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After departing the Cincinnati Observatory, astronomer Dean Regas plans to keep looking up

A man poses with a mahogany-encased, brass fitted telescope in a dome with one panel open to the daylight.
Bill Rinehart
Astronomer Dean Regas poses with the Mitchel telescope on the anniversary of its first useage.

Dean Regas says he's leaving the Cincinnati Observatory, but isn't leaving Cincinnati. Thursday was his last day after about 23 years at the Observatory, many of them as astronomer. Regas says it was a great experience with a lot of freedom to travel and work with other groups.

"As time goes on, it seemed like, I think... there's only so many hours in the day," he says. "Getting to travel and work at the Observatory was becoming increasingly difficult. So, I decided, well, I think it's time to really pursue this and see if I can make a go of this on my own."

Regas says he has some ideas for more books, and plans to continue speaking about astronomy around Cincinnati and around the country.

Get caught up: Dean Regas is leaving the Cincinnati Observatory

Regas started his career looking around, and not necessarily up.

He says he went to Xavier University and got a degree in history, with the idea of teaching at the high school level.

In 1998, Regas was a part-time naturalist for Cincinnati Parks. "One of the parks had a planetarium at Burnet Woods, and I was placed in charge of the planetarium, knowing absolutely nothing about the stars at all," he says. "But something just happened there. I was under the dome and… this moment where I knew exactly this was the job for me, to teach astronomy."

Regas volunteered at the Cincinnati Observatory before getting hired there as their first educator in 2000.

"In the beginning, it was cold-calling teachers, saying 'Hey, you should come for a field trip at the Observatory,' " he recalls. "Or even a tougher sell: 'You should have me come teach your class about astronomy,' and it just started from there."

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Regas says he may be most proud of the Future Galileo program. "We trained 130 teams of educators, amateur astronomers, community members to use telescopes and then they all got to take a telescope home," he says. "One-hundred thirty telescopes are in our community doing astronomy education."

For several years, Regas was co-host of the PBS show Star Gazers. He was the second astronomer in residence at the Grand Canyon National Park in 2021. His biography cites more than 160 articles for Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines, as well as six books. He also hosts the WVXU podcast Looking Up.

"I'm hoping to focus a lot more on writing; I have some more book ideas, and then also continue my public speaking in Cincinnati and around the whole country," he says.

"I'm looking at online options. There's definitely some ways to reach people even more on social media, YouTube and even online programming," he says.

Regas calls himself an "eclipse chaser," and says he's looking forward to a partial eclipse in New Mexico in October of this year, and a total eclipse closer to Cincinnati in 2024.

LISTEN: Dean Regas tells us what he saw as Astronomer in Residence at the Grand Canyon

The Observatory said in a statement it will conduct a search for a new outreach astronomer in the coming months.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.