Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Astronomy 

The First Nations cultures of Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – speak over 250 distinct languages and stretch back for over 65,000 years. This makes the First Australians the oldest astronomers and the oldest continuing cultures in the world. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developed a number of practical ways to observe the Sun, Moon and stars to inform navigation, calendars, and predict weather. Australia’s First Nations people assign meaning and agency to astronomical phenomena, which informs Law and social structure. It also serves as the foundation for narratives that are passed down the generations through song, dance, and oral tradition over tens of thousands of years.

“Indigenous astronomy” is the first astronomy – the astronomy that existed long before the Babylonians, Greeks, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. This website explores the many aspects of Indigenous Astronomy in Australia. Learn how Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities perceive various types astronomical phenomena, how elders read the stars, or watch videos of animations, dances, and songs related to the stars. You can find educational curricula, information about degree programs, and learn about the generation of Aboriginal students studying astrophysics who are quickly becoming the new faces and voices of this work.

The site will constantly improve and grow. Take some time to explore!

The Planets in Indigenous Australian Traditions

by Duane W. Hamacher and Kirsten Banks. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Planetary Science, edited by Peter Read. Oxford University Press.

Yes, Aboriginal Australians can and did discover the variability of Betelgeuse

by Bradley E. Schaefer. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 21(1), pp. 7-12, 2018

 

Death and Maier: meteors and mortuary rites in the eastern Torres Strait

by Carla Guedes, Duane Hamacher, John Barsa, Elsa Day, Ron Day, Segar Passi, and Alo Tapim. Australian Journal of Indigenous Issues, Vol. 21(3), Pp. 39-59.

 

Recent Media

Credits

Curator: Dr Duane Hamacher

Website Designer: Sean Williams

Website Editor: Trevor Leaman

Logo: Rae Cooper