-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
special guest Valentin Grigore
design Florin-Alexandru Stancu-

I hope this law is not a shock:
Astronomy is in each clock!

Certainly, the best natural clock is the Sun,
usually represented by people as red on a blue sky.
But the clocks made by people
normally have contrasting colours,
for a better recognition of the signs of time.
However, in March 2013
I found out a sun-clock-color analogy
on the tower of a Bucharestian church, Saint Mina,
with a clock consisting of two circles,
a red one surrounded by a blue one.

This made think that the simplest astronomical gesture
is to watch the time reflected by a clock.
Thus, one of the forms of respect to astronomy
is given by the number of the public clocks in a town
and especially by their emplacements.
In this sense I chose three of the
most beautiful and important buildings in Bucharest:
the CEC, the North Railroad Station and the Justice Palace,
not before writing:

Special visions can
Make life much fuller, so we
Can enlarge this stock
If we see as an
Astronomical agent
Any public clock.


The Saint Mina Church is connected to the memory of the
Romanian “voievode” and “domnitor”
Constantin Brancoveanu (1675-1714),
and it was created in 1725 by his friend and official at his court, Vergu,
along with one of his 7 daughters, Ancuta.
Constantin Brancoveanu, who launched a Romanian style in architecture
(nicknamed “Romanian baroc”,
which became the basis for the neo-Romanian style),
was beheaded at Constantinople together with all his 4 sons
and his brother-in-law Ianache Vacarescu
by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III
just because they did not accept to change their religion
from Christian-Orthodox into Muslim.

Sometimes history is so strange!

Ahmed III appears as a cultural reformer for the Ottoman times
(promoter of the Tulip Age),
while for the Romanians he appears as a sinister criminal,
who called even the Western ambassadors to watch
the “show” of the Brancoveanu men’ s massacre.

The Saint Mina Church is small, but elegant,
and more times it was renovated and even rebuilt.
In 2006 it was adorned by musical bells and clocks
connected to an artificial satellite of the Earth.
And of course, as a sky lover, I visited this church in March 2013
(unfortunately, the clock didn’t work,
being in running repairs)
interested in its older artistic representations of the Cosmos,
and among others I found out a painting with the Divine Eye
(which certainly is not the Helix Nebula from Sagittarius,
as many too enthusiastic journalists try to force a comparison).


The first clock building I chose in Bucharest
was the House of Economies (CEC Palace).
This institution was created in the 1860s by the Union Monarch,
Alexandru Ioan Cuza,
then King Carol I especially involved in the creation of this palace,
made by an international team in 1897-1900.

Certainly, it was a joy for me to look for
the Cosmos in its artistic details
and its clock which perfectly works at any time,
sometimes with the Sun and the Moon very close.


Inside the Saint Mina Church I was impressed to see
a multitude of suns painted on the stained glass windows.


The second clock building I chose in Bucharest
was the North Railway Station,
one of the largest in Europe,
which was built in 1868-1872 by an international team
under the authority of King Carol I.
The right side-annex, artistic suns,
the monument of the Romanian railway heroes with a winged wheel
(another symbol inspired by the Sun),
the clock tower, the close Railway Palace,
the sunset, the moon…


When I left the Saint Mina Church
a beautiful sunset made me think how small we are
in comparison with the great symbols of humanity,
while the sky seemed to be colored by the blood
of the Brancoveanu men.


The third clock building I chose in Bucharest
was the Justice Palace.
It was also built by an international team around the 1900s
with the personal involvement of King Carol I.
I found out there a richness of sculpted stars and justiciary deities,
which inspired me to try to photographically catch the building
along with the Sun and the Moon.
But the clock was fastened at a fixed time.
That’s why sometimes the Sun breaks the clouds,
admonishing the administration of this building that
the improvement of Romanian justice may begin
with more respect to the astronomical laws.


Disappointed that I could not see Comet Pan-STARRS in Bucharest
I returned to the Saint Mina Church in 17 March 2013
and I found it with multicolored lights
and connected to the… natural satellite of the Earth.
I poetically smiled:

To be connected to an artificial satellite
Could be expensive and risky
While to the natural satellite of the Earth
The connection is always free.

Actually the church had also another high guest in that evening:
the planet Jupiter.

In 13 April 2013
I saw a magnolia in the court of the Saint Mina Church
and I thought that a tree may be the sky with flowers
and the sky may be a tree with stars.



Regarding the 6th victim of Sultan Ahmed III,
the nobleman Ianache Vacarescu,
it is to note that he was the grand-father of the poet
Ienachita Vacarescu (1740-1797),
who was the father of two other remarkable Romanian poets,
Alecu Vacarescu and Iancu Vacarescu,
the last one being the grand-father of
Elena (Helene) Vacarescu (1864-1947),
an amazing character in Romanian history.
Writer and dramatist,
she was exiled to France because she lived a forbidden love with
Prince Ferdinand (future king of Romania).
In France
she received awards from the French Academy for his literary works
and represented Romania at the Nations Society.
In 1994 a crater on the planet Venus was named after her
by the International Astronomical Union
(a traditional decision for literary personalities).

I think that Elena Vacarescu deserved this decision even more than others,
at least for the astropoetic stanza below
which I found out in a poem, Prayer,
written in the Romanian language when she was young
(my translation):

“And the thinking stars, and all skies
In this abyssal heart to sink,
And it to model supreme, enthusiastic songs,
Which swing all suns through space waves.”

a wonderful renascence of the Vacarescu family!

In their memory
Valentin Grigore went to their past estate near the town of Targoviste,
Vacaresti-Bungetu, in 19 March 2013,
where, luckier, he could catch the main comet of that semestre:

-photographic poem by Valentin Grigore-


© 2014 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)