10 Cool Things About Neil deGrasse Tyson

Got the Night Sky Changed in 'Titanic'
'Titanic' director James Cameron was a stickler for historical accuracy in this film -- except when it came to the night sky. © Imaginechina/Corbis

You know an astrophysicist has star power when he can demand changes in a blockbuster movie before it is rereleased to the public. Turns out, James Cameron's 1997 movie "Titanic" depicted the wrong night sky in one of the most memorable scenes illustrating the ocean liner's descent on April 15, 1912.

Tyson wrote Cameron to tell him the stars were not in alignment -- or even in the right ballpark -- when Kate Winslet (who played Rose in the movie) was clinging to a piece of driftwood in the ocean and gazing up at the heavens.

During a panel discussion at St. Petersburg College, Fla., Tyson said, "There is only one sky she should have been looking at ... and it was the wrong sky! Worse than that ... the left half of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right half of the sky. It was not only wrong, it was lazy."

After getting no response, Tyson brought the matter up with Cameron when the two met face-to-face at an event. The director's response? According to Tyson, he drily said, "Last I checked, Titanic had grossed $1.3 billion worldwide. Think how much more it would have grossed if I'd gotten the sky correct."

But Tyson later got a call from someone on Cameron's post-production team who asked him for the correct star alignment and adjusted the shot before the movie's 2012 re-release [sources: Judkis, O'Neill].