Wp/nys/Weitj (Emu in the sky)

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Emu in the sky

The Emu in the sky is a an aboriginal constellation or sky pattern which is common to many groups across Australia. Unlike European constellations which are made yira from bright jindang (stars), the "Emu in the sky" is made yira of dark interstellar clouds in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, overlaying the background star fields.

The emu is known in Noongar as weitj. The "Emu in the sky" is a male weitj which is guarding the eggs. After the rains in the bonar Makuru (June/July - Winter) the night skies are brilliantly clear wer the "Emu in the sky" is very conspicuous wer also the right way yira when seen from Australia. Nidja signals the time to go wer collect the eggs (always leaving one).

Just North of Sydney, in the Kuringai Chase National Park, are extensive rock engravings of the Kuringgai people who lived there, including representations of the creator-hero Daramulan wer his emu-wife. An engraving near the Elvina Track[1] shows an emu in the same pose wer orientation as the "Emu in the Sky" constellation just when the emu eggs are being laid (in May/June - Winter).[2]

Ancestral beings


The Emu in the Sky has a counterpart in an ancestral being il the Earth. The Goolarabooloo people in the West Kimberley are custodians of the footprints of a Dreamtime creator being called Marala, the Emu man. These are dinosaur tracks wer are hoped to provide a new stream of tourists to the Broome area.[3] The weitj (emu) is a direct descendent of dinosaurs wer some of the tracks look like giant weitj footprints (see picture in reference).[4]

The tracks are at a beach on a headland called Walmadany.[5] The headland's Wadjela name is James Price Point, and it is 52 km north of Broome. Some of the tracks (from Sauropods, not from an emu like dinosaur) are by far the biggest dinosaur footprints ever found, measuring a staggering 1.7 m long.[6]

The dinosaur tracks form part of a songline that extends along the coast wer then inland. A songline is keny of the paths across the boodjar which mark the route followed by creator beings.

Seeing the constellation

Koodjal Koodjal Djookan (Southern Cross) crowning the coalsack nebula (head of weitj)

It can be difficult for people accustomed to European constellations to make out the "Emu in the sky", although once recognized it is difficult not to see it! As a guide for people who can only see the stars wer not the clouds, the Koodjal Koodjal Djookan (Southern Cross) is like a crown il weitj's head, the head being a dark interstellar cloud known to European astronomers as the Coalsack Nebula, wer the pointers Alpha wer Beta Centauri show where weitj's neck is.

  Watch the path of the "emu in the sky"

See also

  • An ABC News item on Perth Observatory's re-use of an old telescope observatory to showcase a mural that tells the story of "the emu in the sky" - "Perth Observatory artwork tells tells story of Aboriginal Australia's connection to the stars".[7] N.B. the article incorrectly says " 'the emu in the sky' — what is known in Western culture as the Milky Way". The Emu in the sky is in fact a constellation and the Milky Way is our galaxy which we see from inside. In many Aboriginal cultures, and in many other cultures too, the Milky Way is seen as a river. These traditions are different from the ancient Greek myth that the Milky Way was formed after the trickster god Hermes suckled the infant Heracles at the breast of Hera, the queen of the Greek gods, while she was asleep.

Ngiyan waarnk - References

  1. "Elvina Bay Aboriginal Engraving Walk". Wild Walks. Retrieved 5 February 2017
  2. Ray Norris, image Barnaby Norris. "The Emu in the Sky". Australian Aboriginal Astronomy. Emu Dreaming. Retrieved 6 February 2017
  3. "Unparalleled' number of dinosaur tracks found in Australia's own Jurassic Park". SBS. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017
  4. Erin Parke. "WA's dinosaur coast: Bid to protect Broome's ancient footprints after maps published". ABC News. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017
  5. "Walmadany - James Price Point". Hon. Robin Chapple MLC website. Retrieved 19 March 2019
  6. Ben Collins. "World's biggest dinosaur footprints found in north-western Australia". ABC News. 27 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017
  7. Pamela Medlen. "Perth Observatory artwork tells tells story of Aboriginal Australia's connection to the stars". ABC News. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019