Howlite means crystal vault

The proper motions of the fixed stars

The wonders of the starry world pp 250-255 | Cite as


We know the magic wand that opens up the mysterious spaces of heaven for us, that transforms those symbols of eternal, undisturbed rest, those golden nails on the crystal vault of the ancient philosophers into space-filling, moving worlds. We know that this magic is based in nothing else than the same prudent test by which we distinguish a real landscape from a painting. This test must provide us with evidence of an equal or different distance between the individual objects in the landscape. The decisive factor here is the perception of one's own movement of the objects themselves or of changes in which our personal movement is reflected outside. A doubt could only arise as to which of the two causes the perceived changes are to be ascribed to, the real, independent movement outside, or the reflection of our own. But even this doubt can be resolved from the type and direction of the perceived movements. A transfer of our own movement to the outside world will always express itself with a certain regularity and reveal a certain calm in the direction of our movement. When we wandered through a forest, it will not have escaped us that the trees facing us did not seem to change their position. But if we paid attention to the objects on the right and left, it will have seemed to us as if they spread out to the right and left.

You seemingly calm, violent one,

Open your shadow's gray mouth,

Let the old power be known without magic!

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1913

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