics. He was a member of the crew team in his freshman year, but returned to wrestling, eventually lettering in his senior year. Tyson earned a Bachelors of Arts in physics from Harvard in 1980 and began his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Master of Arts in astronomy in 1983. In addition to wrestling and rowing in college, he was also active in dancing in styles including jazz, ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin Ballroom. In 1985, he won a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team at a national tournament in the International Latin Ballroom style. He started to work towards a doctorate at UT, but transferred to Columbia University in 1988 after they dissolved his committee. At Columbia University, in 1989, he received a Master of Philosophy in astrophysics and, in 1991, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in astrophysics.

 career
Tyson's research has focused on observations in stellar formation and evolution as well as cosmology and galactic astronomy. He has held numerous positions at institutions including University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium.

Tyson has written a number of popular books on astronomy. In 1995, he began to write the "Universe" column for Natural History magazine. In a column for the magazine he authored in 2002, Tyson coined the term "Manhattanhenge" to describe the two days annually on which the evening sun aligns with the cross streets of the street grid in Manhattan, making the sunset visible along unobstructed side streets.

In 2004, he hosted the four-part "Origins" miniseries of PBS's Nova, and co-authored with Donald Goldsmith the companion volume for this series, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution. He again collaborated with Goldsmith as the narrator on the documentary 400 Years of the Telescope which premiered on PBS in April 2009.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and in 2004 to serve on the President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, the latter better known as the "Moon, Mars and Beyond" commission. He was soon afterward awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by NASA.

As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson bucked traditional thinking to keep Pluto from being referred to as the ninth planet in exhibits at the center. Tyson has explained that he wanted to look at commonalities between objects, grouping the terrestrial planets together, the gas giants together, and Pluto with like objects and to get away from simply counting the planets. He has stated on The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and BBC Horizon that this decision has resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children. In 2006, the I.A.U. confirmed this assessment by changing Pluto to the "dwarf planet" classification. Daniel Simone wrote of the interview with Tyson describing his frustration. "For a while, we were not very popular here at the Hayden Planetarium."

Tyson has been Vice-President, President, and Chairman of the board of the Planetary Society. He is also the host of the PBS program NOVA scienceNOW. He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposium on November 2006. In 2007, Tyson, who is known for his vibrant character, cheerful demeanor, and awe of the vastness of the universe itself, was chosen to be a regular on The History Channel's popular series The Universe.

In May 2009, he launched a one-hour radio talk show called StarTalk in which he co-hosted the show with comedienne Lynne Koplitz. The show was syndicated on Sunday afternoons on KTLK AM in Los Angeles and WHFS in Washington DC. The show lasted for 13 weeks, but was resurrected in December 2010 co-hosted with comedians Chuck Nice and Leighann Lord instead of Koplitz. The show is also available via the internet through a live stream or in the form of a podcast.

In April 2011, Tyson was the keynote speaker at the 93rd International Convention of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of the Two-year School. He and James Randi delivered a lecture entitled "Skepticism" which related directly with the convention's theme of "The Democratization of Information: Power, Peril and Promise".

 personal life
Tyson lives in Lower Manhattan with his wife and two children.

Tyson is a fine wine enthusiast whose collection was featured in the May 2000 issue of the Wine Spectator and the Spring 2005 issue The World of Fine Wine.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Neil deGrasse Tyson", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.