Navigating the Universe with StarDate Radio Host Billy Henry

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


“I feel like I just let the river flow, and I go with it,” remarks Billy, in his steady and soothing baritone voice. When the term “Renaissance Man” is mentioned, he chuckles. “I think the Renaissance description would come from not having a lot of money. Let’s say I really want a nice mandolin, but I can’t spend seven grand on it. But I can come up with seven hundred to spend on all of the nice woods and great parts, and then I’ll learn how to make one. That’s kind of my philosophy on things.”

His philosophy has served him well. Growing up in Pasadena, Texas, he dreamed of being an astronaut or at least a pilot, gazing up at the heavens, and confidently figuring that he could count all the stars in the sky. That initial childhood fascination has morphed into a deep amazement and respect for the universe and for all that The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory provides to both researchers and the public.

Navigating the Universe with StarDate Radio Host Billy Henry

Photo: John Spaulding. Viewing the Harlan J. Smith telescope.

In addition to the regular radio program, members of the Observatory receive StarDate’s bimonthly magazine, providing skywatching tips and updates on astronomy and space exploration. The current issue features the upcoming launch in late July of the Mars “Perseverance” rover, scheduled to reach the red planet’s surface by February 2021. StarDate radio just featured a four-part series “Heading to Mars” concluding on July 17. If you miss it, you can catch the podcast.

Billy says of StarDate radio, “It gives enough pertinent information so you can go on and study it later, and when you find something really interesting, you can go as deep as you want.” This theory works the same in music, he says. In teaching composition and orchestration to his students, he explains, if you break a musical score down to its parts, it becomes easier to digest and understand.

Navigating the Universe with StarDate Radio Host Billy Henry
Photo: Butterfly Nebula.