Indigenous Astronomy Workshop

Publication date
Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017

The Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) partnered with start-up company Cuberider to deliver an Indigenous- focused daylong Astronomy for regional school students in years 7 to 12 on 17 August. Two schools from the region, Coonabarabran High School and Warren High School, with a total of 65 students participated. Mt Stromlo Observatory staff Milica Symul and Brad Tucker along with PhD students Ayan Acharyya, Karlie Noon, and Ryan Ridden-Harper and Siding Spring staff Peter Small and Amanda Wherrett helped deliver the program.

With no other National Science Week events within a few hundred kilometres, this was a unique chance to get rural students engaged in STEM activities. The day interwove modern astronomical techniques and discoveries with Indigenous Astronomy, showing how important and advanced Australia has been in science for over 15,000 years.

Time Activity
10:00 Arrival
10:00 - 11:00 Talk by Aunty Sue Ellen Tighe on Astronomy in Coonabarabran and Australia
11:00 – 11:30 Morning tea
11:30 – 12:45 Tour of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope facilities, 3D Movie “Our Sun”, plus Q&A
12:45 – 1:45 Lunch + visit to the Anglo-Australian Telescope 4-metre
2:00 – 3:30 Solar Observing, Using NASA SOHO satellite data to predict solar cycles and sunspots, measuring solar activity without a telescope
3:30 – 4:00 Afternoon tea
4:00 – 5:00 Observations of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Solar System from Indigenous Australians
5:00 – 5:45 Dinner
5:45 – 7:00 Telescope observations of Jupiter, Saturn, Alpha Centauri, and Omega Centauri
7:00 Departure

The students had a very full day. In all, it was a success and we look to run regular school visits programs at Siding Spring. We are also planning for National Science Week programs there and upgrades to the educational experience at SSO, including getting exhibits on loan from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Siding Spring is one of the best scientific facilities in the country, yet in relation to regular STEM activities not much as happens – we are going to change that.