February 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson Inspires with Space Science

Neil deGrasse TysonNeil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of America’s most in-demand experts on scientific matters.

Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will be hosting a new series, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, starting this March on the National Geographic Channel and the Fox Network. As an astrophysicist, Tyson studies the physical characteristics and chemical makeup of celestial bodies, such as stars and planets. He makes regular television appearances to teach people about astrophysics and encourage their interest in science. He is an expert at making difficult scientific ideas understandable to anyone. He also has been busy promoting the new Cosmos show, which is a sequel to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The original Cosmos series was hosted by famous astronomer Carl Sagan and first broadcast in 1980.

As a child, Tyson used to go to the roof of the New York City apartment building where he lived and look at the moon through binoculars. He even gave lectures about the moon when he was only 15. Tyson graduated from the exclusive Bronx High School of Science in 1976. Carl Sagan was so impressed with his work that he asked him to attend Cornell University where Sagan was a professor. Instead, Tyson chose to go to Harvard. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1980.

After completing his doctorate degree in astrophysics at Columbia University in 1991, Tyson began working at the Hayden Planetarium. The planetarium is a part of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Tyson eventually became the planetarium’s first African American director. Many people know him as the man who “demoted” Pluto. He was one of the main scientists who determined that Pluto is a dwarf planet, not a true planet like Earth or Mars.

In filming the new Cosmos series, Tyson spent nine months in locations around the world, including Italy and Iceland. One scene was filmed on a set that recreated a New York City street. Special effects were used to show how people would get around if there was no gravity. One of Tyson’s main goals in hosting Cosmos is to stimulate people’s curiosity about the workings of the universe. He also wants to convince more people of the importance of science to America’s future.

Image credit: ©FOX via Getty Images
Question 1
Which classic science show has Neil deGrasse Tyson helped bring back to television?

Question 2
How did Neil deGrasse Tyson "demote" Pluto?

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