Astrophysicist and Director, Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History
A childhood glimpse of the Moon through binoculars helped steer Neil deGrasse Tyson towards his lifelong passion for science, space exploration, and unraveling the universe's far flung mysteries. Eventually, that closer look at another world also led Neil to his role on The Planetary Society's Board of Directors, serving first as Vice President for three years and now as Chairman of the Board.
An astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil remains close to his hometown roots in New York City where he graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. Neil earned his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.
While Neil has focused his early research primarily on stellar evolution and galactic structure, he has also devoted considerable energy to educating the public. Neil recently hosted the four-part television series Origins on PBS and has written numerous books on the universe and humanity's place within it, including his own memoir, The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist. Neil is also a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine with the column, "Universe."
Neil's professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way, working with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Andes Mountains of Chile.
In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Neil to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.
In 2004, Neil was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a commission, this time focusing on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" commission.
A man of many parts, Neil not only has had an asteroid named after him - 13123 Tyson - but also was voted the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People magazine in 2000!
It was a grand night at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. CEO Bill Nye led the Planetary Society’s 35th anniversary party with guests including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Deputy NASA Administrator Dava Newman. We present a very brief sampling of the celebration.