July 23, 2017

Review: Explore the Cosmos Like Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Ever want to explore the universe through an astronomer’s eyes?

The reboot of the Cosmos television series has cemented Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s place in the universe as the successor to the late great Carl Sagan. But before he was a science celebrity and a household name, Tyson was a research astrophysicist as well as a tireless science popularizer and the director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium.

Explore the Cosmos Like Neil DeGrasse Tyson: A Space Science Journey by CAP Saucier out from Prometheus Books explores not only Neil’s personal journey to science stardom, but the arc of the study of astronomy as a whole and our understanding of our place in the universe. Though primarily written for young adults, Explore the Cosmos gives readers a great abbreviated ‘crash course’ in astronomy, as tales about Tyson and his path towards a career in science illuminate the story along the way.

Tyson was born in Manhattan on October 5th 1958, one year and a day after the launch of Sputnik 1 and the start of the Space Age and just months after NASA was formed. Tyson grew up in the Bronx, and was inspired to become an astrophysicist after a visit to the Hayden Planetarium, which he would one day direct. He also met Carl Sagan while applying to college in a tale that is now legend, as he would also assume the mantle of science purveyor and pilot for the ‘spaceship of the mind’ for the recently rebooted Cosmos television series.

Neil also wrote Space Chronicles, which we reviewed here back in 2012.

True story: we once met a budding space fan at a local star party in Florida who wrote to Dr. Tyson explaining his enthusiasm for space… and he actually wrote him back an extended personal letter of encouragement! That’s the kind of person Neil is, as he’ll explain that his early encounters with Sagan as a student made an impression on him, and he always makes sure he has the time to give to a new student to this day.

It seems that the American collective consciousness can hold no more than two science superstars at one time: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Explore the Cosmos not only traces that ascent but demonstrates that, hopefully, there’s more room at the top as we become a science-themed  society hungry for more.

Neil has been vocal proponent of science, skepticism and critical thinking. He continues to host Star Talk radio and its always interesting to follow his thoughts and ruminations) on the universe as @neiltyson on Twitter. Perhaps more than anything else, Mr. Tyson has the true gift of showing us how critical thinking and skepticism can be employed not just in scientific research, but in our everyday lives.

Will there be a Cosmos season 2? What other projects and works are forthcoming from the mind of Dr Tyson? Be sure to read Explore the Cosmos Like Neil DeGrasse Tyson to get a look at the man behind the scientist!

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