By Andrei Dorian Gheorghe

“Come with us to admire
the splendors of the starry sky.
Look at the bright stars and discover
He Who Created The Light.”
-Valentin Grigore-

Under this motto, Valentin Grigore founded the Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy (SARM) in 1993, imprinting to it a special motto, astronomy-culture-art-education-society.

In 2009 Astronomers Without Borders organized, during the International Year of Astronomy, the largest ever world astronomical festival, 100 Hours of Astronomy, with 2400 events in 100 countries (in which SARM organized in Targoviste “the second largest event”), and in 2010 they assumed to organize annually the Global Astronomy Month, along with many other international programs and campaigns of observations and creativity in astronomy.

Thus, AWB became the global unifying organization for celebration and popularization of astronomy, in which SARM became an enthusiastic member.

Since a recent plan of AWB is to organize a meeting of the national coordinators, Valentin Grigore and SARM made a major step in this sense in 2018 October 17-21, organizing in Targoviste (the former Capital City of the Romanian Land) an International Astro-Fest with the participation of more leading members of AWB, which included a special AWB Session of lectures.

To present this event, I chose only 25 pictures (from a few hundred photos) which I took during those amazing days just because, on that occasion, SARM celebrated… 25 years of existence.

Introduction to Targoviste International Astro-Fest 2018:

Dracula’s Tower Chindia (15th century)

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Crepuscular rays over the Targoviste City Hall

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Dambovita Museum of History (seat of Targoviste International Astro-Fest 2018)

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A SARM (Welcome) Cosmopoetry Poster (astropoetry mottos on a picture by Valentin Grigore)

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Astronomers Without Borders and other special guests at Targoviste, from left to right: Mirel Birlan (Paris Observatory, president of the Romanian National Committee for Astronomy), Roger Ferlet (emeritus director of research of Paris Institute of Astrophysics and Sorbonne University, vice-president of the French Astronomical Society, French representative for AWB), John Goldsmith (Australia, member of AWB-The World At Night, Celestial Visions producer), Valentin Grigore (AWB national coordinator for Romania, president of SARM), Mike Simmons (founder president of AWB), Jessica Santascoy (social media coordinator of NASA’s Night Sky Network, Astronomy Communications & Outreach strategist for AWB), Roger Hambleton (AWB national coordinator for UAE), Johannes Stübler (AWB international ambassador and national coordinator for Austria), Audrey Fischer (founder of  One Star At A Time and the Global StarPark Network, consultant on light pollution for AWB). Greg Fischer (USA, amateur astronomer and president of Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery)

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The SARM celebration through the Targoviste International Astro-Fest was financed by the Romanian Ministry of Youth (where Valentin Grigore had won a national contest of projects) and the local authorities (Targoviste Mayoralty and Dambovita County Council), being part of a larger national celebration, the Centenary Year of the Great Romanian Union.

The event included:

-nine sessions of lectures (on diverse themes of research, history, education and popularization in astronomy, astrophotography and fight against light pollution), a large international exhibition of astrophotography, more Romanian posters and foreign posters (from AWB, International Dark Sky Association and Linz Astronomical Society - for 400 years since Johannes Kepler published the 3rd law of the planets), presentations of books and magazines, and an international cosmopoetry show at the Dambovita Museum of History;

-an open air section in the Targoviste central square;

-other exhibitions (a national one of astroart by Romanian children, given by the Suceava Observatory, and one for persons with disabilities) at the Dambovita Library;

-cultural visits (the Museum of Paleontology and the Monarchical Court in Targoviste) and an excursion (the Peles Castle in Sinaia and the New Jerusalem Monastery in Pucioasa). 

Along with Astronomers Without Borders, other special guests were the Romanian-French astronomer Mirel Birlan (from the Paris Observatory, an asteroid being named after him) and Vitalie Chistol (director of the Chisinau Observatory), Stefan Tiron (from the Academy of Sciences of Moldova) and teacher Ion Nacu (all three from the Republic of Moldova).

Among the Romanian personalities: Jan Ovidiu Tercu (leader of a team who discovered a few variable stars and an asteroid), Ciprian Vintdevara (discoverer of a red nova), Dimitrie Olenici, Erika Lucia Suhay, Marian Naiman, Nicoleta Pasmany, the astrophotographers Attila Munzlinger, Gabriel Corban and Catalin Beldea, and others, representing planetariums and state observatories or private observatories (Galati, Barlad, Suceava, Horodnic de Jos, Vega), astronomical associations (Astronomer Disciple, Sirius, Urania, the Hungarian Astronomical Association of Transylvania), astroclubs (Bucharest, ORION-Tulcea, Meridian Zero-Oradea, Orion-Luteni Iasi, SARM Gorj, Orion Junior-Pitesti), the Astronomical Institute of Romanian Academy and other national institutes (for Earth Physics, for Space Science, for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics), the magazine “Stiinta si Tehnica”, Craiova University, the Romanian Society for Cultural Astronomy, Research X Development (3D), the National Naval Academy, CRESTEM (the Association for STEM Creative Education).

Usually, the lectures were in English or in Romanian with projections in English, the event having a translator on duty, Cristian Danescu (technical vice-president of SARM).

-four sessions were truly special: Astronomers and the Romanian Union, the AWB session, the gala session (with a few awards for excellent services in various fields of astronomy) and a movie session (including a musical video-clip, “It’s Snowing on the Moon” by Gelu Claudiu Radu and SARM - with Dan Mitrut as “star” - and an Australian long movie, “The Borderless Sky, the Aboriginal Sky of Australia” by Taglicht Media - with John Goldsmith as “star”; he also presented an exceptional album of astrophotography on the southern sky, The Universe - Yours to Discover).

Photo-series II - Sequences from Lectures:

Valentin Grigore (Romania) and Mike Simmons (USA)

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Mirel Birlan (Romania-France)

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Audrey Fischer (USA)

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Roger Ferlet (France)

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Mike Simmons (USA)

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Valentin Grigore (Romania)

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Targoviste International Astro-Fest 2018 also included an open air festival in the central square (“Tricolorul”) of the city.

The opening ceremony was honored by the AWB group, the popularizer of sciences Alexandru Mironov and the Romanian cosmonaut Dumitru Prunariu (who made an inter-active presentation with the spectators).

Then the public at large was invited: to visit the stands with telescopes (with the participation of two specialized firms, Telescop Expert and AstroLife), magazines, books, posters, experiments and astronomical souvenirs, including a stand of the International Dark Sky Association & One Star At A Time (where Audrey Fischer gave astro-presences to the children); and to observe by telescope the Sun, the planet Mars and the Moon.

Photo-series III (photographic poem) - Open Air Festival:

Sunrise at the Targoviste central square

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Opening Ceremony, from left to right: Roger Hambleton (Canada-UAE), John Goldsmith (Australia), Mike Simmons (USA), Mirel Birlan (Romania-France), Roger Ferlet (France), Alexandru Mironov (Romania), Johannes Stübler (Austria), Valentin Grigore (Romania) and cosmonaut Dumitru Prunariu

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People at stands

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Observing the Moon

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 “Seeing together
The new winter stars tonight
Watching over us.”
-Bob Eklund (USA, editor of AWB’s Astropoetry Blog,
who sent this haiku to Targoviste International Astro-Fest 2018)

After tens of SARM’s festivals, galas, shows, exhibitions and short presentations of cosmopoetry in Romania, an International Cosmopoetry Festival in the English language (Targoviste 1999, during SARM’s EuRoEclipse Perseids 99 event), fifteen astropoetry shows at the International Meteor Conference (1997-2011), an astropoetry show at a NASA Workshop (Leonid MAC Campaign, Tel Aviv 2000), another one at a Symposium of the International Astronomical Union (UNESCO-Paris 2009), another one at an International Dark Sky Parks Symposium (Monsec 2011) and a show of international astropoetry during the world festival of the Galilean Nights (Targoviste 2009, part of SARM’s local event which won the Outstanding Award), in 2018 October 20 I had the chance to direct an original AWB & SARM Cosmopoetry Show.

(In our vision, cosmopoetry = astropoetry in combination with other arts).

And because SARM is part of AWB, we can say that it was the first live cosmopoetry show of AWB.

During about 90 minutes, I performed from my astrostanzas, astroproverbs, astrtipurituras and even a musical-humorous astro-sketch, Mike Simmons (USA) gave a generous speech on humanist creativity in AWB, Vitalie Chistol (Republic of Moldova) recited an astronomical poem, "From the Star" by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889, the Romanian national poet), Audrey Fischer (USA) gave a speech on the necessity of a clean sky for education and creativity, Valentin Grigore, Alexandra Pocora, Sofia Ghiga (age 9!), Cosmin Sorin Miclos, Andreea Alecu and Erika Lucia Suhay (all from Romania) and Johannes Stübler (Austria), Jessica Santascoy (USA), Roger Hambleton (Canada-UAE) and John Goldsmith (Australia) recited their own astropoems, Roger Ferlet (France) spoke about the great popularizer of astronomy from the 19th century, Camille Flammarion (who used astronomical verses by classics in his opera), I also recited a haiku by Bob Eklund (USA) and astrostanzas by veterans of SARM’s astropoetry movement (Tit Tihon, Dominic Diamant and Zigmund Tauberg).

Obviously, English was the language of the Cosmopoetry Show, with a few bilingual (Romanian-English) moments and Roger Ferlet’s speech in French.

The main “star” of the Cosmopoetry Show was Dan Mitrut, who performed six astrofolk songs in Romanian (with short presentations in English by Ioana Mitrut and me).

The final (astro-humanist) speech of the show and the astrofest, about astronomy as an essential instrument for peace and harmony, belonged to Valentin Grigore.

“Astronomers will always find
Another new border
And will liberate it soon
Serving the stellar order.”
-Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-

Photo-series IV - Sequences from the Cosmopoetry Show:

Johannes Stübler (Austria)

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Jessica Santascoy (USA)

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Cosmin Sorin Miclos (Romania)

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Roger Hambleton (Canada-UAE)

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John Goldsmith (Australia)

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Dan Mitrut (Romania)

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Spectators listening to an astrofolk song by Dan Mitrut

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Andrei Dorian Gheorghe (Romania, photo by George Tanase)

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Standing applause for Valentin Grigore (the author of the concept of Targoviste International Astro-Fest 2018)

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