Across different cultures of the world, people look up into the night sky and they see many different things. Indigenous people have long used the stars to tell stories, for calendar purposes and also religious reasons. It is believed that Aboriginal people were the first astronomers, using the stars as a tool for over 50,000 years.
Early Aboriginal Australians saw the constellations similarly to the way the Ancient Greeks did. Pleiades – more commonly known as The Seven Sisters – share a story comparable to Aboriginal communities in the Central Desert Region in which they are said to be seven sisters fleeing from the unwanted attention of a man embodied by some of the stars in Orion.
Another popular constellation is the story of the twins – Gemini. Gemini also shares a similar story to the Wergaia people of western Victoria. In their story, they are brothers Yuree and Wanjel, hunters who pursue and kill the kangaroo Purra.
The “Emu in the Sky” is formed by the dark spaces around the stars in the Milky Way. It can usually be seen around the winter months of the year. This time is generally when Emus would be nesting and laying eggs, making it the perfect time for them to be gathered. Furthermore “Emu in the Sky” is very similar to way that the indigenous Tupi people of Brazil see the shape of a Rhea, which is also a large, flightless bird that shares similar features to the Emu.
Aboriginal peoples understanding of the night sky is one of the many things passed down through generations that keep us connected to our ancestors and our land.