An Introduction to Aboriginal Astronomy

This book gives you an easy-to-read introduction to what we know about Aboriginal Astronomy, and the current state of research into this area.

Each of the 400 different Aboriginal cultures in Australia has a distinct mythology, ceremonies, and art forms, some of which have a strong astronomical component. Many share common traditions such as the “emu in the sky” constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, Orion, and the Pleiades. Several use the rising and setting of particular stars to indicate the time to harvest a food source, and some link the Sun and Moon to tides, and even explain eclipses as a conjunction of the Sun and Moon.

Thse traditions reveal a depth and complexity of Aboriginal cultures which are not widely appreciated by outsiders. This book explores the wonderful mystical Aboriginal astronomical stories and traditions, and the way in which these are used for practical applications such as navigation and harvesting. It also describes the journey of exploration which is opening Western eyes to this treasury of ancient Aboriginal knowledge.

Click on the picture on the right to see a sample page of the booklet.


It's written by Prof. Ray Norris (an astrophysicist with CSIRO, and an Adjunct Professor at the Dept. of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University), and his wife Cilla. They have spent the last five years studying Aboriginal Astronomy.

Their research has included:

  • uncovering little-known academic manuscripts,
  • visiting Aboriginal sites throughout Australia, including the Sydney rock-art,
  • spending time with the Yolngu communities in Arnhem Land.

New: Listen to Ray and his friends talking about Aboriginal Astronomy on the ABC TV's "Message Stick" program on http://www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s2730570.htm

Purchasing this Booklet

30-page booklet


(plus $2.00 shipping)

Extra international postage cost for airmail delivery to anywhere in the world. $4.50

Buy Ray's novel, "Graven Images" (see www.gravenimages.com.au
for full details).


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Prices are in Australian dollars. Postage, packing, and insurance to anywhere in Australia is an extra $2.00, regardless of how many books or posters you buy, and will be added when you go to the checkout page. If you live outside Australia, please also click on the button for "extra postage" above. Postage, packing, and Insurance comes to a total of $2.00 for Australia, $6.50 international, regardless of how many items you buy.

If you have any questions, or if you would like a quote for wholesale quantities, please email Cilla on Cilla@emudreaming.com

The picture of the Emu in the Sky is available separately from www.emuinthesky.com


Emu Dreaming

An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy

By Ray and Cilla Norris

ISBN 978-0-9806570-0-5

  • Introduction
  • The Milky Way and the Emu
  • The Magellanic Clouds
  • Sun, Moon, and Eclipses
  • Calendars and Constellations
  • Morning Star, Evening Star
  • Astronomical measurements
  • Conclusion

The booklet is A5 size (148mm x 210mm), has 30 pages (excluding endnotes and cover), is illustrated with 22 colour photos, and printed on high-quality gloss-finish paper..

About the authors

Ray Norris is an astrophysicist at the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility. Born in England, he obtained an MA in theoretical physics at Cambridge, followed by a PhD and postdoc in radio-astronomy at Manchester, while also studying the astronomy of ancient standing stones. In 1983, Ray and his family moved to Australia where he joined CSIRO, and now researches the formation and evolution of the first galaxies in the Universe, and also the astronomy of Aboriginal Australians. He was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the Macquarie University Dept. of Indigenous Studies (Warawara) in 2008.

You can hear Ray talking on Radio National about his work with Wardaman elder Bill Yidumduma Harney on ABC Artworks: The First Astronomers

Cilla Norris has been an artist, high school teacher, veterinary nurse, wildlife sanctuary guide, and wild-life carer. As well as working with Ray on Aboriginal Astronomy, she is known as an authority on the care and rehabilitation of possums, and writes and teaches about possums to the NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) and other groups.

Emu Dreaming is a registered Australian Business (ABN 19639499560), run by Cilla. The goal of Emu Dreaming is to promote outreach and research in Australian Aboriginal Astronomy. All proceeds from sales on this website support research on Aboriginal Astronomy.

All material on this page © Ray and Cilla Norris 2009 except where otherwise indicated.