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Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson has been a research associate in the department of astrophysics since 2003.
Born in Manhattan, New York City, Tyson became interested in astronomy at the age of nine after a visit to the Hayden Planetarium. After graduating from The Bronx High School of Science, where he was editor-in-chief of the Physical Science Journal, he completed a bachelor's degree in physics at Harvard University in 1980. After receiving a master's degree in astronomy at theUniversity of Texas at Austin in 1983, he earned his master's (1989) and doctorate (1991) in astrophysics from Columbia University. For the next three years, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University, and in 1994, he joined the Hayden Planetarium as a staff scientist and the Princeton faculty as a visiting research scientist and lecturer. In 1996, he became director of the planetarium and oversaw its $210 million reconstruction project, which was completed in 2000.
From 1995 to 2005, Tyson wrote monthly essays in the "Universe" column for Natural History magazine, some of which were published in his book Death by Black Hole (2007). During the same period, he wrote a monthly column in Star Date magazine, answering questions about the universe under the pseudonym "Merlin". Material from the column appeared in his booksMerlin's Tour of the Universe (1998) and Just Visiting This Planet (1998). Tyson was appointed to a 2001 government commission on the future of the U.S. aerospace industry, and to the 2004 Moon, Mars, and Beyond commission, which assessed how to implement the country's space exploration policy. The same year, he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. From 2006 to 2011, he hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS. Since 2009, he has hosted the weekly radio show Star Talk. In 2014, he hosted the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a reboot of Carl Sagan's 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.