Indige­nous as­tronomers were at work be­fore the An­cient Greeks

Dubbo Photo News - - Dubbo Weekender - By JOHN RYAN

DID you know that there are an­cient Abo­rig­i­nal names for places across our so­lar sys­tem?

Fea­tures on Venus, Mars and Pluto were named by Indige­nous as­tronomers way be­fore the an­cient Greeks got into the act.

This cul­tural knowl­edge doesn’t stop there.

In­cred­i­ble as it is that Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple could have even known about Pluto’s ex­is­tence, how about this – there are also Indige­nous names for fea­tures on four of Saturn’s moons, one of Uranus’ moons and a few as­ter­oids thrown in for good mea­sure.

If that im­presses you, and you’d like to learn more, it’s a sim­ple process to dip your toe in the wa­ter.

The le­gends of the night sky will come alive next week­end at Welling­ton Caves (Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 6) when a PHD re­searcher for the Wi­rad­juri Com­mu­nity As­tron­omy Project will guide lo­cals through the night sky, high­light­ing both the clas­si­cal and some Wi­rad­juri con­stel­la­tions as part of a Mid-mac­quarie Land­care aware­ness-rais­ing se­ries of work­shops.

Trevor Lea­man from the Univer­sity of NSW has spent years com­pil­ing his knowl­edge of the an­cient le­gends in the cos­mos from Indige­nous cul­tural prac­tices and de­liv­ers his pre­sen­ta­tions in a hands-on, in­for­ma­tive and en­ter­tain­ing way.

As re­searchers like Trevor delve deeper into the his­tory of in­ter­ac­tion with the stars and plan­ets, it’s be­com­ing ever more ob­vi­ous that first peo­ple’s, and Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture in par­tic­u­lar, worked out ce­les­tial move­ments tens of thou­sands of years be­fore the an­cient Trevor Lea­man, a PHD Re­searcher with the Wi­rad­juri Cul­tural As­tron­omy Project, sup­plied this im­age show­ing the Wi­rad­juri Emu from his Stel­lar­ium project. Greeks, the clas­si­cal as­tronomers who have been cred­ited with fram­ing the way hu­mans see, un­der­stand and utilise the night sky.

The evening is free and there’ll be show­bags with sky sto­ries and star maps for you to get started on your own stargaz­ing jour­ney.

Some tele­scopes will be avail­able on the night but you can also bring your own, or a pair of binoc­u­lars.

Be at Welling­ton Caves around 7pm, the event fin­ishes at 8.30pm. It’ll be a great night out for the whole fam­ily and feel free to bring a pic­nic din­ner.

RSVP’S to Jean El­lis on 0457 115 525, 6845 1420 or email info@

You can also fol­low Mid-mac­quarie Land­care’s Face­book page for up­dates.

z John Ryan also works part-time for Mid-mac­quarie Land­care

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