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Community Sky Stories event returns to Charles Sturt in Orange

[by Trease Clarke]


2022 Composite image created by Trevor Leaman using Wiradjuri constellation art created by Scott Towney transposed over an European Southern Observatory (ESO) background. The image depicts Gugaa, the tree goanna. The orientation of Gugaa is a significant indicator of resource availability. Image: supplied

The annual ‘Sky Stories Community Observation Night’ will return to the Girinyalanha Aboriginal Nature and Bioscience Park at Charles Sturt University in Orange on Thursday 15 September.

The free event will explore the differences and parallels between First Nations and Western science.

It will include stargazing with telescopes and laser pointers, traditional First Nations food, a barbeque, and music. Astronomers and scientists will lead the stargazing event and share stories and insights about the solar system.

Charles Sturt Director of External Engagement for Orange Ms Julia Andrews highlighted the event as a wonderful opportunity for staff, students, and the community to come together to learn more about astronomy.

“The University welcomes students, staff, and all members of the public to attend this event,” Ms Andrews said.

“It’s quite magical and a real treat for the University to co-host it, thanks to the hard work and passion of staff members such as Sid Parissi. I especially encourage community members, school students and their families, and students of the Orange campus to attend the event.”

“All students studying undergraduate and professional entry courses at Charles Sturt must undertake Indigenous cultural studies as part of their course, and this event is a wonderful opportunity for our students to connect with the local First Nations community.”

President of Orange Planetarium Incorporated Mr Rod Somerville and team will provide access to telescopes and share their knowledge of telescope optics, constellations, our moon, planetary motion and other celestial objects and phenomena.

While providing valuable support to other guest speakers, Mr Somerville will also take the opportunity to provide training to his group mentees, and potential future astronomers, from local high schools.

One of the special guest speakers and astronomers for the event is Mr Trevor Leaman, a PhD researcher for the Wiradjuri Cultural Astronomy Project, Operator of Dark Skies Downunder, and an active member of the Australian Indigenous Astronomy group, and the Central West Astronomical Society.

“The event is a great opportunity for the community to learn more about First Nations science from the lens of astronomy to explore different ways of looking at the night sky from Western, First Nations Australian and other global cultural perspectives,” Mr Leaman said.

Alongside Mr Leaman, other astronomers and special guest speakers hosting the event include Ms Tina Leaman, Wiradjuri Murriyang Project Coordinator, and active member of the Australian Indigenous Astronomy group; the Central West Astronomical Society, and the Orange branch of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

Ms Leaman is a proud Palawa woman and Operator of Keshara, whose professional practice focuses on STEM education, mentoring and other projects, workshops and presentations that empower cultural identity and expression.

“We aim to curate an evening of cultural skyscapes incorporating stellar navigation, meteorological forecasting, seasonal resource calendars and stories from our ancestors that have been transferred from generation to generation and from community to community,” Ms Leaman said.

“We hope everyone can recognise that preserving dark skies is essential in connecting us to the boundless sky country, an immense repository of cultural knowledge.”

Mr Gerald Power from Indigenous Cultural Adventures will be treating attendees to a variety of traditional bush tucker and cultural activities.

The event will take place on campus at and around the Girinyalanha Aboriginal Nature and Bioscience Park and will include three designated stargazing vantage points.

Girinyalanha was established by Charles Sturt in partnership with the Orange Local Aboriginal Lands Council and is a cultural learning space with culturally significant trees, plants and areas which have significant meanings for the local First Nations community.

The ‘Sky Stories Community Observation Night’ event is on between 5pm and 8.30pm on Thursday 15 September at Girinyalanha at Charles Sturt in Orange. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic rug and wear warm clothes and closed-toe shoes are also advisable. For those who already have binoculars, it is a great opportunity to dust them off and bring them along too.

The event is also supported by Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health, Residence Life and Charles Sturt.



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