StarDate is the public education and outreach arm of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. Our radio program airs daily on more than 300 stations, and our popular bimonthly astronomy magazine is the perfect skywatching companion for amateur astronomers or anyone interested in celestial events and space exploration. We also offer astronomy resources to teachers, the media, and the public.
General information about StarDate and astronomy.
Executive Producer: Damond Benningfield
Contributors: Dr. Tom Barnes, Rebecca Johnson, Chris Duncan, Tim Jones, Casey Walker
McDonald Observatory Leadership:
- Dr. Taft Armandroff, Director
- Katie Kizziar, Assistant Director for Education & Outreach
StarDate History and Background
StarDate is the longest-running science feature in the country. It began as a telephone message service and soon went on the air in Austin as a daily radio program, “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?” With a new name and a grant from the National Science Foundation, the series began national distribution in 1978.
Each month, the program offers a balance of astronomy and space-science topics. About half of each month’s programs are related to skywatching: eclipses, meteor showers, planetary conjunctions, stars and constellations, and so on.
Other topics are related to important anniversaries (the birthdays of important astronomers or anniversaries of key scientific discoveries or space-exploration accomplishments); recent discoveries in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics; Earth’s place in the cosmos; and a variety of topics that help place astronomy in a broader historical, scientific, and cultural perspective.
StarDate magazine celebrated 40 years of publication in 2013. Known as McDonald Observatory News when it was first published, it became a color, bimonthly magazine in 1988. StarDate magazine covers a wide range of topics related to the science of astronomy, space exploration, skylore, and skywatching. Articles may cover recent discoveries or serve as a primer on basic astronomy or astrophysics. We also introduce our readers to historical people and events in astronomy and space exploration, as well as look forward to what will make history next year or fifty years from now. For information on writing for StarDate magazine, contact the editor, Rebecca Johnson.