October 23, 2017

Saturday Open Thread: African-American Astronomers and Astrophysicists

This week’s open threads have highlighted the accomplishments of several African-American Astronomers and Astrophysicists. Today’s post is going to focus on the current host of  Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.


Neil deGrasse Tyson ( born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. From 2006 to 2011, he hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportReal Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy!. Tyson is the host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, an update to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage television series; the updated series started in March 2014.

Tyson was born as the second of three children in the borough of Manhattan in New York City and was raised in the Bronx.  His mother, Sunchita Marie (Feliciano) Tyson, was a gerontologist, and his father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, was a sociologist, human resource commissioner for the New York City mayor John Lindsay, and the first Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

From kindergarten through high school Tyson attended public schools in New York City, all in the Bronx, which included PS 36, PS 81, Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy (MS 141), and The Bronx High School of Science (1972–76)  where he was captain of the wrestling team, and editor-in-chief of the school’s Physical Science Journal. Tyson had an abiding interest in astronomy since he was nine years old, following his visit to Pennsylvania and seeing the stars, saying “it looks like the Hayden Planetarium”.  He obsessively studied astronomy in his teens, and eventually even gained some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of fifteen. Tyson 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.”

Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a faculty member at Cornell University, tried to recruit Tyson to Cornell for undergraduate studies. In an interview with writer Daniel Simone, Tyson said:

Interestingly, when I applied to Cornell, my application dripped of my passion for the study and research of the Universe. Somehow the admissions office brought my application to the attention of the late Dr. Sagan, and he actually took the initiative and care to contact me. He was very inspirational and a most powerful influence. Dr. Sagan was as great as the universe, an effective mentor.

Tyson revisited this moment on his first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Pulling out a 1975 calendar belonging to the famous astronomer, he finds the day Sagan invited his 17-year-old self to spend a day in Ithaca. Sagan had offered to put him up for the night if his bus back to the Bronx didn’t come. Tyson said, “I already knew I wanted to become a scientist. But that afternoon, I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become.”

Tyson chose to attend Harvard University, however, where he majored in physics and lived in Currier House. He was a member of the crew team during his freshman year, but returned to wrestling, eventually lettering in his senior year. In addition to wrestling and rowing in college, he was active in dance, in styles including jazz, ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin Ballroom.  Tyson earned a Bachelor of Arts in physics from Harvard in 1980 and began his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin; he was unable to complete his Ph.D. because his thesis committee voted to dissolve itself and he received a Master of Arts in astronomy in 1983. In 1985, he won a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team at a national tournament in the International Latin Ballroom style. He was a lecturer at the University of Maryland from 1986-1987. 

 In 1988, Tyson was accepted into the astronomy graduate program at Columbia University, where he earned a Master of Philosophy in astrophysics in 1989, and a Doctor of Philosophy in astrophysics in 1991 under the supervision of Professor R. Michael Rich (now at UCLA). Rich obtained funding to support Tyson’s doctoral research from NASA and the ARCS foundation  enabling Tyson to attend international meetings in Italy, Switzerland, Chile, and South Africa  and to hire students to help him with data reduction. In the course of his thesis work, he observed using the 0.91 m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, where he obtained images for the Calán/Tololo Supernova Survey  helping to further their work in establishing Type Ia Supernovae as standard candles. These papers comprised part of the discovery papers of the use of Type Ia supernovae to measure distances, which led to the improved measurement of the Hubble constant  and discovery of dark energy in 1998. He was 18th author on a paper with Brian Schmidt, a future winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, in the study of the measurement of distances to Type II Supernovae and the Hubble constant.

During his thesis work at Columbia University, Tyson became acquainted with Professor David Spergel at Princeton University, who visited Columbia University in the course of collaborating with his thesis advisor on the Galactic bulge.  Tyson was a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University from 1991 to 1994 and it was during this period that the project to renovate the Hayden Planetarium was conceived.

Tyson’s research has focused on observations in cosmology, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, bulges, and stellar formation. He has held numerous positions at institutions including the University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and Hayden Planetarium.

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 he authored for the magazine 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 the sunset visible along unobstructed side streets. Tyson’s column also influenced his work as a professor with The Great Courses.

In 2001, US President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and in 2004 to serve on the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, the latter better known as the “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” commission. Soon afterward he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by NASA.

In 2004, he hosted the four-part Origins miniseries of PBS’s Nova, and, with Donald Goldsmith, co-authored the companion volume for this series, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution.  He again collaborated with Goldsmith as the narrator on the documentary 400 Years of the Telescope, which premiered on PBS in April 2009.

As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson bucked traditional thinking in order to keep Plutofrom being referred to as the ninth planet in exhibits at the center. Tyson has explained that he wanted to look at commonalities between objects, grouping the terrestrial planets together, the gas giants together, and Pluto with like objects and to get away from simply counting the planets. He has stated on The Colbert ReportThe Daily Show, and BBC Horizon that this decision has resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children.  In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) confirmed this assessment by changing Pluto to the dwarf planet classification. Daniel Simone wrote of the interview with Tyson describing his frustration. “For a while, we were not very popular here at the Hayden Planetarium.”

Tyson has been vice president, president, and chairman of the board of the Planetary Society. He was also the host of the PBS program Nova Science Now until 2011. He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival symposium on November 2006. In 2007, Tyson was chosen to be a regular on The History Channel’s popular series The Universe.

In April 2011, Tyson was the keynote speaker at the 93rd International Convention of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of the Two-year School. Tyson has argued that the concept of intelligent design thwarts the advance of scientific knowledge.

He has written and broadcast extensively about his views of science, spirituality, and the spirituality of science including the essays, “The Perimeter of Ignorance” and “Holy Wars”, both appearing in Natural History magazine and the 2006 Beyond Belief workshop. Tyson has collaborated with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and presented talks with him on religion and science. When asked if he believed in a higher power, Tyson responded:

Every account of a higher power that I’ve seen described, of all religions that I’ve seen, include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.

In an interview with Big Think, Tyson said, “So what people are really after is my stance on religion or spirituality or God, and I would say if I had to find a word that came closest, I would say agnostic… at the end of the day I’d rather not be any category at all.” During the interview “Called by the Universe: A conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson” in 2009, Tyson said: “I can’t agree to the claims by atheists that I’m one of that community. I don’t have the time, energy, interest of conducting myself that way… I’m not trying to convert people. I don’t care.”



  • TyrenM

    Good Morning POU! Late sleepers today I see. This has been a great series. Imma have to go check out his old Nova episodes. I’m glad daughter likes watching Cosmos with me. Have a good day all.

  • rikyrah

    Good Morning, Everyone 🙂

  • jds09

    Good Morning POU Fam!

    The old white man crazy is on the loose. Check out racist Donald Sterling….TMZ got the tape.

    White supremacy rots the brain. Sterling is makes absolutely no sense.

    • Miranda

      /I just saw your post. He is a known racist and the NBA ignored it….now watch how much attention this gets compared with how the sports media covered Richard Sherman.

      • jds09

        Yep, Commissioners Silver/Stern have a lot to answer for. Early this morning a tweeter referenced an old article from ESPN about Sterling and it was already pulled.

        A known racist with a Black/Mexican girlfriend, while listening to that tape I felt I might have entered the mind of Strom Thrumond.

  • GreenLadyHere

    – -☺http://www.popularvirals.com/images/days/saturday/happy-saturday-0819.gif — –GOOD Saturday Morntin’ PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ — – ***BIG HUG** – –:>) YES! — -We HONOR DR. TYSON! :>) – – –
    – – — Annnd MR PRESIDENT has ARRIVED in Malaysia: – — –
    – – – –☺http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wQrq3XWrj4

    — – — -☺@TODAYonline[Thank U♥]
    @BarackObama’s visit to Malaysia is the first by a U.S. president in nearly half a century http://tdy.sg/1tNgqdY pic.twitter.com/D2nUoYTqaJ

    — –WORLD annnd WORLD CLASS LEADER♥ —:>)

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ — -Missed THIS —IN-JUSTICE – -yesterday. –[Apologies iff a dup] – –

    – – —Judge recused in Renisha McBride shooting trial
    – — — -Sooo the MURDERER’s attorney found a “Loop hold” 2 removed SistaJudge. THIS is DISGUSTING. – – –DISGUSTING!!
    — BUT – – – -WATCHIN’ – – –4 JUSTICE – — anyhow!!!


  • rikyrah

    Exclusive: U.S. expanding corporate foreign bribery probes to include hiring

    By Aruna Viswanatha

    WASHINGTON Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:17pm EDT

    (Reuters) – U.S. government agencies that have been probing banks’ hiring of children of powerful Chinese officials are expanding existing investigations in other industries across Asia to include hiring practices, four people familiar with the matter said.

    The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been asking global companies in a range of industries including oil and gas, telecommunications and consumer products for information about their hiring practices to determine if they could amount to bribery, these people said.

    On Wednesday, mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc said it could face a civil action from U.S. authorities over alleged bribery of officials associated with state-owned companies in China. It also said it found instances in which “special hiring consideration” was given to people associated with state-owned companies or agencies in China.

    Qualcomm declined to comment on Friday. The Justice Department and SEC declined to comment on whether they have expanded their probes.

    Some of the new inquiries have zeroed in on hires in China, South Korea and southeast Asia, including Singapore, two of the people familiar with the probes said.

    It was not clear how many companies were involved in the expanded probes and the people, who declined to be named because details of the investigations are not public, did not name specific firms.


  • rikyrah

    Harrison’s Gone, Our Gingham’s Dead: Fune Plans Have Begun
    [ 52 ] April 25, 2014 | Luvvie

    Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to pay respects to Scandal’s Harrison Wright (aka Brolivia Pope), Gooning Gladiator in Gingham. He came, he read Olivia for filth, he banged Adnan and conquered nothing really. He wore mismatched ties and shirts, suspenders like no other and sometimes, we saw that his yansh was SITTING in them dress pants like the wheels on the bus that go round and round.

    He shall be missed, even though we hardly knew him. He’s survived by his colleagues at Olivia Pope and Associates, and his maybe parent, Rowan Pope. Harrison’s gone, our gingham’s dead! Shoutout to my girl Veronica for that line. She let me borrow it.


  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ – — -Lookin’ AHEAD — –> —
    Germany’s Merkel to visit Obama next week
    — — —German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the United States and meet with President Obama on Friday, the White House announced.

    The discussions will focus on U.S.-German cooperation over the crisis in Ukraine as well as ongoing negotiations over a proposed trans-Atlantic trade deal and broader security issues.

    “The alliance between the United States and Germany is indispensable to meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century,” the White House said in the announcement on Saturday.

    • goldenstar

      So much for the supposed German-US rift.

      • GreenLadyHere

        –☺http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/018/b/6/gold_star_by_arc_en_ciel_chan-d37i7hn.gif GOOD SATURDAY MORNTIN’ :>) ***BIG HUG*** :>)
        – – – -LIARS – –ALWAYS – – –GET –CAUGHT! — – -Evidence. :>) —

        Good 2 C U GOLDenstar. :>)
        B BLESSED/SAFE/WARM♥ – —

        — -[Gotta “bounce” — C YA as soon as. . .♥]

      • They’ve had their differences but from every photo I’ve seen Merkel really likes this President and vice versa.

        • AxelFoley

          LL Cool Barack. That’s why. 😉

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ — – — -MR. PRESIDENT – – -PUTS IT 2 THEM — – -AGAIN!: – —

    – —Weekly Address: Congress Needs to Act on Minimum Wage – –

    — – – – — – In this week’s address, the President highlights small business owners across the country acting to raise wages for their workers, and calls on Congress to give America a raise so more hard-working Americans have the opportunity to get ahead.

    – — – –TEN – –TEN – -$10.10! –4 –“WE the PEOPLE!” :>)

  • Miranda

    So black folks can play on his team and make him a billion dollars but black folks can’t come to the games…..ok racist bitch….
    Report: Clippers owner Donald Sterling tells girlfriend to not bring African-Americans to his games

    This includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, whom Stiviano was seen with in a photo on Instagram.
    April 26, 2014
    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling tells his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that he doesn’t want her posting pictures of minorities or bringing African-Americans to his games, according to explosive audio obtained by TMZ Sports.

    This includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, whom Stiviano was seen with in a photo on Instagram, which infuriated Sterling. Magic told TMZ Sports, “It’s a shame that Donald Sterling feels that way about African-Americans.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/report-clippers-owner-sterling-tells-gf-bring-african-americans-games-article-1.1769803#ixzz3005SvgNG

    • jds09

      Just think about that….Magic Johnson isn’t good enough in this man’s eyes. In the tape, Sterling’s girlfriend ask would Larry Bird be okay and that stops him in his tracks. Then he plaintively asks her why she brought Larry Bird into it. Smh.

    • rikyrah

      uh huh

      uh huh

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ — – -Continuing 2 WATCH – – -Sooo SAD —

    – – – -☺@MsAfropolitan[Thank U♥]
    A father of one of the kidnapped girls weeps in meeting with the Borno governor via @guardian #BringBackOurGirls pic.twitter.com/ZAnEY3ZBFj

    — PRAYING 4 these young ladies♥/families♥ — -AMEN♥

  • Miranda

    Oh and in case anyone thinks the NBA didn’t know bout Sterling and his racist azz, this is from 2011:

    Donald Sterling allegedly acted terribly in the Clippers locker room

    • AxelFoley

      Yup, this shit’s been known for years. Stern let it go on, but got on players for “thug culture”.

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥POU FAM♥ – – – -SADLY — -This young man had MORE problems — — than with school —

    — —Teen Stowaway’s Mom: His Dad Told Him I Was Dead — [She says Yahya Abdi only recently learned she was alive] – –

    – – – – – –The teen stowaway who who survived a five-hour flight in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 was trying to get to Somalia to see his family—including his mother, who tells Voice of America and the Daily Mailthat the boy, Yahya Abdi, had only recently learned she was alive. UbahMohamed Abdulle is divorced from the father of her three children, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, and says he took them from Somalia without her knowledge. She says she was not allowed to speak to her kids and hadn’t heard anything about them since 2006, and “they were even told that I was dead.”

    She says her husband remarried and told her children—and US authorities when they came to the country—she had been killed in a rocket attack in Mogadishu, but Yahya found out through the local Somali community, two years ago, that wasn’t true. A family member says Yahya has been “unhappy at home” since finding out, and “very angry with his father,” and adds that the teen doesn’t get along with his stepmother.
    THERE IS MORE – – —
    – – -Praying 4 him – – -that he can get 2 C his mother. AMEN♥ —

  • GreenLadyHere


    – – – – –☺@NerdyWonka[THANK U♥]
    President Barack Obama is toasted by Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah during a state dinner at Istana Negara. pic.twitter.com/9beSm7AziB

  • Kennymack1971

    This Donald Sterling situation is one big reason I despise David Stern. This man policed the NBA “thug culture” but let this racist (and this dude is grade A trash) continue to own a team. NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs to “convince” Sterling to sell.

    • AxelFoley

      Co-sign. Stern let Sterling get away with this shit for years. I’m amazed the League is finally looking into this.

      • jds09

        This qualifies as an “open secret”. I grew up in LA and I remember Elgin Baylor’s pained press conferences after some star athlete routinely took Sterling’s cash, stayed a hot minute then bounced. Elgin would sit there blaming/not blaming Sterling.

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ – – -Sooo the SCOTUS is – —3 –for –3 –AGAINST BLAH FOLKS/POC

    – – – –☺ -Decimated a significant portion of the –Voting Rights Act

    – – – – ☺Weakend – -AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

    – — – -☺NOW —THIS – – -[A Kind of STOP/FRISK]!!

    – —Supreme Court Rules Officers Can Stop Cars Based on Anonymous Tips

    – – – – —The Supreme Court ruled this week that police officers could stop and search a vehicle based on an anonymous 911 tip. The 5-4 decision upholds a previous ruling made by California courts.

    Police have the authority to stop and question cars that have been swerving or speeding, even if they have not observed this activity themselves.

    Lorenzo and Jose Navarette were at the center of the case. In 2008, the two men were driving a pickup truck and were stopped by police after they fit a description of a vehicle given in a tip. They were suspected of pushing another car off the road in Mendocino County, California.

    During the search officers uncovered 30 pounds of marijuana and the men were convicted of trafficking. They appealed the ruling and said the officers violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment. But the court decided that officers are now justified in taking action and possibly arresting individuals in these situations.


    Annnd — 4 NOW —-THEY have the POWER – – —
    – – —Waitin’ 4 –JUSTICE – –via an APPOINTMENT from MR. PRESIDENT – –HOPIN’ – – – –

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥ —‘member how THESE were made 4 –rom-knee? – — WAY-ELL a pair is bein’ MADE 4 -THIS RACIST – -2!!
    – – – –☺http://bojidarmarinov.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/romney-flip-floppers1.png

    – – — Unable to Get New York Times to Retract its Accurate Quotes, Cliven Bundy Non-Apologizes Instead – – –
    – — —- Poor, set-upon conservative would-be martyr Cliven Bundy said Friday, “I’m probably one of the most non-racist people in America.” He made this pronouncement with a straight face. “I hope I didn’t offend anybody. If I did, I ask for your forgiveness. But I meant what I said.
    It comes straight from the heart.”
    Oh, we know it does.
    This, of course, is after his attempt to get The New York Times to
    retract its accurate quotes, telling Alex Jones that he “loves the black

    – – – -That didn’t work, so all he was left with was the obligatory Republican non-apology.
    – – – – -SNIP — – –

    – —-Fortunately, we can have a discussion whether they want to or not. And it will be far more eloquent than a pampered white male welfare queen, Rand Paul, the Republican Party, and Fox News combined. And what’s best, it’s far more to the point.

    It’s called an election.

    — – – -BOTTOM LINE – — ☺http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_md2vmyYaYi1rk1f5to1_400.gif

  • GreenLadyHere

    — – -☺http://eliotseats.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/index3-643×1024.jpeg
    – — —4 Sepia’s MOM♥/Family♥ – –Aquagranny’s Sister♥/Family♥ –AMEN♥ :>)

  • GreenLadyHere

    PBOMB♥/POU FAM♥– -☺http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBWpIlSlZpU – — IN HONOR — of THIS –“STAR” – -in the SCIENTIFIC FIELD. :>)
    – –☻DR. TYSON♥ – –
    — – — -☺INSPIRED by the STARS: – –Tyson 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.”
    How POETIC. :>)

    • Alma98

      Morning GLH! Blessings to you and the family.

      • GreenLadyHere

        Alma – — –***BIG HUG*** – – -Thank U. :>)

        2 many events 2-day. :>)

  • Alma98

    Good morning everyone.

    • goldenstar

      Good morning Alma. The sun is so bright and it’s so darn cold.

      • Alma98

        Afternoon goldenstar, it’s the same here. But the little league teams are out in force today. I’ve been watching them in the park across from my house.

      • crazycanuck

        Here in the TDot, we know when the sun is bright it’s dam cold outside. It is quite nice here today,but it gloomy with the sun trying to come out.

    • rikyrah

      Good Afternoon, Alma. 🙂

      • Alma98

        Afternoon rikyrah:)

  • JB20005

    Cliven Bundy now comparing himself to Rosa Parks.


    • Alma98


      • JB20005

        Pretty sure that Rosa Parks paid her bus fare.

        • Alma98

          That doesn’t matter to him, hell he probably wouldn’t even recognize a photo of Rosa Parks.

    • MonieTalks

      The right and left imaginary heroes love comparing themselves to our fearless leaders past and present.

      Somebody please capture them and lock their ass up!

  • Alma98


    Alex Kennedy ✔
    Donald Sterling won an NAACP lifetime achievement award in 2009 for being “very, very kind to the minority youth community.”

    • itgurl_29

      NAACP is just…SMH.

      • Alma98

        Obviously they never thoroughly check people out before they give them an award.

        • EpiphanySweet

          I am sure he wrote a big check…….I hope they got a big check for that b.s.

    • A racist NBA owner…I can’t wrap my mind around that.

    • crazycanuck

      rolls eyes, not surprised at all

    • MonieTalks

      Who da fuq researched for this award?

      • Alma98

        Sad ain’t it.

    • AxelFoley

      NAACP stay failing.

      It’s been well known for years that Sterling is a racist CAC. Can’t believe the NBA is FINALLY investigating this old fuck. Bout damn time.

      • Alma98

        They knew what he was and didn’t care as long as they got that cream.

  • MonieTalks

    Is it me or doses that pathetic racist Donald Sterling look like that other notorious racist Marge Schott without a wig….and Cliven Bundy as well.

    Racism must give you that wrinkled, raw chicken look.

    • Alma98


    • AxelFoley

      You know what they say–they ALL look alike.

      • Alma98


    • jds09

      On a serious note, I believe it eats them alive. It takes a lot of energy to prop up white supremacist lies in the face of empirical data to the contrary.

    • jziglar

      Lol ! I was thinking the same thing.

  • crazycanuck

    Can they do this?

    Retweeted by 1911 United
    Obama Scooters ‏@ObamaScooters 18m
    Buy from us and support your political interests pic.twitter.com/cARArANHuq

    • Alma98

      Who is this?

      • crazycanuck

        Don’t know,just wondering if they can call it ‘obama scooters’

        • Alma98

          I don’t think so, maybe Alexander or Miranda would know. Copyright laws are not my forte.