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Hans Schohl /
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CELESTIAL MECHANICS

How close can you get to a star, how close are you allowed to get: 'Don't try to reach for the stars' is what we keep being told as a faint-hearted admonition to stay modest and 'down-to-earth'. And yet billions and billions are invested each year all over the world in focussing telescopes and state-of-the-art computing systems on this one thing: the exploration of the stellar systems, the unfathomable reaches, space: the final frontier...

But these have long since stopped being attempts to get hold of some samples of a poetically miraculous firmament. And the once so dangerous question of which star's revolution around what und how, has long stopped shocking anybody or anything. The church elders have made their peace with the idea that the earth revolves around the sun, and the rest of the world remembers the details only when asked and even then only in fragments, for what we all learned early on at school has to suffice as an explanation of the world: 'The sun rises in the east, travels through the sky in the south and finally sets in the west.' Period.

Just to remind you: Sirius is eight light years away, Polaris 470, the Crab Nebula 3,900 light years ... Well, do we know more now? Have we gotten any closer to the stars? How can we imagine the length even of one light year, and what would it change if somebody found out that there'd been a mistake in the calculations and Polaris turned out to be only 469 light years away? Basically, to us the stars only exist any more as numbers in some complicated equations; they are the vague results we get from the addition of computer generated columns of figures. Telescopes, bringing the visible into reach, have become no more than rusty sentimental museum pieces, and more generally speaking, our sensually comprehensible relationship with the stars has long since come to stardust und been blown away.

So what can we do? Here's what: Just push the heavenly roof aside a bit, show the figure-obsessed world the moon of your behind, put your head through the firmament and stand admiring the celestial mechanics if you're looking for a manual, the use of the catalogue at hand is highly recommended. You are invited now to enter Hans Schohl's houses made of steel. Please raise your head up high und with your naked eye and a liberated soul follow the movements of the celestial mechanics and of the shadows they cast. There is a bit of reality in both of them, a grain of truth and the mysterious poetry of direct observation, creating new und very individual worlds a firmament under the roof of your own skull.

Georg Mertin