After more than two decades at the Cincinnati Observatory, celebrity astronomer Dean Regas is looking to become “the astronomer to the world.”
Regas, who’d served as the Observatory’s outreach astronomer since 2000, plans to venture out on his own and start a “space business.” The longtime Cincinnati resident wants to go that route, he said, to give himself time to do more public speaking and get back into writing.
The Xavier University graduate has written six books and published more than 160 articles for magazines like “Astronomy” and “Sky & Telescope.”
One of Regas’ first gigs in his new role is an upcoming two-week stint as astronomer-in-residence at the Grand Canyon.
Regas is still figuring out a name for his brand, but right now he’s leaning toward the playful title of AstroDean.
“For me, it’s still all about getting people inspired about space, the stars and astronomy,” said Regas, an author and former host of PBS’ “Star Gazers” television program.
One of the reasons Regas decided to leave the observatory after nearly 24 years working there is to travel more, he said.
Fans of his social media channels and podcast, “Looking up,” know all about Regas’ passion for traveling to national parks. There’s less light pollution in Big Sky Country, making for more spectacular views of the stars, planets and other celestial bodies.
Regas plans to be on the road in pursuit of dark skies for the partial solar eclipse in October 2023 and the full eclipse in April 2024.
“It was really tough,” he said of the decision. “I love the place, I love the mission of the observatory to just get people excited about the subject of astronomy.
“In the past, I was able to travel a little more freely to see the dark skies of the national parks or visit other observatories,” he continued. “We have two eclipses coming up here and it just looked like I wasn’t able to travel quite as well as I could before. So, I kind of decided I needed to branch out on my own.”
There are no immediate plans of Regas to leave southwest Ohio. He described it as his base of operations.
Regas also plans to continue his Cincinnati-based podcast and work with local NPR station WVXU. He’ll also “pop up” from time to time around town for lectures or events, he said. But for now he wants to branch out on his own, he said, so he doesn’t have any immediate plans for programs at the Observatory.
“I had so many great experiences at the observatory, and I can’t say enough about how great it is there,” he said. “It was just one of those times where I thought, ‘You know, there’s a whole green world out there to explore.’”
The Cincinnati Observatory posted a farewell of sorts to Regas on social media on Thursday, Aug. 3. That was his final day of work.
The post thanked him for his “two incredible decades” as the astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory.
“We’re extremely proud of his accomplishments and his contributions to raising the visibility of The Observatory over the years. We wish Dean the best in his future endeavors,” said Anna Hehman, the Observatory’s executive director.
What’s next for the Observatory isn’t entirely clear. Hehman said to expect an update in the coming weeks.
Despite Regas’ departure, the science center is moving forward with educational programming, including an event for October’s partial eclipse.
“We’re excited for Greater Cincinnati to meet our emerging leaders in astronomy and outreach education,” added Alicia Culman, chair of the Cincinnati Observatory Board of Trustees. “Our outstanding outreach and education teammates will continue to lead inspiring school and community events and star-gazing opportunities.”
Regas plans to take some time to “let his calendar fill up,” he said. He doesn’t have a website for his professional endeavors just yet. But he said he plans to keep using his Instagram and Facebook accounts for regular live broadcasts and videos about all things space.
“I take great pride in being kind of Cincinnati’s astronomer, and I’m looking forward to reaching out to other places to hopefully be the astronomer to the world.”