The 61-year-old was there promote his new book, Letters from an Astrophysicist; however, before going on to discuss it, Stephen Colbert challenged Tyson with a highly personal question: “What has this last year been like for you?”
Last year, Tyson was accused of sexual misconduct by two women, separately.
“Regardless of that outcome,” he continued, “I can’t imagine that that was a particularly satisfying result for you, or these women who have said that they are not satisfied by that result.”
Tyson responded slowly and carefully to Colbert’s initial question about the past year.
“It’s been very long,” he said. “When I think about what I valued over that time, it was particularly the value of support from family, friends — friends such as you — and especially fans, who were there the whole time.
“And they’re there now, receiving all that I do for them: trying to bring the universe down to Earth for whoever will listen.”
“What did you learn over the last year?” asked Colbert. “Regardless of the outcome.”
“That’s what I learned,” replied Tyson. “I learned that I had friends in… a time of need and a time of stress. That’s what I learned from this year.
“As a scientist, most of the time, I’m just thinking objectively about the world and thinking a little less about emotion and feelings,” he added, reiterating, “When I needed it most, people were there for me. Again, family, friends and fans. Especially fans.”
Tyson claimed that his objective as a pop culture icon/scientist was always to act merely as a “vehicle” for people to learn about the wonders of the universe, rather than have fans focus on him as a TV personality.
WATCH: The Late Show — Neil deGrasse Tyson talks extraterrestrial life with Stephen Colbert
It was in November 2018 that Tyson initially faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Patheos.com published accounts from two women accusing Tyson of behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner toward them in separate incidents.
Tyson publicly responded to these claims in December, denying the accusations that he groped a woman and made sexual advances toward a production assistant at his home.
He later apologized for making the assistant feel uncomfortable in a lengthy Facebook post.
“For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today’s ‘Me Too’ climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion,” Tyson wrote. “Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.
“In my mind’s eye, I’m a friendly and accessible guy, but going forward, I can surely be more sensitive to people’s personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.”
Watch the full Late Show interview above.
— With files from Katie Scott