Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meet the People of the Indigenous Astronomy Project

This week we would like to introduce you to our research group, which consists of researchers and educators with rather diverse backgrounds. Our project is collaborative, with members across Australia, although we are centred in Sydney. Our work is rigorous and we work closely with Indigenous Elders and communities.

There are a number of approaches to such a large, wide-reaching project and we all add our own contribution using our own particular strengths. There is simply so much to learn about Australian Indigenous Astronomy that it would take a dozen lifetimes to even scratch the surface. Because of this, we always welcome new members to the project. Any Indigenous elders or communities that would like to share their stories and traditions or get involved in education are encouraged to contact us. Any students that would like to get involved in this exciting research are also welcome to contact us, whether it is for an undergraduate project or a master or doctoral thesis, from any academic field.

You simply will not meet a friendlier or more enthusiastic group of people!

Ray Norris

Professor Ray Norris is a British-Australian astrophysicist at CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science. He received an honours degree in theoretical physics from Cambridge University and a PhD in radio astronomy from Manchester University. While in the UK, he tackled the problem of whether Stonehenge and other Bronze-age monuments had been built as astronomical observatories. He moved to Australia in 1983 to work for CSIRO. He currently leads a project to image the faintest radio galaxies and star-forming galaxies in the Universe. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. Ray enjoys working with Australian Aboriginal groups in the Northwern Territory such as the Yolngu and Wardaman.

Duane Hamacher

Dr Duane Hamacher is a Lecturer at the Nura Gili Indigenous Centre at the University of New South Wales.  Born and raised in the United States, Duane earned a BSc in physics from the University of Missouri followed by an MSc in astrophysics from the University of New South Wales researching extrasolar planets. In 2008, he was awarded a Research Excellence Scholarship to complete a PhD on Aboriginal Astronomy at Macquarie University, which he finished in 2012. He has given talks on Aboriginal Astronomy around the world and has published numerous research papers on the subject. Duane is also an astronomy educator and consultant curator at Sydney Observatory.  He developed this blog as an outreach and education tool.

John Goldsmith

John recently submitted his PhD thesis investigating the way in which Aboriginal sky knowledge is being documented, shared, and communicated at Curtin University in Perth.  John earned a BSc and MSc in environmental science and is an avid astro-photographer. His doctoral research was based on a highly successful Yamaji Art and ICRAR collaboration, which resulted in the development of the “Ilgarijiri, Things Belonging to the Sky” exhibition, which featured astronomically themed Aboriginal artwork. The exhibition was featured at Geraldton, Perth, Canberra, and Cape Town, South Africa. There are current plans for the first U.S. exhibition in Washington. John's research also involves compiling and presenting documentation about Wolfe Creek Crater and Aboriginal knowledge and beliefs relating to the crater. The emphasis of the research is about the documentation, communication and sharing of Aboriginal astronomical knowledge in contemporary society.

Bob Fuller

Robert "Bob" Fuller is the former President of the Northern Sydney Astronomical Society and is currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy at Macquarie researching the astronomy of the Kamilaroi people of north-central New South Wales. An American born pilot, Bob earned a BA in anthropology and sociology from Gettysburg Collge in Pennsylvania, USA and moved to Australia in the 1970s. After 30 years with SAAB defense, he retired and completed a major research project on the astronomical ties to Bora sites in southeastern Australia, which was submitted to the journal Australian Archaeology.

Paul Curnow

Paul Curnow is a qualified primary school teacher (BEd) and was a lecturer at the Adelaide Planetarium from 1992-2013 and currently teaches an astronomy course at the University of South Australia. He ran a 10-week course entitled 'The Night Sky' for adults, in addition to a 6-week course entitled 'Ancient Skies'. Furthermore, he ran a number of one night courses; 'Aboriginal Skies', 'Ancient Skies' and 'Starlore & Solar System Astronomy'. Paul has published over 40 papers on General Astronomy and Aboriginal Astronomy and gives talks about the subject across Australia. Two of his papers earned him the Astronomical Society of South Australia Editor's Award.

David Frew

Dr David Frew is an astrophysicist and Research Fellow in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Macquarie University. He earned a BSc(Hons) in geology and a GradDip in education from the University of Technology, Sydney before completing a PhD in astrophysics at Macquarie. He studies the evolution of planetary nebulae and symbiotic stars, but has wider interests in the history of astronomy, including the application of modern techniques to archival data of variable stars. He works with the Indigenous Astronomy project researching transient stellar events, such as novae, supernovae, and variable stars. With Duane Hamacher in 2010, he found that Aboriginal Victorians recorded the Great Eruption of Eta Carina in 1843, a star that undergoes occasional violent outbursts, making it appear extremely bright. This is the only global Indigenous record of this event found to date.

Steven Tingay

Steven Tingay is a professor of astrophysics at Curtin University in Perth working on a project to develop baseband recording and processing equipment for radio astronomy and uses this equipment on Australian radio telescope such as Parkes and the Australia Telescope Compact Array to undertake novel astrophysical experiments. He earned a BSc(Hons) in physics from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in astrophysics from ANU. His main areas of research interest include quasars and active galactic nuclei, starburst galaxies, galactic X-ray binaries, and radio galaxies. He is also involved in Aboriginal Astronomy by working with the Traditional Owners of the land housing the new ASKAP radio telescope. Steven is John Goldsmith's thesis advisor.

Tui Britton

Tui is completing a PhD in astrophysics at Macquarie/CSIRO. Born in New Zealand and raised in Singapore, she attended the University College London and Michigan State University, where she received a BSc in astrophysics. She moved to Sydney and earned an MSc in astrophysics from the University of New South Wales before receiving a Research Excellence Scholarship to study star formation at Macquarie. Her main interests in Aboriginal Astronomy involve studying the degrees of night-vision in Indigenous people, helping us to understand how well Aboriginal people could see at night and how this has changed since colonisation. She also assists in archaeological fieldwork projects and studies Maori astronomy.

John Clegg

John is a retired Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney. He was born in the UK and earned an honours degree in archaeology from Cambridge University, followed by a teaching certificate. He moved to Australia and earned an MA in archaeology from the University of Sydney and has been an active researcher for over 35 years.  He has published numerous articles, book chapters, and books on archaeology, particularly focused on how to get archaeological insights from rock art.  John is one of the top experts on Aboriginal rock art in the Sydney region.

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