Culture is impossible without structure, and structure means regularity, the repetition of similar units of social behaviour. Astronomy as the oldest of natural sciences was always strongly connected with these regularities in human societies. Astronomical observations were important for temporal and spatial structuring daily life, providing orientation in a purely practical, but also in its spiritual meaning, thus connecting natural phenomena with astrological and religious interpretations of the world. The celestial sphere, regarded as the sky of astronomy and meteorology, as well as the heaven of divine numina, from the early times of Anaximander and Pythagoras till Copernicus and Kepler was equated with symmetry, harmony, and beauty. Till today this has been reflected in the structure of cultural creations, from architectural objects to musical forms. This broad conception of Astronomy in Culture will form the basis of the conference.
Graz, the capital of Styria and the second-largest city in Austria, is situated on the river Mur about 200 km southwest of Vienna, with a population of about 320.000 residents (in 2017). With 6 universities and 44.000 students Graz is a place of international encounter as well as intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. Karl-Franzens University is the oldest university in Graz, founded in 1585 by Archduke Karl II. Famous scientists were living and working in Graz, for example Johannes Kepler, Ludwig Boltzmann or Erwin Schrödinger.
The UNESCO honored the city by including in the World Heritage List the historic centre (1.12.1999) and Eggenberg Palace (1.8.2010), because of its “diversified and highly comprehensive ensemble of architectural, decorative and landscape examples of the interchanges of influence from many neighbouring regions of Central and Mediterranean Europe from the Middle Ages until the 18th century” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/931/).
Eggenberg Palace is a beautiful example of harmonious architectural skill: The building, commissioned in 1625 by Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, was erected on a rectangular plain in a large garden. It represents a precisely calculated cosmos: 365 exterior windows, 24 state rooms with 52 doors, a Planet Hall with paintings created by Hans Adam Weissenkircher showing the seven celestial bodies or the twelve signs of the zodiac.
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