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Astronomer to Discuss Indigenous Astronomy
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Monday, July 11, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Learn how indigenous people interpreted the night sky when astronomer Catherine Slaughter presents a free talk, “Indigenous Astronomy.”

Slaughter, the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve astronomer in residence, will discuss the history and development of astronomical knowledge and relate the ancient sciences to modern discoveries.

The free presentation will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Hailey Town Center West. It is a presentation of the Hailey Public Library’s.

It was the Islamic cultures of 9th through 13th-century Middle East that played a behemoth role in furthering astronomical knowledge. In fact, a significant number of stars are known by their Arabic names. Later, some constellations like Orion and Cassipeia were assigned Greek and roman names.

And, of course, Native Americans looked to the stars for spiritual meaning, weaving stories about Coyote and Bear as they gazed upon the twinkling objects.

“No matter where they lived, indigenous peoples around the world were blessed with a dark night sky and pondered what they saw,” said Kristin Fletcher, the library’s programs and engagement manager. “They observed closely and maintained detailed knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, visible planets, stars and even constellations. It has been said that ‘indigenous astronomy’ is the first astronomy, starting thousands of years ago with the Australian Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.”

Slaughter has a Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy and Physics from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. There, she studied stellar evolution and globular clusters which are stable, gravitationally bound clusters of stars numbering in the tens of thousands to millions. She is completing a Master of Science in Astronomy Research from Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands, with a focus on the impact of particular stars in the Orion Nebula.

 

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