The stories behind Aboriginal star names

Star map painting by Senior Wardaman Elder Bill Yidumduma Harney, featuring the Milky Way, the Moon, and ancestor spirits.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has recognized 86 new star names from Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian, South African and Aboriginal Australian cultures. This represents a significant step forward by the IAU in recognizing the importance of traditional language and Indigenous starlore. Among the 86 new star names are four stars with Australian Aboriginal names—Larawag, Wurren, Ginan and Unurgunite. Aboriginal Australian cultures stretch back at least 65,000 years, representing the most ancient star names on the list.

The names include three from the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory and one from the Boorong people of western Victoria. The Wardaman star names are Larawag, Wurren and Ginan in the Western constellations Scorpius, Phoenix and Crux (the Southern Cross). The Boorong star name is Unurgunite in Canis Majoris (the Great Dog).

Want to learn more? Click through to this informative article at The Conversation.