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The Astronomy and Navigation of Australia's Aboriginal people

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Lecture Theatre 2,

Physics Building (A28)

Physics Road

The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

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Aboriginal people in Australia have a rich astronomical tradition such as the "Emu in the Sky" constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, and stars, revealing a depth and complexity of pre-contact Aboriginal cultures which are not widely appreciated by outsiders. Not only did they know the sky intimately, but they were familiar with planetary motions, tides, and eclipses. Their songs and stories show that Aboriginal Australians sought to understand their Universe in a similar way to modern science. They used this knowledge of the sky to construct calendars, song lines, and other navigational tools, enabling them to navigate across the country, trading artefacts and sacred stories.

We are thrilled to host Professor Ray Norris, Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University, for our Indigenous Seminar Series. Join us to explore the astronomy and navigation of Aboriginal people.

About the presenter

Professor Ray Norris is an astrophysicist at CSIRO and Western Sydney University, and is also known as a popular science speaker. His professional life revolves around the question of figuring out how the Universe evolved from the Big Bang to the galaxies, planets, and people that we see around us today. To achieve this, he leads the international “Evolutionary Map of the Universe” team who use state-of-art radio telescopes and innovative “big data” techniques to sequence galaxies from the Big Bang to the present day, and answer questions like “why do most galaxies have a black hole in their centre, and how does it affect the galaxy’s life-cycle?”.

As well as his mainstream astrophysical research, he is also well-known for his ground-breaking research on the astronomy of Australian Aboriginal people. In this research, he particularly focuses on the question of how traditional Aboriginal Australians used their knowledge of the sky for practical and ceremonial purposes, and their development of an “etno-scientific” view of how the Universe works. He recently won an award for “Best Science Writing 2017”.


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Location

Lecture Theatre 2,

Physics Building (A28)

Physics Road

The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

View Map

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