Neil deGrasse Tyson in as American astrophysicist, who also hosted Nova ScienceNow, an educational science show, on PBS from 2006 to 2011.
Tyson was born in Manhattan, New York to gerontologist Sunchita Feliciano Tyson and sociologist Cyril deGrasse Tyson, but was raised in the Bronx. After a visit to the Hayden Planetarium (where he is now the director) at the age of 9, he became obsessed with astronomy and later in his life (1972 – 1976) attended the Bronx High School of Science with emphasis on astrophysics. He got his Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy at Harvard (despite Carl Sagan’s efforts to recruit him to Cornell) University) in 1980 and carried on to a post-graduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin.Tyson’s career saw him through a number of positions at educational facilities around the country, including the University of Maryland, Princeton and the American Museum of Natural History. He gained recognition from the US Government multiple times, including his appointment by George W. Bush to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry in 2001 and to the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy in 2004.
Later that year, Tyson received a NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor to ever be bestowed by NASA.
Tyson gained a degree of infamy for being against Pluto being referred to as the 9th planet, mainly in the form of hate mail from children. He defended himself by saying that he wants to go deeper than just counting planets and in 2006 the International Astronomical Union reclassified the planet as a dwarf. A few eyebrows were raised after Tyson criticized the theory of intelligent design (creationism), but he defended himself by saying he is agnostic.
Outside of science, Tyson is best known for his wine collection, which made the pages of the May 2000 issue of the Wine Spectator and the Spring 2005 issue of The Wolrd of Fine Wine.
2001 Medal of Excellence, Columbia University, New York City
2004 NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal
2007 Klopsteg Memorial Award winner
2009 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award from the Space Foundation for significant contributions to public awareness of space programs
2009 Isaac Asimov Award from the American Humanist Association