Getting to know Degrasee Tyson

Early Years and Studies

Of Puerto Rican and African American descent, and born in Manhattan, New York in 1958, Neil Degrasse Tyson studies and lectures in the fields of Physical Cosmology and Astrophysics. He was born into a family of academics as his mother Sunchita Maria worked for the U.S. Department of Health as a gerontologist and his father Cyril was a sociologist who at one stage worked for the Mayor of New York. He went through the public-school system in the Bronx.

Later Studies

He gained his A.B. at Harvard College, his M.A at the University of Texas at Austin and his M. Phil and Ph D at Columbia University. In 1991, his thesis was produced on A Study of the Abundance Distributions Along the Minor Axis of the Galactic Bulge.


Throughout his career he has been influenced by many leading scientists. These include Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman.


He has received several awards for the work he has carried out including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, The Klopsteg Memorial Award, and the Public Welfare Medal.

Working Life

Tyson has had a variety of jobs starting in 1994 at the Hayden Planetarium while still at Princeton, and within 2 years was Director. As well as overseeing the reconstruction of the planetarium he was writing magazine articles for Natural History magazine. President G.W. Bush selected Tyson to sit on the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry and later the Presidents Commission on the Implementation of the U.S. Space Exploration Policy. It was for this work he was honoured by NASA. By 2004 he and Donald Goldsmith wrote “14 Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution”

More Recent Activities

He spoke against the views of many prominent scientists and insisted Pluto was not the 9 th planet, and has appeared on numerous T.V. shows discussing this viewpoint. His current project is the production of a video game called Space Oddity which will be partly educational