To help keep readers plugged into Cincinnati life even as we continue to physically distance from each other due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CityBeat is highlighting a series of local podcasts and their creators every week. Read previous installments about "When Pigs Fly," "West End Stories," "Cincinnati Zoo Tails," "Cincy Brewcast," "Nature Vs. Narcissism" and "Person of Interest."
The "Looking Up" podcast explores the cosmos.Photo: Greg Rakozy, Unsplash
Curiosity isnt just the name of NASAs Mars rover. Its also the driving force behind Cincinnati Public Radios Looking Up podcast.
Twice a month, co-hosts Dean Regas and Anna Hehman talk about all things astronomy from the red, dying star Betelgeuse (up in the sky, not the fictional poltergeist made famous by actor Michael Keaton) to the periodic alignment of Saturn and Jupiter to NASAs citizen scientists programs.
And if things veer into the pop-culture realm when Star Trek's William Shatner makes a guest appearance, it's all the better to get more Cincinnatians interested in space.
According to Regas and Hehman, the purpose of the podcast is to spark curiosity and conversation about science in a way that is accessible and exciting.
The thing that is important, and I think what hopefully people get from this podcast, is just because you don't have this knowledge, you can have an interest and genuine curiosity about the universe and cosmos, Hehman tells CityBeat.
While Regas is considered an expert on observational astronomy as the Cincinnati Observatorys renowned educator and astronomer, Hehmans background is devoid of anything astronomical. She says she learns alongside the listener, and her dynamic with Regas provides a light-hearted crash course on astronomy that is intriguing for all ages.
If it was just Dean kind of explaining things in a vacuum, it would be great, of course, but the back and forth is what makes it feel more relatable and really bring some of these topics, like we say, down to Earth, Hehman says.
In each 30-minute episode, Hehman and Regas also interview guests, including NASA astronauts, celebrities from classic sci-fi shows, space-related authors and astrophysicists.
Regas explains that a key role of astronomers is to be great communicators between the technical aspects of astronomy and the discoverys relation to the public. With these interviews, Regas says he tries to impart the pivotal work of each guest while also making it relevant to the average person.
I try to be kind of the intermediary between the people making these awesome, incredible discoveries and kind of relating it to people to say, What does this actually mean or what does this actually do for us? he says.
Notable guests have included Shatner (Star Treks Captain James Kirk), Paul Zaloom (who played the titular character onBeakman's World), Phil Plait (Twitter personality The Bad Astronomer and writer on Netflixs Bill Nye Saves the World)and Ann Druyan (writer/editor/producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odysseyand Carl Sagans widow).
In an upcoming episode, Hehman and Regas will interview a Cincinnati-born engineer that worked on NASAs latest Mars rover, Perseverance.
Hehman says she loves talking to the guests because of their palpable excitement for their work and space in general, which always enhances the key insights that they bring to the show.
In addition to the science-centric topics, Hehman and Regas like to add comedy and commentary. Each episode of Looking Up has a segment called The Crank File, in which Hehman and Regas look at astronomers theories from the 1800s to 1900s and try to debunk them with modern knowledge. Another segment has Regas answering space-related questions submitted by kindergarteners.
With a field as nebulous as astronomy, Regas and Hehman say they never have to fear running out of episode topics.
I think there's so many different topics to cover and so many new discoveries. I mean, I always like to say that astronomy stories are always like good news stories. Theyre always very positive, Regas says.
That ties into the podcasts title, Looking Up, both in the practicality of astronomy and as a philosophy on life.
That idea of the looking up is a little bit of a philosophy also, Regas says. Especially for this past year, we've been really trying to be very positive about things. That's actually kind of part of our thingwe're real positive about the future, were positive about things going on.
Looking Up is released twice per month. It can be accessed via Cincinnati Public Radio, Appleor wherever you listen to podcasts.
See the article here:
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