The Great Canoes in the Sky: Starlore and Astronomy of the South Pacific

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Springer, Nov 29, 2016 - Science - 233 pages
Presenting spectacular photographs of astronomical objects of the southern sky, all taken by author Stephen Chadwick, this book explores what peoples of the South Pacific see when they look up at the heavens and what they have done with this knowledge. From wives killing brothers to emus rising out of the desert and great canoes in the sky, this book offers the perfect blend of science, tradition and mythology to bring to life the most famous sights in the heavens above the southern hemisphere. The authors place this starlore in the context of contemporary understandings of astronomy. The night sky of southern societies is as rich in culture as it is in stars. Stories, myths and legends based on constellations, heavenly bodies and other night sky phenomena have played a fundamental role in shaping the culture of pre-modern civilizations throughout the world. Such starlore continues to influence societies throughout the Pacific to this day, with cultures throughout the region – from Australia and New Zealand in the south to New Guinea and Micronesia in the north - using traditional cosmology as a means of interpreting various aspects of everyday life.
 

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Contents

The Wanderers Through the Stars
1
The Long Backbone of the Sky
35
Two Clouds and a Cross
53
The Sky Is an Ocean
67
Navigating by the Stars
101
The Birds of the Southern Night Sky
123
The Heavenly Sisters
151
In the Beginning
181
Observing the Universe in the Modern Age
197
Maps
213
Bibliography
217
Index
224
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About the author (2016)

Martin Paviour-Smith is a lecturer in linguistics at Massey University, New Zealand, with a speciality in language and culture in the South Pacific. He has worked and lived with indigenous peoples of the region describing the language and collecting stories and traditions from various cultures. He has a longstanding interest in the stars, particularly in what cultures do with their knowledge of the sky above them. He has published widely in the fields of socio- and applied linguisitics, and in cultural studies.

Stephen Chadwick lectures in astronomy and the philosophy of science at Massey University, New Zealand. He is also an astro-photographer and in 2013 co-authored the Springer-published book Imaging the Southern Sky, which contained over 150 of his astronomical images. His images have also appeared in scholarly scientific journals worldwide (including Keele University’s Magellanic Clouds Newsletter and the Journal of the RASNZ) as well as popular astronomy magazines such as Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, the BBC’s Sky at Night magazine, Astronomy Now, and The Observatory. They have also appeared on the BBC and NZ television, as well as in national and international newspapers.

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