This interview was originally aired on May 20, 2007.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an African American astrophysicist and, since 1996, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History worldview. Tyson has written a number of popular books on astronomy. In 1995, he began to write the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine. In a column for the magazine he authored in 2002, Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” to describe the two days annually on which the evening sun aligns with the cross streets of the street grid in Manhattan, making sunset visible along unobstructed side streets. In 2004, he hosted the four-part “Origins” miniseries of PBS’s Nova, and co-authored, with Donald Goldsmith (renowned California astronomer and science writer/professor) the companion volume for this series, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution.
As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson bucked traditional thinking to keep Pluto from being referred to as the ninth planet in exhibits at the center. He has stated on “The Colbert Report” that this decision has resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union confirmed this assessment by downgrading Pluto to “dwarf planet” classification. Tyson is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Planetary Society, where he was formerly the vice president. He is the new host of the PBS program NOVA scienceNOW.