B i o


My name is Larry McHenry.   I live, work, and observe in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area.  
I am now officially retired, but prior to that I worked for many years in downtown Pittsburgh as a systems project manager, and I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and Agile Scrum Master (CSM).   I've previously worked as a COBOL programmer, a Internet e-commerce developer, and a systems consultant, and have programming experience with both mainframe and desktop systems.   I've designed my own personal websites on astronomical sketching, solar observing, and video astronomy, and developed and maintained various astronomy club webpages.   I have been active in amateur astronomy as a hobby for over 45 years.

My interest developed from reading science fiction as a child, but what really got me into astronomy was the Apollo Moon landings.   I remember as a young boy, watching the July 20th, 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing on the TV, and then borrowing my fathers' binoculars to look at the moon and trying to see them.   Of course I couldn't, but searching the Moon for them got me interested in 'looking up'

In my hometown of Portsmouth Ohio, there were no local astronomy clubs, so I never developed beyond a casual stargazer/meteor watcher.   In college (Eastern Kentucky University), I signed up for several astronomy courses that refreshed my interest in the hobby.   After graduating, I joined my first astronomy club, the "North Canton Astronomical Society".   About a year later I moved to Louisville Kentucky and became active with the local clubs there: the "Stargazers of Louisville" - an informal club, and the "Louisville Astronomical Society".   In the SOL, I helped organize a Comet Halley Watch.   In the LAS, I organized other observing activities, and the yearly Astronomy Day activities.   During my years in Louisville, I held the offices of President, Vice-President, and Librarian.

In March 1990, I moved to Pittsburgh, and joined the Amateur Astronomers Asociation of Pittsburgh (AAAP) in May.   Over the years, I was active in attending meetings and starparties at Wagman Observatory, the old South Park Wave Pool site, and at the new Mingo Creek Park Observatory.   I've helped out at many club special events such as past Astronomy Day's at Beechwood, and the Frick Nature Center, and Astronomy Weekend events held at the Carnegie Science Center, Wagman WinterFest, Borders Bookstore talks, and various school and library related starparties in the South Hills area.

I've served as a member of the AAAP Executive Committee over the years, along with chairing the 'Solar Observing' special interest group, and the past 'Astro Sketching' contest, and I held the office of AAAP President in 1993 -1994, and served again as club president for 3 years from 2000 - 2003.   Additionally, I co-chaired the regional Laurel Highlands Star Cruise camping convention for it's last several years.   Starting in 2002, I served on the Mingo Creek Park Observatory Committee as one of it's principal founders, and was instrumental in the creation of the observatory.   In 2005, I served as the 1st Director of the new observatory facility, overseeing its first full year of successful operation.   After eighteen years of active participation as a member and officer, I left the AAAP in 2008 to focus on my personal astronomical interest.   I joined the Kiski Astronomers, a small local astronomy club, whose members I enjoy associating with at the various regional astronomical conventions.   in 2010, I was invited back to the AAAP to help assist at the Mingo observatory, but after a tumultuous two years, I once again left to pursue my personal projects and to participate with the Kiski Astronomers in their activities.
Over the past few years, I have been an active member with the Oil Region Astronomical Society (ORAS) in building their new observatory. During the summer, I can be found at Cherry Springs State Park during the two annual conventions held there, along with the occasional New Moon that falls on weekends. I also spend time down in WV at the Calhoun County Park, helping with establishing that location as a new dark-sky venue.

One of my favorite astronomy activities is sketching deep-sky objects.   I've had several sketches published in 'Astronomy' and 'The Observers Guide' magazines and "The Night's Sky Observers Guide" book, and in the October 2006 issue of the French publication 'Ciel Extreme'.   I've also received a merit award for astronomical artwork at the 18th annual Apollo Rendezvous Starparty convention in Dayton, Ohio.   I completed my Messier Observing Certificate by sketching the entire Messier catalog.   Over the past several years, I have given presentations on Sketching at the 2008 Black Forest Starparty convention, and at the 2009 Starfest Convention in Canada.


Since 1991, I have been interested in solar observing and sketching and imaging sunspots.   I am a contributor to the AAVSO's sunspot counting program, and received an observing award from them in October 1999.   In 1996, I built my home backyard observatory, which I use primarily for solar observing using a pier mounted 8" SCT with filters in both in white-light and H-alpha.   My home observatory is highlighted in a new book on building an amateur observatory - " Building a Roll-Off Observatory: A Complete Guide for Design and Construction".


Over the past several years, I've given presentations on Solar Observing at the Mason-Dixon Starparty, the Black Forest Starparty convention, the 2009 Manitoulin Island Starparty and the 2009 Starfest Convention in Canada.

I was one of the early adopters of video astronomy imaging in the Pittsburgh region, and use video extensively in my home solar observatory.   I've also installed a video astronomy system for public starparty use at the Mingo Creek Park Observatory.   In the spring of 2008, I gave a presentation on Video Astronomy at the Mason-Dixon Starparty convention, and the Cherry Springs StarParty, and in 2009 at the Black Forest Starparty.   Along the way, I finished work on several projects to video capture all of the Messier Catalog, the Herschel 400, a video survey of the constellations, Local Group galaxies and a number of star cluster catalogs.
I currently have several video-observing projects in flight, including capturing Abell Planetary nebula, Arp Peculiar galaxies, and I am working my way thru video-capturing all 2500 Herschel Objects.


Larry McHenry,   Pittsburgh, PA. USA