Text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
Design Florin Alexandru Stancu
Special guest astrophotographer Valentin Grigore

These three images (which I took in 2018 October 25 in Bucharest)
stimulated my imagination,
suggesting a few consecutive fantastic ideas about their content:

-the Moon as a creation of the clouds;

-the pass of time;

-an illusory comet, with the Moon as nucleus and the clouds as tail;

-an old rock church of Namaiesti, Arges County, Romania,
in which the spire was added to the natural rock formation.


In 2018 November 4
I arrived in Namaiesti,
a village in which, coincidentally,
the founder of SARM, Valentin Grigore,
spent a part of his childhood.

I went to the local rock church,
having in my mind a painting with its view,
which had been made in 1901 by Nicolae Vermont,
a Romanian remarkable artist of Jewish origin,
which had fallen in love with the Romanian village.

It is also to note that he had a brother, Bernard Vermont,
who was a mathematician
and a pioneer in the calculus of the astronomical ephemerides in Romania.

But today the Namaiesti rock church seems to be supra-agglomerated
by the annexes which were built after the 1990s,
which perturb its original view.

The Namaiesti Church was initially a cave,
used by Geto-Dacian priests for worship to their supreme god Zamolxis.

It is said that Saint Andrew came here
with an icon representing Saint Mary and Child Jesus
which had been painted by Saint Luke
(in fact, one of the twelve icons of this kind),
but he found the place empty and said: “Nemo est.” (“Nobody is here.”),
this happening giving the name adopted by the village.

Later, around 1290
the legendary founder of the Romanian Land of Wallachia, Negru Voda,
also came here
and adapted the cave to Christianity.

During the 1500s
the place began to be expanded as a monastery.

Inside the rock church I could see Saint Luke’s icon,
very similar to that kind of painting named Black Madonna,
which can be found in a few European countries.

However, on spite of (or just because of) the emotion of such a visit,
I couldn’t stop to imagine a view of the church from above,
and it truly looked like a comet,
with the spire as nucleus
and the rock formation as tail.

Like a comet,
A church can have solar tendencies.
But the church stays fixed on Earth,
While the comet goes through the abyss.

Then 2018 December
brought a fine surprise in the sky:

a real comet, 46C Wirtanen,
which was photographed by…
even Valentin Grigore!


© 2019 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)