Understanding Australian Indigenous Astronomy

Astronomy Cast


Right. This week we focus on the ARCO astronomy of another part of the world, this time from the indigenous people of. Another group of people whose lives depended on knowing what was happening in the sky from season to season are Pamela got a big continent. Here of what is the evidence of archaic astronomy from the continent of Australia. Well, what's kind of cool with a stray Elliot's? It's not so much ARCHE of strana me as it's modern anthropology that allows us to look, Pat back on sixty five thousand years of history with, with the aboriginal tribes of gelia were looking at a couple hundred different language groups. We are looking at a continent that has been peopled for sixty five thousand years, that hasn't undergone the same kinds of destruction that civilizations here in north and South America. Underwent? And so as. As we talk with the people who are there today, we can hear into days oral tradition evidence of Frincis, a meteor impact that was thousands of years ago, a supernova that was thousands of years ago, and we still they still pay attention to these stories. This is still part of how they live their lives and why they do and don't go certain places, and it's, it's really amazing culture, and they look at space in such a different way instead of having four seasons. Many of the different nations of Australia, Mark out six different seasons of the year that are marked out with when different of the constellations rise on the horizon, some constellations Mark out, this is when you should go and gather the eggs, this is when. These animals can be expected to be breeding, the dingoes for instance, it's different. And we've both had the opportunity now to be in Australia. I was there almost a year ago, thanks to Dylan O'Donnell and, and his, his got to speak at his conference star stuff. And then we got Carlin, I went on a road trip north from there into the, the jungle part of stralia north of Brisbane, and it was like the skies. There are just there stunning like it's, it's not surprising that anyone who, who lived there. With out light pollution and saw that sky. And it is, it's a Canadian we have dark skies as well here, and I've seen plenty of Milky Way. But the core of the Milky Way is down by the horizon. We see a little bit of it over the summer when the when we get to see Sagittarius and Scorpio and some of those constellations than the rest of the year. It's, it's, it's fine. It's fine. But, but there it is just right. Overhead it blazes, the planets moved through it, right. Overhead. There's like Ayman, if you have seen dark skies, you have not seen Australian dark skies. They are next level. They absolutely have the best view. The people in the southern hemisphere have the best view. Yes. To the core of the Milky Way that we just can't experience from from the north and like the peoples of South, America, and southern Africa. They include in how. How they Mark out the sky's the dark paths through the Milky Way. There is a tradition of seeing an emus spread out across the Milky Way were the coal shack nebula that super dark patch. I saw. Yeah. Societas once pointed out to you see it. And that that's only one of the stories, another one of the stories that are particularly love related to the Milky Way is they see the Milky Way as a dark river, through the sky. And it's the, the souls of men and women who have passed on to the heavens, that have their fires along that, that river and in some of their traditions when they see a shooting star, that is the soul of someone who died far from home returning. The home. It's cool stories. Yeah, I love I love that idea. What was it? There was a animation that came to a couple of years ago, but anyways idea of putting floating lanterns on like on a river and then letting them go and letting them all float downriver. You get this. They do that in, in Japan and China place like that. But it's, it's a very cool effect. So what are now you mentioned a couple of real big hitters. Supernova. Meteorite impact give me some more information. So, so I think the two really awesome things to come out of aboriginal astronomy is how they look at their crater covered lands, and actually maintain a history of. Yeah, these holes of the ground are actually craters, as, as well as their tradition of supernova. So let's start with the craters Australia is, is one of the oldest landmasses it has thirty confirmed craters that are well-structured. You look at them from an airplane, and you're, like, yes, that is a crater and the thing that really gets me is. They knew that these things in the ground were formed from things falling from the sky. In one case, the hen, very crater about four thousand two hundred years ago, a large nickel iron space rock hit central ustralia. And when it came down about one hundred and forty five kilometers south of siding, springs, it carved out a bunch of individual different craters. And when westerners I started visiting that land, and they had an aboriginal guide with them. The guide was like, no, we don't go there. That is the land that was formed when fire fell from the sky and, and right. They have a modern day tradition of fire fell from the sky. And formed this land, and that's oral tradition. That goes back four thousand two hundred years. There are many other craters across a stray Elliot that that they look at. And the various people know this was a crater here. Wolf creek craters is another one of these that is recognizes having fallen in this case when a star fell from the sky. And there are traditions of people going down in Orrell stories and exploring the sink holes and traveling them to through them to water in a great distant area, and it was a Mark of heroism to travel underground under these craters. And so there, there are clearly stories of when people explored and survived. And now people don't do that. Because. Those heroes did stupid things.

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