Aboriginal Skies - presented by Paul Curnow, Adelaide Planetarium, University of South Australia
Wednesday 6th October 2021
Aboriginal Australians have been looking at the night sky for thousands of years. During this time, they have been able to build up a complex knowledge of the stars and their movements. This connection with the night sky represents some of the earliest ponderings about the cosmos and was an effort to explain natural phenomena. Moreover, the stars were used for navigation, education, as a seasonal guide to the availability of foods, in addition to reinforcing cultural identity and spirituality. In this lecture, I will talk about some of the Aboriginal Dreaming stories; their ‘dark pattern’ shapes, such as the ‘celestial emu’; the names they gave to the stars and the differences between the way the sky is viewed in comparison to the classical 88-constellations used by contemporary astronomers.
Paul Curnow [B.ED] has been an astronomy lecturer at the Adelaide Planetarium since 1992. After nearly three decades of research, he is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on Australian Aboriginal night sky knowledge. Paul has worked in conjunction with the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center Planetarium in Ohio, served as a consultant on Indigenous Astronomy for the Australian Space Agency, appeared as the keynote speaker at the inaugural 2010 Lake Tyrrell Star Party in Sea Lake, Victoria and in 2011 was a special guest speaker at the Carter Observatory in Wellington, New Zealand. Paul runs several popular courses for the public that focus on astronomy and ethnoastronomy, which primarily deals with how the night sky is seen by non-western cultures. Since 2012 Paul has Lectured for the ‘Astronomy & the Universe’ course (EDUC2066); and in 2019 for ‘Science’ (EDUC 2030) for the School of Education at the University of South Australia. Moreover, since 2021 he has been a member of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation Education Advisory Committee. Paul appears regularly in the media and has authored over 50 articles on astronomy.
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