The First Astronomers: A Conversation with Uncle Ghillar Michael Anderson

A starry night in the bush. The emu in the sky is visible in the milky way. There are large trees visible on the ground. Some of the trees are lit up from below, from either a fire or light.

The recording of the The First Astronomers: A Conversation with Uncle Ghillar Michael Anderson and N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs can now be watched online.

Drawing on the soon-to-be-released book ‘The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders read the stars’, Uncle Ghillar and Duane will discuss Indigenous sky knowledge.

First Nations Elders are expert observers of the stars. They teach that everything on the land is reflected in the sky, and everything in the sky is reflected on the land.

These living systems of knowledge challenge conventional ideas about the nature of science and the longevity of oral tradition. Indigenous science is dynamic, adapting to changes in the skies and on Earth, pointing the way for a world facing the profound disruptions of climate change.

"This book marks a profound paradigm shift in our understanding of Indigenous scientific traditions, how they are transmitted, and their relevance to life today."

- Professor Marcia Langton, University of Melbourne

The event will be a conversation between Uncle Ghillar and Duane and audience questions are welcome.

There will be an opportunity to have your copy of The First Astronomers signed after the event, so please bring it along! The book is currently available for preorder and will be released on 1 March 2022.


Ghillar Michael Anderson is a Senior Law Man, Elder, and leader of the Euahlayi Nation from Goodooga, New South Wales. He is the only surviving co-founder of the 1972 Aborignal Tent Embassy and has been an activist for more than 50 years. Uncle Ghillar was taught Euahlayi customs and traditions through his people's sacred ceremonies and is a traditional astronomy expert, having published several academic papers on Aboriginal astronomy, and is a co-author of The First Astronomers. In 2021, a 2.7 km wide asteroid was named 10040 Ghillar by the International Astronomical Union in honour of his contributions to astronomy.

Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ASTRO-3D Centre of Excellence and the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. His work specialises in the intersection of astronomy with culture, heritage, history, and society. He earned graduate degrees in astrophysics and the social sciences and is leading initiatives in Indigenous astronomy and dark sky studies.

Important event information

COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for anyone attending a University of Melbourne campus. You will be required to show proof of vaccination upon arrival. You can read more information about this requirement here.

NOTE: Please do not attend if you have a fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss or change in sense of taste or smell — however mild.

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