First Astronomers

First Astronomers : How Indigenous Elders read the stars

4.29 (114 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.29 (114 ratings by Goodreads)
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Our eyes have been drawn away from the skies to our screens. We no longer look to the stars to forecast the weather, predict the seasons or plant our gardens. Most of us cannot even see the Milky Way. But First Nations Elders around the world still maintain this knowledge, and there is much we can learn from them.

These Elders are expert observers of the stars. They teach that everything on the land is reflected in the sky, and everything in the sky is reflected on the land. How does this work, and how can we better understand our place in the universe?

Guided by six First Nations Elders, Duane Hamacher takes us on a journey across space and time to reveal the wisdom of the first astronomers. These living systems of knowledge challenge conventional ideas about the nature of science and the longevity of oral tradition. Indigenous science is dynamic, adapting to changes in the skies and on Earth, pointing the way for a world facing the profound disruptions of climate change.

'This book marks a profound paradigm shift in our understanding of Indigenous scientific traditions, how they are transmitted, and their relevance to life today.' - Professor Marcia Langton, University of Melbourne

'A ground-breaking book of enormous scope.' - Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate in Physics

'A glimpse into Indigenous ways of reading landscapes reflected in the night sky through ancient processes of inquiry.' - Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk

'A wonderful combination of scholarship and poetry.' - Dr Annette S. Lee, Lakota astrophysicist

'Beautiful, engaging, and startlingly profound.' - Alan Duffy, Professor of Astrophysics
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 156 x 234mm
  • St Leonards, Australia
  • English
  • 1760877204
  • 9781760877200
  • 9,346

Table of contents

Foreword: Professor Marcia Langton
1. Star Knowledge
2. The Nearest Star
3. The Moon
4. The Wandering Stars
5. The Twinkling Stars
6. The Seasonal Stars
7. The Variable Stars
8. The Cataclysmic Stars
9. The Navigational Stars
10. The Falling Stars
Glossary of astronomical terms
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Review quote

'Challenges Western notions of science as the only true measure of reality and truth. It treats Indigenous astronomy - and, by extension, Indigenous culture more broadly - not as an anthropological curiosity, but as a sophisticated and living body of knowledge that contains within it a radically different idea of human beings' place within nature.' - The Australian

'Stunning in scope, impressive in detail and accessible in style' - The Conversation
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About Duane Hamacher

Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. He earned graduate degrees in astrophysics and the social sciences and has appeared on TEDx, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, and many other high profile local and international programs. He serves as an expert consultant for UNESCO and works for Indigenous elders in the Torres Strait and around the world to document traditional star knowledge for educational programs and public understanding.

For more details about the Elders and Knowledge Holders
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Rating details

114 ratings
4.29 out of 5 stars
5 48% (55)
4 39% (44)
3 9% (10)
2 3% (3)
1 2% (2)
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