An Introduction to Aboriginal Astronomy
This book gives you an easy-to-read introduction to what we know about Aboriginal Astronomy, and the current state of research into this area.
Each of the 400 different Aboriginal cultures in Australia has a distinct mythology, ceremonies, and art forms, some of which have a strong astronomical component. Many share common traditions such as the “emu in the sky” constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, Orion, and the Pleiades. Several use the rising and setting of particular stars to indicate the time to harvest a food source, and some link the Sun and Moon to tides, and even explain eclipses as a conjunction of the Sun and Moon.
Thse traditions reveal a depth and complexity of Aboriginal cultures which are not widely appreciated by outsiders. This book explores the wonderful mystical Aboriginal astronomical stories and traditions, and the way in which these are used for practical applications such as navigation and harvesting. It also describes the journey of exploration which is opening Western eyes to this treasury of ancient Aboriginal knowledge.
Click on the picture on the right to see a sample page of the booklet.
It's written by Prof. Ray Norris (an astrophysicist with CSIRO, and an Adjunct Professor at the Dept. of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University), and his wife Cilla. They have spent the last five years studying Aboriginal Astronomy.
Their research has included:
- uncovering little-known academic manuscripts,
- visiting Aboriginal sites throughout Australia, including the Sydney rock-art,
- spending time with the Yolngu communities in Arnhem Land.
New: Listen to Ray and his friends talking about Aboriginal Astronomy on the ABC TV's "Message Stick" program on http://www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s2730570.htm
Purchasing this Booklet
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An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy
By Ray and Cilla Norris
- The Milky Way and the Emu
- The Magellanic Clouds
- Sun, Moon, and Eclipses
- Calendars and Constellations
- Morning Star, Evening Star
- Astronomical measurements
The booklet is A5 size (148mm x 210mm), has 30 pages (excluding endnotes and cover), is illustrated with 22 colour photos, and printed on high-quality gloss-finish paper..
About the authors
Ray Norris is an astrophysicist at the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility. Born in England, he obtained an MA in theoretical physics at Cambridge, followed by a PhD and postdoc in radio-astronomy at Manchester, while also studying the astronomy of ancient standing stones. In 1983, Ray and his family moved to Australia where he joined CSIRO, and now researches the formation and evolution of the first galaxies in the Universe, and also the astronomy of Aboriginal Australians. He was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the Macquarie University Dept. of Indigenous Studies (Warawara) in 2008.
You can hear Ray talking on Radio National about his work with Wardaman elder Bill Yidumduma Harney on ABC Artworks: The First Astronomers
Cilla Norris has been an artist, high school teacher, veterinary nurse, wildlife sanctuary guide, and wild-life carer. As well as working with Ray on Aboriginal Astronomy, she is known as an authority on the care and rehabilitation of possums, and writes and teaches about possums to the NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) and other groups.
Emu Dreaming is a registered Australian Business (ABN 19639499560), run by Cilla. The goal of Emu Dreaming is to promote outreach and research in Australian Aboriginal Astronomy. All proceeds from sales on this website support research on Aboriginal Astronomy.