Born and raised in New York City, he realized he wanted to study space science when he was young, looking through a pair of binoculars at the moon. Visiting the Old Hayden Planetarium at the age of nine, he was first introduced to the stars. However, in Neil's neighborhood, "being smart is not on the list of things that gets you respect," he recalls. African-American boys were expected to be athletes, not scholars.
At thirteen, he attended summer astronomy camp in the Mohave Desert. There, he could see millions of stars in the clear desert sky. Neil deGrasse Tyson was educated in the public school system and attended the Bronx High School of Science. After graduation, he went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard, where he also rowed on the crew team and joined the wrestling team. After earning a Master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, he went home to New York to do his doctoral work at Columbia and earn his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia University.
After earning his doctorate, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson has worked as an astrophysicist and research scientist at Princeton University, as a columnist for Stardate magazine, and, from 1996, as the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City (the youngest director in the long history of the planetarium). His association with Princeton continues, where he is a Visiting Research Scientist in astrophysics and also teaches.
Dr. Tyson published the first of six books on astronomy and astrophysics in 1988. His research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. To conduct his research, he uses telescopes all over the world as well as the Hubble Space Telescope.
He has also continued to write prolifically for the public, including a series of essays in Natural History magazine as well as the books "One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos" (coauthored with Charles Liu and Robert Irion) and a Q&A book on the universe for all ages titled "Just Visiting This Planet." "One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos" was the winner of the 2001 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award to a Scientist. His most recent book was a memoir, "The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist."
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is married with two children. The Tyson family resides in New York City. Dr. Tyson's interests include collecting fine wines, wrestling, and studying the stars.
In 2001, He was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. In 2004, Dr. Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" commission. Recommendations from this group formed the foundation for President Bush's new space vision.
Dr. Tysons contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos were recently recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid "13123 Tyson." He was also voted "Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive" in the November 14, 2000 People Magazine, which is their annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue.