-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

I began this project with Morning Venus and Morning Moon
near the main pillar of the Basarab passage in Bucharest,
a few hundred metres after it crosses the Dambovita River,
close to the railroads.

And I thought it would be nice to continue with this zone under the sign of the Sun:
morning colors, sunrises, a few close buildings
(the Railroads Palace, the Gambrinus Beer Factory,
the Elevator Tower - the tallest of this kind in Europe in the 1980s),
and, after crossing the railroads and watching back,
the Afternoon Sun with a tangent ark (18 January 2015).

Beyond the pillar of the Basarab passage near the railroads
I found out something very interesting.

That is an old house,
which has as sculptural leitmotif
a close between two heavenly bodies,
rather a conjunction between two planets -
because they are visible with the naked eye -
than a double star -
although this kind of stars was discovered in the 17th century
by Giovanni Battista Riccioli and then by Robert Hook.

This made me return to the inspiring form
of the Basarab passage over the Dambovita River in 11 January 2015,
where I tried to catch such a conjunction
and to try an astro-photo-poem:

On a winter day,
soon after sunset,
Venus and Mercury made me think
that two rugby teams
are like two planets
that superpose
their orbits

and give birth to
a rugby ball.

That because 2016 was the year of the 8th edition of the Rugby World Cup,
the 3rd event on Earth in the ranking of audience
(after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games),
for which Romania had qualified one year before,
being one of the 12 participants at all the editions.

A year with 3 major (and crescent) challenges for the Romanian national rugby team,
that inspired me to try more sequential connections
to the sky under which they happened.


For me, the former European Nations Cup had a celestial prologue
in 5 January 2015,
when I caught a solar halo right over the Dambovita River.

Then Romania (using the best team)
defeated Portugal in Lisbon, 37-10.

During the next week I caught
Sirius (the brightest star in that campaign),
Jupiter (promising to get closer to Venus),
the Crowned Moon, the Morning Moon,
and a sunrise with 3 suns (in fact, the Sun plus 2 spectacular reflections).

Then Romania (again in the best formula)
defeated Spain in Cluj, 29-8.

During the next two weeks I lived and interesting evening:
coming home from my job, I saw Jupiter,
then I made a pirouette and I saw the Moon and Venus.

But in 28 February Romania,
with many important absences and without its foreign coaches
(who didn’t receive visas from the Russian authorities),
surprisingly lost to Russia in Krasnodar, 13-16.

During the next two weeks I caught the Crowned Moon (28 February),
the Aureoled Sun (5 March) and a tangent ark (14 March).

Then Romania (again with more important absences)
hardly defeated Germany in Heidelberg, 17-12,
remaining however the strongest team in the Continental European Union
(so except for the 6 Nations of Tier 1).

The last week of the campaign was the most interesting:
-a partial solar eclipse during the Spring Equinox (20 March);
-the REC final with Georgia in Bucharest, score 6-15
(a very close match, decided by the shape of the transformers;
the Georgian one marked 5 penalty kicks of 5,
while the Romanians marked 2 of 5;
I personally tried to influence the result through a
Romanian traditional Easter Egg with solar motifs, but… useless!);
-after the match, the Moon’s Sickle one day after the New Moon,
crescent like the enthusiastic people’s hopes after a loss;
-and, in 24 March, a close between the Moon and the star Aldebaran,
just in the day when the Royal House of Romania decided
to patronize the Romanian Rugby Federation
(here we have a longer story, Romania being officially a republic,
but unofficially the real sovereign of this country being,
for many Romanian intellectuals and patriots,
King Mihai I,
who had been exiled by communists for a few decades…).


Waiting for the second challenge,
I selected images with the Aureoled Sun in April
and with the Moon among some interesting clouds in May,
before recognizing Arcturus as the brightest star
over the time of the World Rugby Nations Cup (former IRB Nations Cup).

In fact it was the second stage in preparing the participation at the Rugby World Cup,
for which Romania chose a large squad and split it into two teams.

The secondary team
(named Romania Under 23 by hosts and Romania A by visitors,
but being rather Emerging Romania)
played in 9 June a special guest right from the country that invented this game:
England Counties (the selected team of the 3rd English League,
that had pulverized Spain, Belgium, and even Emerging Georgia in the last years).

This friendly match was frustrating for Romanians,
who had 20-14, failed 2 penalty kicks when the score was 20-21,
and finally lost, 20-28,
but I would say that the Romanian (!) referee validated 2 incorrect tries for guests.

Anyway, at least I could see a beautiful sunset
on the National Rugby Stadium…

After 3 days the first Romanian team defeated Spain
in the beginning of the Nations Cup,
35-9 in a new derby of the European Union (without the 6 Nations of Tier 1).

For me, thinking that I saw a fascinating dusk,
it was rather celestial rugby…

And after the match I saw for the first time Venus and Jupiter
over the National Rugby Stadium.

In 17 June, Romania, as the representative of the European Union,
played the official champion of Africa (without South Africa, a Tier 1 team),
and obtained an impressive victory, 43-3.

The real Sun was rather hidden by clouds,
but the solar atmosphere was kept by the sun painted on the Namibian flag.

In the final of the competition,
on a rainy weather compensated by the sun painted on the Argentinean flag,
Romania played another continental champion, Argentina XV
(former Argentina Jaguars, the selected team of the Argentinean championship
and recent winner of the Americas Rugby Championship - against
Canada A, USA Select and Uruguay-,
combined with a few young players from Argentina Pampas XV,
recent winner of the Pacific Challenge - against the A teams of
Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, USA and Japan;
it is to remember that the first team of this country, Argentina Pumas,
is usually composed of players from European championships)
right on the day of the Summer Solstice.

It was probably the best match ever made by Romanians at this competition,
ended with a victory, 23-0,
through which Romania became the most titled team (3 trophies)
after 10 editions of the Nations Cup,
which had been also honored by other important rugby nations:
South Africa (Emerging Springboks and South African Kings), France (A),
Ireland (Emerging), Scotland (A), Italy (A and Emerging),
Georgia, Uruguay, Russia and Portugal.

I have to confess that on those days I watched the evolution of the close
between Venus and Jupiter after each of those matches (13, 19 and 22 June),
before returning to the leitmotif of this project,
this time with a different actor:

On spring-summer days,
soon after sunsets,
Venus and Jupiter made me think
that two rugby teams
are like two planets
that superpose
their orbits

and give birth to
a rugby ball.


In the end of July I caught some interesting sunrays
and the Moon becoming “blue” (the second Full Moon in the same month)
after almost 3 years.

In August, Romania began the warm up for the World Cup,
starting to its first tournament in the UK after 13 years.

If in 2002 Romania played 3 matches
(3-40 Wales, 18-21 Scotland A and 10-37 Scotland),
now it played only two:
10-10 Yorkshire Carnegie (from the second English professional league)
in 14 August
and 16-31 Edinburgh Rugby (recent runner up in the Challenge Cup)
in 22 August.

In 26 August, on the fountains boulevard in Bucharest,
I caught the Moon among the three branches lit by 4 variants of colors,
and I tried to combine those images
in alternation with 4 sunrises (27, 28, 29 and 30 August)
as a photographic poem:

In 31 August I caught a “complete” morning
with Venus (as Morning Star) and the sunrise.

Then, remarking the star Altair (also on the fountains boulevard)
from the constellation Aquila,
I hoped that the Romanian players will fly like the eagles at the World Cup.

In 5 September, the last warm up match on the National Rugby Stadium,
against the 11th place in the world, Tonga
(with recent wins over USA, Canada and Japan),
a rugby nation from the Pacific Ocean.

(Thus, I could say that, thanks to the variety of adversaries met by Romania in 2015,
even if I stayed in Bucharest,
I mentally travelled around the world).

This time Romania lost a close confrontation, 16-21,
decided by an incorrect essay.

In 9 September I remarked Vega
as the highest bright star above the coming World Cup,
then I catch the Moon and the Sun right before
the start of Romania in the supreme competition,
thinking that the Romanians had the Sun folkloricly modeled on their t-shirts

In 23 September, Romania played France (still world vice-champion)
on the Olympic Stadium in London,
91 years after the same teams played at the Olympic Games in Paris
a match for supremacy in Continental Europe
(obviously, it was a French victory, 59-3).

Now the match was close for a half of hour (score 3-3),
but the referee easily eliminated a Romanian prop
(and gave to France all the delicate decisions),
so the balance was broken and France finally won, 38-11.

In 27 September Romania played Ireland (winner of 6 Nations 2015)
on Wembley (89,267 spectators,
a new record of audience for the Rugby World Cup!)
and lost again, 10-44,
but gave after the match the most romantic moment of the competition,
a Romanian scum-half making the marriage proposal to his girlfriend
right on the grass of the stadium.

In 28 September I could not see a total lunar eclipse because of the clouds,
but soon after this unhappy (sportive and astronomical) series,
I re-found out the clear sky in the town of Braila (where I was for a short visit)
and I photographed the Moon and the star Rigel in the night,
the planet Venus in the morning,
and the Sun.

These inspired me to put all together
and to try the following astro-photo-poem:

What can we do
when the gates of infinity are closed?
What can we do?

Just to love the world as stars
melting the bed clouds
until the dreams come true.

In 6 October Romania played Canada (with recent wins over
Georgia, champion of the Rugby Europe Championship,
and Glasgow Warriors, champion of Pro 12-Celtic League)
in Leicester for a place in the first 16 reams of the competition.

Canada had 15-0 after 50 minutes,
but Romania made the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history,
changing the final result into 17-15!

In 11 October Romania played a Tier 1 team, Italy, in Exeter,
for a place in the first 12 teams of RWC 2015, and a place for RWC 2019,
handicapped by the superior (and strange) decision of the rugby authorities
to suspend its captain for a minor fault
and by a too short time of recovery (in comparison with its adversary),
elements which helped Italy to have 29-3 after 3 quarters of the match.

However, the Romanians tried another fabulous comeback
and marked 3 tries in the last 15 minutes,
but it was too late and the final result was 22-32.

After that I returned again to the leitmotif of the project,
this time with the same actors as Morning Stars:
19 October (plus the planet Mars),
24 October, 25 October, 28 October (with a vision over East Bucharest)
and 4 November (plus the Moon).

On autumn days,
short before sunrises,
Jupiter and Venus made me think
that two rugby teams
are like two planets
that superpose
their orbits

and give birth to
a rugby ball…


© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)