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Australian Indigenous Astronomy

The First Astronomers: Education in the Pilbara

20 Jan 2014, 01:27 UTC
The First Astronomers: Education in the Pilbara
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by Dr Andi HorvathAs Australia has the oldest continuous culture on Earth, the first Australians were very likely to have also been the first astronomers. In 2008 CSIRO astrophysicist Ray Norris set out with wildlife expert Cilla Norris to learn, collect and document the stories of Australian Aboriginal astronomy from community elders who were the custodians of these stories.There are hundreds of different Aboriginal cultures, and therefore as many different stories about the night skies. Some have been lost since colonisation and some were sacred, private knowledge. One thing was universal: Indigenous Australians valued the sun, moon and stars for information about seasonal survival, but also for its keeping of culture and story.How to find the emu in the sky: Find the dark patch of sky between the SouthernCross and the pointers. The dark area is known as the Coalsack by astronomers,which are dense clouds of interstellar dust. The Coalsack forms the head of theemu and stretching to the left is its long dark neck. Its roundish body is next toScorpius and its legs are towards the horizon. Images: Barnaby Norris.There are hundreds of different Aboriginal cultures, and therefore as many different stories about the night skies. Some have been ...

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