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Aboriginal Aurora

5 January 2022

At www.academia.edu/35582047/Did_Aboriginal_Australia_record-a_simultaneous… … by Fuller and Hamacher in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage  20{3] pages 349-359 [2017]. Australian researchers have recently homed in on Aboriginal tribal lore to see if they have preserved a memory of unusual geological incidents and astronomical events in the past. They lighted on an oral tradition collection by a school teacher, one Charles Peck, back in the 1930s. This appears to describe two simultaneous phenomena. Loathe to invoke anything of a catastrophic bent it has been interpreted as a reference to auroral phenomena, at the same time as an eclipse. It began with the aurora where the sky was in turmoil while down below all was calm and serene. However, it then grew dark – in daylight hours. Darkness blotted out all light, for a time. No stars could be seen. At a later moment, a wondrous light appeared and long streams of liquid fire shot across the heavens from pole to pole. One may wonder if the Aborigines would have said that as pole to pole is a modern concept, so the account may have been doctored – possibly by the researchers who were thinking in terms of aurora at the poles when in fact, on occasion, aurora can erupt from minor poles. Anyway, the basic story is there was a lot of auroral activity – and a wondrous light. It had nothing to do with the sun or the stars, as they were blacked out. The streams of fire changed colour and moved in waves from east to west. Red and yellow, purple and brown, pink and grey, golden and black, white and pale green. All the colours in long straight fingers waved and crossed, and passed away towards the east. Then came a switch in the sky as the lights faded and the clouds passed. The stars reappeared in the sky. It was still dark above, but it was now night time [or this is how it is interpreted].

The authors seek to understand the phenomenon in terms of what happens in the present. The idea it was an extraordinary event is lost in their interpretation. Why on earth would Aborigines preserve a memory of an eclipse – which is quite every day. The fact that aurora were seen in Australia is unusual but these aurora were dramatic, and if they had an origin in the minor poles it could only apply to a few events during the Holocene. This is lost by the authors. It sounds very much like the kind of auroral activity envisaged by Marinus van der Sluijs. See the review of his latest set of books in C & C Review 2021:3. The book used as a baseline by the authors is 'Australian Legends: Tales Handed Down from the Remotest Times by the Autochtonous Inhabitants of our Land' by Charles Peck which is described as a rich sources of Dreaming Stories.

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