-text and photos by Dan Uza-

I perused in an older extract from a local newspaper
about Romulus Irimes,
the leader of a group of amateur astronomers
that was very active in the city of Cluj-Napoca in the 1970s.
Here is that article:

-by Corneliu Apetroaiei-

Too few inhabitants of the Baciu village next to Cluj-Napoca
remember that 30 years ago
an observatory existed over there,
used for astronomical research and built by the electronist of the local mill.
His name was Romulus Irimes,
and he made alone this particular astronomical observatory
unique in Transylvania.

“I met him in the 1960s and he was a great lover of astronomy.” -
told me one of his friends, Mircea Corpodean
(a member in the teaching staff of Technical University in Cluj-Napoca).
“At that moment, Irimes just began to build that observatory,
using old refractory bricks received from his colleagues.
I personally helped him to build the cupola.
So he worked at the mill during the day time
and slept at the observatory during the night time,
where he finally died.”

That was a remarkable time for Clujean astronomy.

“Irimes was the president of the Victor Anestin Astronomical Circle
and he weekly organized astronomical conferences
at the Cluj Municipal House, and, later, at the Student House.” -
continued Corpodean.
“He was an extraordinary man,
he knew to mobilize people, he knew to deliver attractive speeches.”

Irimes edited even a magazine, “Astronomia”.

“Its circulation was limited, but many amateur astronomers bought it.” -
reminded Corpodean.

And Dr. Tiberiu Oproiu, a researcher at the Cluj Observatory
of Romanian Academy, completed:

“Everybody knew Irimes, and his astronomical activity gave good results.
Thus, he published materials in the French magazine “L’Astronomie”
and was a member of the French Astronomical Association.”

Today the condition of Irimes’ observatory is uncertain.

“After the death of Irimes, the observatory died, too.
His fellows didn’t continue astronomical activities over there.” -
said Corpodean.

And now… more imposing villas have appeared in that zone,
and the terrain of the observatory seems to be abandoned.
Its perimeter is fenced and hardly accessible,
but its cupola is still visible among the branches of trees.
Will there be solutions for the revival of the observatory?
Or will it remain just a memory about an admirable man
who enthusiastically loved the stars?

-2005 September 6-

So beyond his achievements in astronomy,
I found out that Romulus Irimes had built an observatory
on a hill near Cluj-Napoca,
and one day in February 2012
I decided to start to that objective,
accompanied by even Mircea Corpodean
(the former bosom friend of Irimes being a pensioner now)
and Marian Niculescu (the president of Borealis Astroclub in Cluj-Napoca).

Geographically, the place is good for astronomical observations,
the observatory being situated on a hill orientated to south-east,
over a gas station near the Baciu Way, surrounded by trees and high bushes,
so that its cupola seems hidden from the curious eyes.

The access toward the top is difficult, especially on snow,
plus a fence at the hill base.
A real sanctuary 30 years ago, now it seems desolate.

Then a warning: NO ADMITTANCE.
Probably, a relic from the time of Irimes.

We continued to advance and saw a sloppy coat right on the door.
Did it belong to Irimes?

I doubt that the objective is utilized today…
Certainly not for its initial destination, astronomy.
And this is regrettable and sad, because, for the time being,
the place is full of things forgotten by years.

All that remains is nostalgia,
and Mircea Corpodean’s memories of youth (to whom I thank for them)
about the Irimes era in Clujean astronomy.

Some of them are photographs…

Irimes (on the centre)
and astronomical presentations for students at Cluj Napoca:

Some of Irimes’ fellows
(Atanasie Popa, Tibor Kalman and Mircea Corpodean):

Irimes at the Bucharest Municipal Observatory
next to its coordinator, Ioan Corvin Sangeorzan (on the left):

There are also copies of the magazine Astronomia…

… in which I found out even an astropoem…

-by Mircea Corpodean-

Man, you always wanted
to wander among the stars,
today your desire does not break
today you can make this step.
Thousands of stars, zillions
await and call us,
step by step to make this step,
step by step.

Irimes prematurely died
and together with him an entire nucleus of Clujean astronomy.
His legal successors claimed rent from Irimes’ fellows
who wanted to use the observatory,
but no agreement was possible.

The astronomers’ circle remained a point,
and the observatory of the old Clujean astroclub
became the ghost of his creator…


Adaptation after Dan Uza’s materials
originally published in Romanian in his blog “Cercul de Stele”.
English translation from the Romanian: Andrei Dorian Gheorghe.
Design: Florin Stancu
© 2012 Borealis Astroclub and SARM