Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are supernovae recorded in Indigenous astronomical traditions?

New research by Dr Duane Hamacher at the University of New South Wales explores Indigenous traditions that may describe supernovae, and sets criteria for confirming supernovae in oral tradition and material culture (e.g. artefacts, rock art, etc).

Journal of Astronomical History & Heritage, Vol. 17(2), pp. 161-170.


Novae and supernovae are rare astronomical events that would have had an influence on the sky-watching peoples who witnessed them. Although several bright novae/supernovae have been visible during recorded human history, there are many proposed but no confirmed accounts of supernovae in indigenous oral traditions or material culture. Criteria are established for confirming novae/supernovae in oral traditions and material culture, and claims from around the world are discussed to determine if they meet these criteria. Aboriginal Australian traditions are explored for possible descriptions of novae/supernovae. Although representations of supernovae may exist in Aboriginal traditions, there are currently no confirmed accounts of supernovae in Indigenous Australian oral or material traditions.

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