December 20, 2013

By Heather Johns

LEWISBURG, Pa. — He first noticed stars in the night sky in the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, when he was nine.

Forty-six years and 20 degrees later, astrophysicist, cosmologist and New York Times bestselling author Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose director at that same planetarium.

"After that first visit, I had no choice in the matter," said Tyson. "In retrospect, I'm quite sure it was the universe that chose me, and not I who chose it."

Tyson will speak at Bucknell University's Weis Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. A book signing will follow his lecture and Q&A with the audience. The event is free and open to the public. 

His talk is part of the ongoing Bucknell Forum series tech/no, which focuses on the evolution of technology's role in society, and its potential to impact the world in both positive and negative ways.

Tyson's relatability and active role in popular culture and social media are part of what helps him get the general public excited about physics, from a Tumblr inspired by his cosmic tie collection to his Twitter account, where he famously fact-checked the hit film Gravity.

His blend of intelligence and humor has made Tyson a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Jeopardy! andReal Time with Bill Maher. It may have also helped Tyson garner enough votes to earn him the title Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People Magazine.

Tyson was host of the PBS show NOVA ScienceNow from 2006-11. He currently has a podcast, StarTalk, and is working on a 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, set to air on the FOX network in spring 2014.

Among Tyson's 10 books is his memoir, The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist, New York Times bestseller Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, chronicling his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto's planetary status.

Tyson was twice appointed by President Bush to serve on space industry and exploration commissions, and by NASA to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council. He is the recipient of eighteen honorary doctorates, as well as the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. In recognition of his contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union officially named asteroid "13123 Tyson."

 * Thumbnail photo courtesy of David Gamble
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