Neil deGrasse Tyson, born on October 5, 1958, is a renowned astrophysicist, planetary scientist, and author; he is also a science teacher to millions of people worldwide. In addition to being the director of the Hayden Planetarium, he has hosted numerous well-known, space-based science programs, such as “Cosmos” and “StarTalk.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson was born in Manhattan, on October 5, 1958, as one of three children, to an African American father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, and a Puerto Rican mother, Sunchita Marie Tyson. His mother was a gerontologist, while his father was the inaugural director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. He attended many New York City public schools before enrolling at the Bronx High School of Science.
As a young athlete, Tyson commanded the wrestling squad. And being an intelligent and curious man, he was captivated by astronomy and served as editor-in-chief of his school’s “Physical Science Journal.” In 1976, he graduated from high school. His interest in astronomy grew to obsession, and he learned everything he could about the subject. In 1980, he graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in physics. During his undergraduate years, he pursued his passion for wrestling and was also a brilliant dancer. In 1983, he completed his academic studies at the University of Texas, in Austin, and earned a master of arts in astronomy.
In 1986, he was appointed as an astronomy instructor at the University of Maryland. He remained there until 1987. The next year, he was accepted to Columbia University. In 1991, he was awarded a doctorate in astrophysics, following two years of intensive research. Professor R. Michael Rich, his advisor at Columbia University, assisted him in obtaining funding for his doctorate research from NASA and the ARCS Foundation. The scholarship enabled him to attend international conferences in Italy, Switzerland, Chile, and South Africa.
In 1995, Tyson began writing the column ‘Universe’ for the journal “Natural History,” which became quite successful. The magazine published a special edition titled “City of Stars” (2002), in which Tyson popularized the term ‘Manhattanhenge,’ which describes the two days of the year when the setting sun coincides with the Manhattan street grid. In 2001, U.S. President George Bush appointed Tyson as part of the 12-person group in the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry (C.F.U.S.A.I.). He played a crucial part in the 2002 publishing of the C.F.U.S.A.I.’s final report, which featured suggestions for the government for future optimization of space exploration and national security.
In 2004, he was reappointed by President Bush to a nine-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy. A few years later, the NASA administrator selected him to the organization’s Advisory Council. Also in 2004, he hosted the four-part NOVA miniseries titled “Origins.” He also co-wrote “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution,” with Donald Goldsmith, as a companion volume to the miniseries. In November 2006, Tyson spoke at the “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival” symposium. He became a regular cast member in the History Channel series “The Universe.” In 2009, he worked with Donald Goldsmith as the narrator for the P.B.S. program “400 Years of the Telescope.” Currently, he holds the position of Frederick P. Rose, Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. He is also a research associate in the American Museum of Natural History’s astrophysics department. His videos on YouTube are also quite popular.
In 2014, he hosted the show “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” which he labeled a ‘continuation’ of astronomer Carl Sagan’s popular series “Cosmos” (1980). In 2015, Tyson hosted a television discussion show modeled on his radio program. He occasionally portrayed himself in films and on television, and he also voiced Weasel in the children’s animated film “Ice Age: Collision Course” (2016). Tyson has authored numerous books, including his newest, “Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going” (2021).
Neil deGrasse Tyson receives the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the agency's highest civilian decoration.
The Space Foundation awards him the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award for his substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of space missions.
Tyson is awarded the Isaac Asimov Prize, by the American Humanist Association.
Tyson claims the award for Best Reality Host, for his efforts on "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," which also won Best Reality Series.
Tyson dominates the Emmys, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special five consecutive times, for his television series “StarTalk.”
Why We Love Neil deGrasse Tyson
He is a certified genius
Nova Science Now was an educational news magazine that he hosted for several years, disseminating scientific knowledge to the audience. Over time, he became a well-liked science communicator, acquiring supporters in the United States and from around the globe.
He is a great teacher
Tyson is not only a terrific scientist but also an excellent presenter. His broad knowledge of several scientific subjects, sense of humor, eloquence, and presentation style contribute to his mass appeal. The tens of thousands of views on his YouTube videos are evidence of his popularity.
He doesn't forget his roots
He has written countless publications and delivered numerous speeches on science and spirituality, for which he is renowned. As an African American, he holds strong beliefs regarding racial equality and social justice.
5 Surprising Facts
The sexiest astrophysicist alive
“People” magazine named this prominent astrophysicist the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive, in 2000.
He declared Pluto a dwarf planet
Tyson withdrew Pluto from the Hayden Planetarium's exhibition of planets, deeming it a dwarf planet.
He can be a film critic
Before "Titanic" was re-released to the public, Tyson directed filmmaker James Cameron to seek alterations to a sequence in which the stars were not correctly aligned.
He once considered becoming an exotic dancer
In 1985, he won a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team, which won the national Latin ballroom championship.
He loves broadway musicals
Tyson's all-time favorite Broadway musical is "Jesus Christ Superstar" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Neil deGrasse Tyson FAQs
Are Mike Tyson and Neil deGrasse Tyson related?
The legendary boxer Mike Tyson is not related to the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson.
What is Neil deGrasse Tyson's famous quote?
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s famous quote: “Whether or not it is possible to become exceptional at something, there is always room for improvement.”
Does Neil deGrasse Tyson have a Nobel Prize?
Neil deGrasse Tyson has not yet won a Nobel Prize.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s birthday dates