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Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator who was the former host of the PBS show, Nova ScienceNow from 2006 to 2011. He is currently the host of his own weekly radio show and podcast, StarTalk. In 2014 he hosted Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on Fox and the National Geographic Channel, a sequel to Carl Sagan's 1980s television show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
Tyson was born as the second of three children in Manhattan, New York. His mother, Sunchita Maria Tyson, was a gerontologist for the U.S. Department of Health, and is of Puerto Rican descent. His father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, an African American, was a sociologist, human resource commissioner for New York City mayor John Lindsay, and the first Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Tyson's middle name, deGrasse, is from the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, who began life as Altima deGrasse in the British West Indies island of Nevis.
Tyson grew up in the Castle Hill neighborhood of The Bronx, and later in Riverdale. From kindergarten throughout high school, Tyson attended public schools, all in The Bronx: P.S. 36, P.S. 81, the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, and The Bronx High School of Science (1972–76) where he was captain of the wrestling team and editor-in-chief of the Physical Science Journal. He began his interest in astronomy at the age of nine after visiting the sky theater of the Hayden Planetarium. He recalls that "so strong was that imprint [of the night sky] that I'm certain that I had no choice in the matter, that in fact, the universe called me." During high school, Tyson attended astronomy courses offered by the Hayden Planetarium, which he called "the most formative period" of his life. He credited Dr. Mark Chartrand III, director of the planetarium at the time, as his "first intellectual role model" and his enthusiastic teaching style mixed with humor inspired Tyson to communicate the universe to others the way he did.