- photos and quotations by Valentin Grigore
text by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design by Florin Alexandru Stancu-

“A trip to Oradea with a starry luggage
and a halt at one of the best hostels where I ever camped.”
(Valentin Grigore)

“Oradea, the place of the former Prime Meridian
used for orientation by Christopher Columbus.
An extraordinary objective.”
(Valentin Grigore)

The Oradea fortress in Romania is a legendary place,
first mentioned as Varadinum (in Latin) in 1113,
and which in the 15th century, under Magyar domination
(when it was named Nagyvarad),
became the Prime Meridian of the Earth
(long before Paris and Greenwich)
thanks to the work of
the Magyar episcope (of Croatian origin)
Ianos Vitez of Sredna (project initiator),
the great Magyar King (whose father was Romanian)
Matthias Corvinus (project sustainer),
the Austrian astronomer Georg von Peuerbach,
who made here the first modern astronomical observatory in Europe
before the telescopic era,
and brought here his German disciple Regiomontanus
(future reformer of observational astronomy,
who later moved the observatory to Nurnberg),
the two astronomers publishing also here an important work
in the history of astronomy, Tabula Varadiensis.

September 2016 was the month in which Oradea celebrated,
right in the fortress,
10 years of activities of the Meridianul Zero (Prime Meridian) Astroclub.

On this occasion, the visitors of the fortress could admire
two exceptional exhibitions of photography:

Stefan Toth Istvan’s Collection of Photographic Techniques and Art,
and Valentin Grigore’s astrophotographies, Light from Universe.

“At my exhibition of astrophotography,
a lot of very interested people.
I explained each picture.”
(Valentin Grigore)

The Meridianul Zero (Prime Meridian) Astroclub was founded in 2006 in Oradea
by teachers Marin Dacian Bica and Nicoleta Pazmany.

Unfortunately, the first of them (who was also a coach
for the strong Romanian olympic team of astronomy)
died in 2013 in a tragic accident,
but his students wanted to perpetuate his memory
and won an international astronomical contest in 2014,
after which they obtained from the International Astronomical Union
the right to name an asteroid after Marin Bica!

Returning to the celebration of this astroclub, on September 14
Nicoleta Pazmany and her partners organized
a national symposium in the Oradea fortress
with the participation of many Romanian personalities in astronomy.

Teacher Nicoleta Pazmany also organized an astroart workshop for and with children,
in which a little girl, with the Moon painted on her check,
seemed to personify a lunar chapter from Tabula Varadiensis.

“Happy Birthday, Astroclub Meridian 0!
Anniversary cake with the Earth, Moon, and stars,
and chocolate used by astronauts on the orbit.”
(Valentin Grigore)

Moments of the dusk near the fortress…

It is said that in 1506 in Jamaica,
Christopher Columbus obtained an important ascendant over the locals
predicting a lunar eclipse after Tabula Varadiensis.

510 years later (2017-09-14),
right over the city which gave Tabula Varadiensis
and during the celebration of the Prime Meridian Astroclub,
Valentin Grigore photographically caught a lunar penumbral eclipse.

A meeting with the local authorities…

A city with amazing architecture.”
(Valentin Grigore)

Oradea is a city with about 200,000 inhabitants,
the largest in a historical province named Crisana (from the Cris Rivers)
as the Capital of the Bihor County in Greater Transylvania, North-West Romania,
which was initially inhabited by Geto-Dacians,
then the subject of more foreign invasions,
conquered by Magyars (who defeated the local “voievod” Menumorut)
in the 9th century, by Ottomans in the 16th century,
and by Habsburgs in the 18th century,
and which became part of Romania after World War I.

The exceptional multiculturalism of this city
created a fascinating visual aspect.

It is also remarkable that the Romanians
(who, although the oldest and the most numerous,
were only a “tolerated” nation in Transylvania)
made in 1784-1800 two beautiful churches (very close one to another)
in Oradea,
corresponding to their main beliefs, Orthodox and Greek-Catholic.

The Romanian Orthodox Church has remained a masterpiece,
being nicknamed the Church of the Moon
just because of an original mechanism.

“The Church tower has a metallic sphere
indicating the phases of the moon.
Now I can see that it's the Full Moon!”
(Valentin Grigore)

I know that the Moon
Has a lot of great friends,
But Oradea is quite a champion
Whose lunar friendship never ends.

-Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-


© 2017 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)