Radio’s Guide to the Universe

StarDate host Billy Henry

StarDate debuted in 1978, making it the longest-running national radio science feature in the country. It airs on more than 300 radio stations. It has been hosted by Billy Henry since July 2019.

StarDate tells listeners what to look for in the night sky, and explains the science, history, and skylore behind these objects. It also keeps listeners up to date on the latest research findings and space missions. And it offers tidbits on astronomy in the arts and popular culture, providing ways for people with diverse interests to keep up with the universe.

StarDate is a production of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, which also produces the bi-monthly StarDate magazine.

The Voice of StarDate

Billy Henry, a voice talent, musician, composer, and college lecturer in Austin is the third narrator of the StarDate radio program. Read more »

The Music of StarDate

The StarDate background music was written by Bill Harwell and Patterson Barrett specifically for StarDate.

More Than 40 Years and Counting!

StarDate is radio’s longest-running nationally aired science program. It began in 1977 as a daily telephone message service by McDonald Observatory. It was picked up by Austin radio station KLBJ-FM, and aired as “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?” beginning in June 1977. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, the program became “Star Date,” and began airing nationally, seven days per week, on October 1, 1978. It quickly reached more than 1,000 stations across the country. Read more »

Today’s Episode

Scorpius Clusters

Scorpius is immersed in the Milky Way – the hazy band of light that outlines the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy. Because of that, the constellation is home to a dense variety of star clusters. Some of them are young, so they hold some especially bright stars.Two examples are Messier 6 and 7.M7 is the brighter of the two. Under dark skies, it’s fairly easy to see with the unaided eye. It’s about a thousand light-years away, and it contains hundreds of stars.M7 appears to be about 200 million years old. At that age, all of its most-massive stars have long since blasted themselves to bits. That’s because heavy stars use up their nuclear fuel in a hurry. But the cluster still contains some stars that are a good bit bigger, brighter, and heavier than the Sun.M6 may be just half as old as M7, so some of its stars are more impressive than any in M7. But astronomers have cataloged fewer stars there. And the cluster is hundreds of light-years farther than M7, so it’s harder to see – a faint family of stars in the Milky Way.Look for the clusters quite low in the southern sky at nightfall. They’re to the upper left of the stars that form the “stinger” of the scorpion. M7 is about half way between the stinger and the “spout” of the teapot formed by the next-door constellation Sagittarius. Fainter M6 is a little higher in the sky. Both clusters are good targets for binoculars.Script by Damond Benningfield
Go to episode

Upcoming Topics

  • July 22-28: The Archer

    Sagittarius glides across the southern sky on summer nights. It represents a centaur with a bow and arrow. It’s home to a supermassive black hole and other wonders, and we’ll have details.

  • July 15-21: The Scorpion

    Scorpius is one of the easiest constellations to spot. It’s also one of the most interesting, with supergiant stars, busy star clusters, and much more.

  • July 8-14: Dwarf Planets

    Lots of small, icy worlds patrol the deep-freeze of the outer solar system, and we’ll have details. We’ll also talk about a stellar time machine, some bits of celestial glass in Texas, and more.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top