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Australian Aborigines: The world’s first astronomers

A new study shows that Australia’s ancient Aborigines may have been the world’s first stargazers.

Professor Ray Norris said widespread and detailed knowledge of the stars had been passed down through the generations by Aborigines, whose history dates back tens of millennia, in traditional songs and stories.

“We know there’s lots of stories about the sky: songs, legends, myths,” said Norris, an astronomer for Australia’s science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO).

“We wondered how much further does it go than that. It turns out also people used the sky for navigation, time-keeping, to mark out the seasons, so it’s very practical.

“People were nomadic so when Pleiades (the Seven Sisters star cluster) was up they would move to where the nuts and berries are. Another sign and it would be time to move to the rivers to fish for barramundi, and so on.”

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