Articles

65,000 yrs – the great history of Australian Aboriginal Astronomy | Kirsten Banks | [email protected]


Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Leonardo Silva I want you to think back to the last time
you looked up to the night sky. And I mean really looked. Was it last night? Maybe it was last month. The night sky is riddled with
sparkling stars and glittering galaxies that can look within an arms reach, yet in reality, are unfathomable distances away, and I find it incredibly beautiful. Ever since I could remember,
I’ve enjoyed looking up to the stars. It gives me a sense of place and meaning
within the everlasting universe. And I could be having the worst day ever, but when I appreciate
the universe above me, all of those problems melt away
for just a little while. But we are quickly losing the opportunity
to enjoy the stars in the sky. We are losing the darkness to overbearing bright city lights. But imagine, if rather than turning off
every bright light in the city so you can really see the stars, we instead opened our eyes to its beauty. Today I want to encourage you to take
the time to understand the night sky, and the long history of indigenous
astronomy that accompanies it. To take the time to look up. I’ve been looking up at the stars
since I was a little girl. I remember my science teachers
took my year group on an excursion to see the Hubble documentary
on a gigantic movie screen, and I sat there with the one-size-fits-none
3-D glasses slipping off my face, looking up in awe
of these magnificent photos, taken by this phenomenal telescope. And ever since then I’ve been hooked
on space and astronomy. Now I’m onto my honors year at university, studying great galaxy clusters
in the near universe, and I’ve spent almost four years
working at Sydney Observatory. So I guess you could say I’ve spent
a fair share of my time looking up. I want to take you on a journey
back in time now, to a time when the words
“light pollution” were foreign tongue. I want you to imagine yourselves
standing on the banks of Sydney Harbour in the days before British settlement. On a moonless night, you feel the winter chill
whip around the water, as the last rays of sunlight
catch the top of the trees. As the sun goes down,
it’s light is scattered more and more by each and every particle
in the atmosphere, transforming the sky
from a brilliant sky blue to beautiful pinks, oranges, and reds before fading to a deep royal blue as the shadow of the earth
dominates the sky. With every minute that passes,
new twinkling lights appear above you. Some are bright, and some are dim,
but all of them are beautiful. Once the Sun has completely retreated
from the sky, you can see it all. In the clean air, you notice some of these twinkling lights
shine in different colors. Most appear to be white in color,
but some shine with hints of blue or red, showing off a little bit more
about their nuclear fires. A shooting star, also known as a meteor,
dashes across a dazzling carpet of stars that stretches across
the entire night sky. It looks milky, like a stream, but also oddly resembles
clouds, sparkly clouds. This is the Milky Way galaxy. Toward the south, you can see
two other separate blobby clouds, one larger than the other. These are the small
and large Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies that orbit
the much larger Milky Way in a romantic eternal dance
choreographed by gravity. I remember the first time, very clearly, I ever saw the Milky Way
in all of its grandeur. My parents and I were traveling
across the lower part of Australia by car and playing a game of golf on the longest golf course
in the world, the Nullarbor links. This golf course starts
in Ceduna, South Australia, and finishes all the way over
in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. At almost every little
town stop along the way, there’s at least one golf hole. The fifth hole is located
at what’s called the Nullarbor Roadhouse. This place has five things: a servo, a small pub – very important – motel, and caravan park,
and one golf hole. The one night we stayed there, after a long day of driving
under the intense Australian sun, we decided to stay, and for some unknown reason,
the main generator backed out, and all the lights
in this tiny “town” turned off, The view of the night sky
was so pristine and so incredible I felt like I was swimming in space, or maybe I was just swimming in sweat. Trust me, it’s hot in Central Australia, but there were just so many stars,
and so many colors dancing around, it was so beautiful, it brought me to tears. With no artificial lights,
we could be seeing this up to 2,500 stars. But in present-day Sydney, you can see a pitiful
125 stars at best with the naked eye, a mere five percent
of what you could be seeing without the addition of light pollution. A load of people around the world
don’t know the real beauty of the natural night sky. People have gone their entire lives
believing that the night sky is only filled with less than
a few hundred stars. Data collected from the Helmholtz Centre
in Potsdam, Germany, reveals that the Milky Way is hidden
from one-third of the global population, and 80 percent of the world’s population
live under light-polluted skies. But not only are we losing the opportunity to enjoy and explore
this gorgeous night sky, we are also losing
the rich cultural history that is veiled in and around each
and every single star. My relationship with Aboriginal astronomy
started in my first year of university. Around the same time I started working
at Sydney Observatory. I learned about great celestial bodies
from my Wiradjuri heritage, and found a new perspective
of the universe. For those who aren’t aware,
Wiradjuri land is located in what’s now more commonly referred to
as Central New South Wales. As soon as I opened my eyes
to this new perspective of the universe, I delved into learning more. There are hundreds, if not thousands
of cultures scattered across the globe and each one has a rich history
connected to the stars. In Australia alone, there are
more than 250 indigenous groups that have used the stars
for the last 65,000 years, and their knowledge
is still exercised to this day. When you take a closer look
at the Milky Way and notice all the little details, you’ll see that it’s not
just a uniform carpet of stars. There is light and dark in the Milky Way, and this darkness, this dust and gas that naturally
blocks the light from distant stars possesses one of my absolute favorite
constellations from my Wiradjuri heritage: Gugurmin, the Celestial Emu. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It is incredible. Its head begins up here,
below the Southern Cross. This dark patch is a dark nebula known
in Western astronomy as the Coalsack. It is connected to the neck,
which stands down towards the east, and this live bulge here
is the body of Gugurmin, and the center of the Milky Way galaxy. In Wiradjuri culture, and in many other
indigenous nations as well, the position of the Emu in the night sky indicates at what time of the year is
the right time to go looking for Emu eggs. When Gugurmin is on the eastern horizon, it looks like it’s running
along the horizon. This indicates to us that the emus
are now running around, looking for a mate. Later in the year, as the earth travels
a little bit further around the sun, Gugurmin’s body travels up, and up, and up to the point where it’s directly above you
in the night sky just after sunset. Now we don’t see it
as an emu’s body anymore, but instead as an emu egg in a nest, and this indicates to us that now
is the time to go looking for emu eggs. So once you know it’s the right time
to go looking for emu eggs, you and a friend will go out to the bush
with something like this, an emu caller, and find yourselves
an emu sitting on a nest. Now, usually it’s the males
that sit on the nest. So to lure away a male, you have your friend hide behind a bush
and make the sound of a male emu. (Low-pitched echoing sound) When the emu hears that sound, it’s going to get very territorial
and go looking for the imposter. So, while your friend
is being chased by the emu, you can then safely go to the nest
and take one or two emu eggs. But a very important question
for you all right now: Do you take all of the emu eggs?
(Audience) No. Of course not, we want to leave
some emu eggs behind to have more emus develop
to have more emu eggs next season. It’s this fantastic thing
called sustainability. (Laughter) Now this technique of using
the stars to find emu eggs has worked for over 65,000 years. Not only does this guide act
as a seasonal menu of sorts, it can also be used as a tool
to teach many lessons. You can learn a lot about
what’s happening on the land just by looking up at the stars. In many indigenous cultures,
the night sky can be used as a map, or it can be used to predict
changes in the weather. You can also learn about Aboriginal law and it can teach you fundamental
workings of the universe. But we’re losing this knowledge
because we’re losing the darkness. The National Australian curriculum now
includes subjects in Aboriginal astronomy, and other indigenous sciences. This is a great step forward for our
nation in an effort to close the gap, and gain a mutual understanding between
indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. But there’s still one problem: a lot of Australians still
can’t see the Milky Way or these dark constellations
that it possesses. So, the next time you
look up to the night sky, think about what great
knowledge is thinly veiled in and around
each and every single star, and think about what you can do to help preserve and appreciate
our wonderful night sky. Go on a tour at an observatory, or take some time out of your day to explore the world
of indigenous astronomy at home. And if you find yourself
in Outback Australia, take a moment to look up
and find that Celestial Emu. (Low-pitched echoing sound) Thank you. (Applause)

95
Comments
  • We are the most important people for our parents compare then whole world🌍
    Big Thumbs for all parents how always support their children's in every single steps of life 😊👍

  • Awesome TED Talk on Astronomy!!! Crazy how this video was just posted when I was thinking about Astronomy!! From California also!

  • opportunity comes once in life but we too hesitate to accept that opportunity but we realize after goes it. so hold your opportunity tightly when it comes…

  • I know a lot about prehistoric astronomy, but I never heard of Aboriginal Astronomy! Interesting!

  • My favorite person my dad told me about this very subject and thank you 🙏 so much for this Ted talk important impressive information let’s kill light pollution

  • The Aboriginals failed to invent the wheel in the 65,000 years they existed in isolation and they followed a religion and had a tribal hierarchy that was extremely cruel to women and children. I don't think we should fall victim to the "noble savage" view that so many of these rich, urban liberals hold.

  • Great talk, TEDx and so true. Nothing like the beautiful night sky, with a full moon, the stars & constellations. There is truly magic up there.

  • That was beautiful. Her passion for astronomy radiated from her with the brightness of the stars.

  • Colonizer teaches us about Aboriginal astronomy. "…in the days before British 'settlement.'" Well, then, Europe is being 'settled' now, then.

  • The aboriginals hadn't even discovered FIRE until contact with white men. Do you REALLY expect us to swallow this 1984-style rewriting of history?

  • 1.The pain of mind is worst than pain of body
    2.Excellence is not being the best, it's doing your best.
    3.Failure isn't the opposite of success ,but part of success
    4.There is no way to become a perfect person but there are a million ways to become a good one.
    5.Any good apology has three parts:
    1-I am sorry
    2- It is my fault
    3-What can I do to make
    right?
    Most people forget the third part
    6.The depth of your struggle determines the height of your success.
    7.Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened.

    Thanks for reading
    Please subscribe my channel for more quotes

  • You are ADORABLE, Kristen! THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
    VERY relevant and thought provoking! 🙏 ✨💚✨

  • Why do we curse the darkness? It exposes the truth of our place in the vast universe…true, a candle has it’s uses, but how often a multitude of them lit in fear drown out the stark beauty human of vulnerability…

  • I live in hurricane alley and when they hit and knock out power for weeks, the sky is amazing and demands your attention.

  • So sick and tired of this EVOLUTION FRAUD which is actually several thousand year old PAGAN RELIGION FABLES and NOTHING CLOSE to FACTUAL operational science;

    "There is no known law of nature, no known process, no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter." – Dr. Werner Gitt

    "To say that science can disprove God is like saying that a mechanic can disprove the existence of Henry Ford." – Frank Turek.

    "To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, "i have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge." – Ravi Zacharias

    "The problem is not the absence of evidence, but the suppression of it." – Ravi Zacharias

    "We must now admit to ourselves that the probability of life arising by chance by evolution is the same probability of throwing six in dice five million consecutive times." – Sir Fred Hoyle

    "The real issue is, do the laws of physics and chemistry in our universe permit life to come from non-life? All of our scientific observations are indicating that the answer is *no*." – Jake Hebert – Ph.D., Physics – University of Texas @ Dallas.

    "Athiests express their rage against God although in their view He does not exist" – C.S. Lewis

    "Bit in all the reading i've done the life sciences literaure, I've never found a mutation that added information. All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce genetic information and not to increase it." Dr. Lee Spetner

    Swedish Embryologist, Soren Lovtrup: "I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be randed the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens, many people will pose the question, 'How did this ever happen'".

    "Man fallaciously says, 'I think, therefore, i am.' But God says, "I AM, therefore, you think.'"

    "How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replicating capabilities and 'coded chemistry'?" – Antony Flew ["atheist" turned "deist"]

    "Man has rebelled against God in many ways throughout the ages, but perhaps no more defiantly than in his denial of God's role as the Creator. In an attempt to escape their accountability to God, some people credit evolution, a fabled process of progressive chance dependent on chance and time, with the origin of life on earth." – World History and Cultures in Christian Perspective – Third Edition (2010) – p. 3.

    "Theory: Nearly all scientists believe in evolution. Fact: Since over 150 years of study has not produced any facts to support the theory, many scientists have now abandoned their faith in it. The late Sir Fred Hoyle, one of Britain's most eminent scientists, stated that the chances of life coming about through evolution were about as equal to the chances that a storm in a rubbish dump could create a jumbo jet plane." – Excerpt from: Famularo, Silvio. "Evolution, the Theories and the Facts."

    "As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible" (Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, 31) .

    "If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God." – Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelven temperature scale based upon it.

    "The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing." – G. K. Chesterton

    "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that, in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to be satisfied to get it going." – Francis Crick

    "The evolutionary case from genetics is unravelling at multiple levels because it was never based on any direct evidence for common ancestry in the first place." – Nathaniel Jeanson, Ph.D., Cell and Developmental Biology, Harvard University

    "That's the biggest problem for evolution: how life got started. Because you need DNA to make proteins, you need DNA to make RNA, and you need RNA to make proteins. So, it's worse than 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?' – Jeff Tomkins, Ph.d., Genetics, Clemson University

    Sir Fred Hoyle saw through immensely fallicious assumptions behind the 'big bang' theory. He wrote in 1994, "Big-Bang cosmology refers to an epoch that cannot be reached by any form of astronomy, and, in more than two decades, it has not produced a single prediction." – Hoyle, F., Home Is Where the Wind Blows , University Science Books, Mill Valley, California, 414, 1994, as reported in The Skeptic , 16(1):52

    Hoyle also compared the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a solar system full of blind men solving the Rubik’s Cube simultaneously.

    "Evolution attacks God's place as Creator and man's special position in creation as the only creature made in the image of God. It also destroy's man's concept of the sanctity of life; if man is just an animal, then human life is of no more value than animal life." – World History and Cultures in Christian Perspective, Third Ed. (2010), p. 3

    "Theory: The Universe Began with the Big Bang.

    Fact: This could not be so. Bangs never begin anything. However, they do follow explosions. But to have an explosion, there must be first something to explode and then there would need to be something to cause the explosion. Explosions have never been known to cause anything but destruction.

    Challenge: Identify an example of anything conisisting of order and design that was created by an explosion."

    [Excerpt from: Famularo Silvio. "Evolution, The Theories and the Facts."]

    End of Part 1

  • They are Original not Aboriginal. Original inhabitants not ab-Original. Remember the Originals were managed under the Flora & Fauna Act until 1965, so yes managed with the plant and animal life and called ab-original.

  • im a Pacific islander frm the Micronesian region & we've been traveling the vast Pacific ocean around us using the stars & the stars only without using a compas. during the say we use the position of the sun, sea birds, sea currents, reefs & floating objects out at sea.

  • i hope we could also have a young and genius filipino like her in the philippines , she's an inspiration 🌈

  • Bit tired of hearing bs about dates. 65k years … When all the data we have says human history is 30-40k years. We are teaching our kids how to be liers by telling lies.

  • Kirsten Banks, you are beautiful as the sky when you on that dress talking about the sky <3 thank you

  • So on top of the thousands of emus the Australians lost a war to, there was also a great celestial emu. Beautiful

  • Excellent talk, great emu hunting details and noise imitation! Tragic to think that light pollution has robbed so many – one third of the world – of seeing our Milky Way and is getting worse. Its costing us the sky. 🙁

  • I love aboriginal history buuut I couldn't hear a word she said…too cute for me to notice much else.

  • Meanwhile in downtown Los Angeles… There are no visible stars… And the only eggs your going to go hunting for are pigeon eggs.

  • I think the video was cut short to delete this introduction (which felt utterly missing):

    With ears of an elf – height of a dwarf – she undertook the passionate journey of stars across galaxies – a subject vaguely known as astronomy.
    She is Kirsten Banks.

  • This is brilliant. Aboriginal people are still here and their knowledge is still relevant. There is no other culture on the planet that can lay claim to 65,000 years of heritage.

  • They are always talking about three days of Darkness. I believe after the 3 days we'd probably all say, "Turn off those damn lights, we've got the stars." (Of course, we might be frozen by then.)

  • Başarılı bir sunum bilgiler için teşekkürler. Gökyüzü ve yıldızlar muhteşem.( Türkçe alt yazı çok kötü )

  • An awesome and inspiring talk that would bring home the wonders of the night sky that most people don't take time to appreciate to the most weary human. And as a writer I love the delicious turns of phrase like "dazzling carpet of stars", "sparkling stars and glittering galaxies" (as a science fiction writer I may steal that one) "eternal dance choreographed by gravity"… Thanks for letting You Tube post this. I'll be sharing.

  • Oh what a great speech keep up the great talk 👣🌌 I’m currently in Winton Queensland and the Milky Way and the sky is just spectacular! We just downloaded Star walk App and it’s amazing 🔮

  • I believe new evidence shows that the dwarf galaxies, those two clouds in the night sky, are not gravitationaly bound to the milky way and are moving away. In billions of years, they will no longer be visible.

  • Yes I know there is an Emu up in the sky. There is probably an Appache helicopter if you look hard enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *