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Hidden in the stars
Publication Date: 
December 2018

There is a strong link between space and Australia’s Indigenous people who are essentially the world’s oldest astronomers. For thousands of years the sky has been critical to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in dictating seasonal activities around food and movement, and a reflection of what is happening on the land.

This animated video tells the story of the Australian Space Agency’s brand identity.

At first glance, the logo appears as a satellite view of Australia. The dots alluding to the light created from human life and industry, which the Agency will support. But hidden within the dots are several significant Indigenous constellations that can be seen if we look up across Australian skies.

The brand captures Australia’s powerful cultural heritage and the spirit of the Agency—one that will look to space to provide real improvements for life on Earth.

Transcript

For thousands of years Indigenous Australians made sense of the land by looking to the sky.

[Constellation images appear.]

  • Emu in the Sky
  • Eagle’s Footprint and Claw
  • Stingray Pursued by Sharks
  • Women in the Sky
  • Wanjel and Yuree Pursuing Purra
  • The Seven Sisters
  • The Three Brothers
  • Ginan

Today we continue to look from Earth to space and from space to Earth.

[Australian Space Agency brand appears on black background.]

Using our unique location and skills we will transform and grow a globally respected space industry.

[Australian Space Agency brand appears on white background.]

We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to the land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Meaning of the Constellations

Emu in the Sky

A dark cloud next to the Southern Cross that stretches out across the Milky Way as an emu. In some cultures, the emu's position in the sky signals the best time for emu egg collection.

Eagle’s Footprint and Claw

The Kaurna People see the stars of the Southern Cross as the footprint from Wirltu the eagle’s claw. Echoed by other groups who all see a footprint or talons of the eagle.

Stingray Pursued by Sharks

A number of Indigenous groups see the Southern Cross as a stingray, often being pursued by sharks across the sky.

Wanjel and Yuree Pursuing Purra

A story from the Boorong People, Purra is the red kangaroo that was pursued by the hunters Wanjel and Yuree.

Women in the Sky

The Noongar People see the Southern Cross as four women that had camped near a forest and were swept into the sky.

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are seen as a group of women, being chased by a man, with songlines for the story stretching across our continent.

The Three Bothers

The stars in Orion are often seen as a group of men that are hunting, fishing in canoes or taking part in a corroboree.

Ginan

The Southern Cross, which many Australians are familiar with. The fifth star is now known by its Aboriginal name, Ginan, a small dilly bag full of songs of knowledge.

Credits

Consultancy on Indigenous Astronomy by Paul Curnow, Astronomy Lecturer at University of South Australia, Honorary Life Member of the Astronomical Society of South Australia and Lecturer at the Adelaide Planetarium.

The Australian Space Agency acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

Read more

Read more about the Australian Space Agency.

Contact us

Email enquiries@space.gov.au