'StarTalk' with Neil deGrasse Tyson Begins Third Season Tonight

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the set of the late-night, science-themed TV show "StarTalk," which is filmed in front of a live studio audience at the American Museum of Natural History.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the set of the late-night, science-themed TV show "StarTalk," which is filmed in front of a live studio audience at the American Museum of Natural History. (Image credit: National Geographic Channels/Scott Gries)

"StarTalk" with Neil deGrasse Tyson is back on TV tonight (Sept. 19) to kick off a third season of hilarious and intelligent discussions about science and pop culture.

Each episode of the Emmy-nominated series is taped in front of a live audience at the Hayden Planetarium inside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The hourlong show hosts guest stars — usually comedians, celebrities and science experts.

Some celebrity guests this season will be Buzz Aldrin (the second man on the moon); actor/neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, of the TV sitcom "The Big Bang Theory"; actor Isaac Wright, from "Game of Thrones"; and "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman.

Public figures include U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter  and former astronaut Kathryn Sullivan, who is the administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Comedic guest stars include talk show hosts Jay Leno and Bill Maher. "StarTalk All-Star" comedian Chuck Nice will also make regular appearances on the show with his own segment, called "Man on the Street."

"We send our comedian out to bring the topic to people who are just doing nothing in New York City Parks and we get some very creative, interesting reflections on the topics at hand, and it makes it more real," Tyson said. "The man on the street brings the viewers even closer to what we're doing, because they see themselves in that position."

Tyson will even host some athletes on the show this season. Terry Crews, an actor and former football player, is scheduled to appear, as is Philippe Petit, who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers, and Hope Solo, the goalie for the U.S. women's national soccer team.

This season will have twice the air time of the last two seasons of the show, with 20 episodes. All episodes will be shown on Monday nights at 11 ET.

First "StarTalk" Book

Last Tuesday (Sept. 13), the show released its first-ever companion book titled "StarTalk: Everything you Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond." Tyson's show hereby expands to yet another platform; it started out as a podcast/radio talk show in 2009 before moving to television in 2015. The book offers a deeper look at discussions from the show as well as other interesting science tidbits.

"The 'StarTalk' Book captures the soul of curiosity that pervades the show," Tyson said. "You open to any page and you'll see content and think, 'Hey, I've always wondered about that!' And then you absorb all the ways science has touched pop culture and in general our lives."

The book also includes funny and informative sidebars written by comedians, plus the best of Tyson's tweets over the years.

Here's a sample of some of the great questions this book attempts to answer: What do I pack for Mars? Can science help me find true love? When are the zombies coming? Could Superman survive a black hole? Could Bigfoot be a space alien? When will we be able to time-travel? Should we be afraid of artificial intelligence?

Tyson said that the new book is for "any adult who has retained some level of curiosity from childhood." Because it does contain a few sections about adult subjects (i.e., sex in space), it's not entirely kid-friendly.

While the book might look as if it's geared toward people who love science, Tyson said that people who think they don't like science might change their minds if they give the book a chance.

"If you have any residual curiosity about how the world works, especially how it connects to everyday life, especially pop culture, then any page you open will titillate you," Tyson said. 

Cover of "StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson," released on Sept. 13, 2016. (Image credit: National Geographic Books)

Though Tyson's photo and the name of his show appear on the cover, he didn't actually write this book himself (though he has authored many books about science and space in the past). Instead, two key members of the "StarTalk" crew wrote the book. Jeffrey Simons, who runs the show's social media, was the principal editor of the book. Charles Liu, an expert guest and co-author of some of Tyson's previous books, "wrote all the connective tissue of the book," Tyson said.

"This book goes so many places and reminds you that science is a living thing that I'd like to think that it sets people off on a further discovery on their own," Tyson said.

The Season 3 premiere of "StarTalk" with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will air on the National Geographic Channel tonight, Sept. 19, at 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT. Check local listings.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebookand Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.