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Cosmic Discovery- lesson 1

October15

During our first lesson we will use “Perspectives Analysis” to compare the the different viewpoints of understandings about space between modern and ancient civilisations.

Please download the ‘Thinking Skills Steps’ Anchor Chart here:

thinking-skills-outline-table

You will use a different thinking skill in each of our lessons.

This short article gives a modern perspective on the origins of the universe, our solar system and the Earth:

what-went-bang

There are also 3 videos to watch to get a modern perspective on the origins of the sun, moon, planets and stars:

How the moon was born;

Origins of the Universe The Big Bang

and Expanding & Contracting Universes; and Stephen Hawking – Formation of the Solar System.

These videos are available on:

Student Shared Drive – 5-6 2018 – Space Vid Resources – Lesson 1

After you have read the Australian Aboriginal perspective (below), you can log on to the Big Myth site to read about the perspectives of 2 or 3 other ancient civilisations.

Here is some stories that represent the Dreamtime beliefs about the Cosmos of some Aboriginal Peoples:

Stories of the stars and sky

How The Sun Was Made

For a long time there was no sun, only a moon and stars. That was before there were men on the earth, only birds and animals, all of which were much larger than they are now.

One day Emu and Brolga were on a large plain near the Murrumbidgee River. There they were, arguing and fighting. Brolga, in her rage, rushed to the nest of Emu and seized from it one of the huge eggs, which she threw with all her force up to the sky. There it broke on a heap of firewood, which burst into flame as the yellow yolk spilled all over it, and lit up the world below to the astonishment of every creature on it. They had been used to the semi-darkness and were dazzled by such brightness.

A good spirit who lived in the sky saw how bright and beautiful the earth looked when lit up by this blaze. He thought it would be a good thing to make a fire every day, and from that time he has done so. All night he and his helper spirits collect wood and heap it up. When the heap is nearly big enough they send out the morning star to warn those on earth that the fire will soon be lit.

 

When the spirits first light the fire it does not throw out much heat. But by the middle of the day, when the whole heap of firewood is in a blaze, the heat is fierce. After that it begins to die gradually away until, at sunset, only red embers are left. They quickly die out, except a few the spirits cover up with clouds and save to light the heap of wood the next day.

The Southern Cross

Tagai is as a man standing in a canoe. In his left hand, he holds a fishing spear, representing the Southern Cross. In his right hand, he holds a sorbi (a red fruit). Tagai and his crew of 12 are preparing for a journey. But before the journey begins, the crew eat all the food and drink they planned to take. So the Tagai strung the crew together on nets in two groups of six and cast them into the sea, where their images became star patterns in the sky. These patterns can be seen in the star constellations of Pleiades and Orion.

The Pointer Stars

Two young brothers had been hunting and decided to make a campfire when a strong wind blew up. Soon the entire mountain was on fire and the brothers ran to the top of the peak to escape the flames, but the fire caught up to them. Just as they started to burn, the ancestor beings took pity on them and gave them the gift of flight. They flew high up into the night sky, where their camp fires can still be seen today as the Pointer Stars.

Lightning Brothers in the sky

lightning-bros
Bill Harney, Lightning Dreaming (Lightning Brothers), 2001, acrylic on Galicia linen. Image courtesy of Bill Harney and Didgeridoo and Aboriginal Art Distributors.

The Lightning Brothers travelled from the Warlpiri lands of the Northern Territory, stopping at Yirindale Springs before coming to camp at  Yiwalalay. During their travels, the younger brother, Yabiringi, wanted to take the wife of his brother Yagjabula as his own wife! This ended in a fight between the two brothers. Yagjabula chopped off the head of his brother with a swing from his special stone axe. The Lightning Brothers then went to live in the sky-world, the dwelling place of many spirits.

Stars and family relationships

Knowledge of the stars helped people in navigation across the land as well as the seas. Stars and star patterns represent figures familiar in the Aboriginal environment like crocodiles and eagles as well as mythical figures like the Lightning Brothers.

Knowledge of the star formations also reflects the patterns for social relationships in some areas. People’s relationships to one another are represented in the patterns stars make in the sky. The stars represent a man and a woman ideally suited in marriage, with their parents, children and other relations all marked out in the night sky.

The Warlpiri people believe their ancestors broke the Milky Way into the individual stars that we see today. Some fragments fell to earth, creating special (sacred) places. This story is re-told in paintings, song and dance as well as re-enacted in ceremonies, where men wear white on their bodies to represent the stars.

In this way connections are made on a daily basis between ancestors, people, stars and land. The telling of the Dreaming stories reinforces knowledge about the Cosmos, social behaviour, land formations and special or sacred places.

After you have filled in the grid, use the information to answer these questions-

( I give my opinion about the differences)

What do they have in common? Why are they different? How was the way it was used to understand the world helpful/problematic?

( I explain what I know now)

Why have people wanted to explain the cosmos? What has helped us to understand the universe in the past? How could we compare ancient myths to modern information reports?  How might future people look back at what we think about the universe

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