by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe

(1.Admiral Vasile Urseanu Bucharest Municipal Observatory;
2.Moon and Venus):
Valentin Grigore

Design: Florin Stancu

Victor Anestin founds Orion, the first Romanian astronomical magazine.
Ion Ottescu publishes “Romanian Peasants’ Beliefs in Stars and Sky”,
a guide of Romanian astromythology,
under the sigle of Romanian Academy.

Victor Anestin founds the first Romanian astronomical society.
Spiru Haret, Minister of Public Instruction
(and the first Romanian astronomer in this position)
decides that every Romanian school to subscribe to the magazine Orion.
Astronomers Nicolae Coculescu and Spiru Haret establish in Bucharest
the first Romanian state observatory.

Admiral Vasile Urseanu, President of the
Flammarion Romanian Astronomical Society, establishes
his particular observatory (now the Bucharest Municipal Observatory).

Victor Anestin publishes “Learning the Stars”,
the most beautiful Romanian astronomical guide.

These were some important elements of the golden astronomical age
in Romania,
an era from which this time I have decided to refer to
two moving essays published in the magazine Orion,
which reveal an admirable poetical-astronomical language.

The first of them was published in the opening issue of Orion
(September 1907)
by I. Corbu, a Romanian astronomer from Transylvania
(which was a province of the Habsburg Empire then,
and after the First World War became a part of Romania).
The essay was entitled “Ad Astra”,
was dedicated just to the magazine Orion,
and here are some significant excerpts:

“To edit a magazine of popular astronomy for the large public
is an idea which deserves to be saluted (…)

Only the astronomical knowledge can perfect the people,
making them become aware of their position in the Universe.

Without astronomical knowledge,
the people are not superior to the worms
which drags chaotically and do not know where they go.
And there are so many intellectuals, writers, poets and artists
who lead cultural movements and do not understand
how necessary the astronomical instruction is.
They do not understand that over them
the real world begins, with wonderful and boundless horizons (…)

All sciences influence favourably the cultural, moral and sentimental evolution
of humanity,
but no one can be compared with astronomy,
which can become even a religion for a cultured man (…)

The aspect of the universe above climbs you so much over
small passions and usual concerns!
Astronomy can preach better than anyone the idea of peace,
putting Man and Earth in front of the Universe
and showing how small and isolated they are (…)

So when you pass through moments of depression,
when all your efforts for the good and truth seem to be useless,
when the evil and sin seem to triumph everywhere,
when you don’t find any caress,
then climb your soul into the universe,
to refresh your forces.
Beneath you, the Earth becomes faded,
losing its details,
remaining like a luminous disk,
taking first the aspect of the moon
and then the aspect of a far star.
In fact, now there are stars all around you,
and you are in the universe,
your real homeland (…)

This magnificent spectacle will toughen you in the fight of life
and will convince you that the only happiness and the mission of humankind
is the aspiration for beauty, truth and good.

So that be welcome Orion,
and move the souls from the darkness and the narrow daily circle
by enlarging their horizons to the sky, ideal, perfection…”

The second essay, entitled “Bernard H. Vermont”,
was written by even Victor Anestin,
was dedicated to the memory of one of the most famous
Romanian amateur astronomers,
and published in the January 2008 issue of the magazine Orion.
Here are also a few excerpts:

“Bernard H. Vermont lived among us, but too few of us knew his real value.
He died, but too few of us understood the dimension of this loss
for our country (…)

I knew him after his fame,
I knew that he was an appreciated member of the French astronomical society,
that he exchanged letters with even Camille Flammarion,
but I never saw him (…)

Vermont was both an encyclopaedist and a self-educated,
he learned alone even mathematic astronomy (…)

He knew that too few people really love the sky,
but he was delighted with their friendship, which was enough for him (…)

‘This life is too villainous’ he used to say,
‘there must be another one to recompense all the troubles we endure here.’

If there is another life and if there are other worlds,
then Vermont’s soul must be glad by leaving the small and big miseries
of this world.
And maybe in these moments he is staying on a fine planet
that turns round a coloured double sun.
Maybe he is watching our sun that seems a humble star,
and is thinking that, although happy over there,
he has left on a minuscule planet around that poor sun
all his precious things.”

Additionally, I have chosen for the final a quite amazing letter
received by Victor Anestin from a ploughman (I. Somacescu from Gorj County),
which he published in 1908 also in the magazine Orion:

“Mister Victor Anestin:
After you announced a lunar eclipse,
I called the people from my village to see the phenomenon at the fixed hour.
First they did not believe me, but then they saw it through their eyes
and gave me the trust to continue to tell them stories and explanations
about the main stars and their importance in the infinite…”

Victor Anestin’s conclusion was:

“This ploughman has achieved more than many rich people:
the soul peace, the well-being,
the pleasure to live more intelligent than others…”


© 2010 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)