Tyson, Neil Degrasse (Astronomer)

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tyson_neil_degrasse_2_300x300Neil deGrasse Tyson born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. He is currently 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. From 2006 to 2011, he 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!. Tyson will be hosting Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, a sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage television series starting March 2014.

Tyson was born as the second of three children in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, and was raised in the Bronx. His mother, Sunchita Marie (Feliciano) Tyson, was a gerontologist, and his father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, was a sociologist, human resource commissioner for the New York City mayor John Lindsay, and the first Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. His maternal grandparents were Puerto Rican.

Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science (1972–76) where he was captain of the wrestling team, and editor-in-chief of the school’s Physical Science Journal. Tyson had an abiding interest in astronomy since he was nine years old, following his visit to Pennsylvania and seeing the stars, saying “it looks like the Hayden Planetarium”. He obsessively studied astronomy in his teens, and eventually even gained some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of fifteen. Tyson recalls that “so strong was that imprint [of the night sky] that I’m certain that I had no choice in the matter, that in fact, the universe called me.”

Dr. Tyson’s research has focused on observations in cosmology, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, bulges, and stellar formation. He has held numerous positions at institutions including the 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 he authored for the magazine 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. Tyson’s column also influenced his work as a professor with The Great Courses.

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