Before Sam Houston State University’s Bucket List Astronomy Tour (BLAsT) Class left Australia after witnessing the transit of Venus, they learned a bit about Aboriginal astronomy. Theyvisited Macquarie University to learn about Aboriginal culture and the stars and myths they had long ago. The class also got to see a fascinating slideshow prepared by Duane Hamacher, a graduate student in archeoastronomy, shown by Bob Fuller of the North Sydney Astronomical Society. Here are some reflections by Brittany Crowson, who turned 18 the day the BLAsT Class returned home (June 8):
It really helps summarize the myths and shapes that the Aborigines saw to help them navigate their land and plan their years. We especially liked the giant man-eating emu (don't worry — it's dead now) and the acceptance of gender role reversal that the ancients had.
We saw pictures of petroglyphs the Aboriginals had for the phases of the Moon, and this reminded me a bit of V-Bar-V ranch in Arizona, where we also saw petroglyphs. They also had stone arrangements to record the cycles of the Sun, and these are going to be better dated later this year. It's possible that they might even predate the oldest known astronomically aligned structures, so that will be cool to see. This was really interesting to me to see the resourcefulness and the intelligence of these people that had none of the technology that we have today, but who had a great appreciation for the sky. They had a saying that "what is in the sky is on the Earth." This means more than just imaginary outlines of animals, and seems to show that the Aborigines were very wise.