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3.1 Can you see patterns in the night sky?

Europeans saw the shapes of animals and characters in the patterns made by the light of the stars.

The First Australians, on the other hand, interpreted the dark spaces between the stars, such as the Dark Emu in the night sky below. This image has been enhanced a little to help highlight the shape and features of the emu. Look carefully at the dark spaces and see if you can recognise the emu’s shape.

<p>Emu in the night sky constellation</p>

The Sequence Group

<p>Emu in the night sky constellation</p>

‘The Emu in the sky ... its position indicates ... the right time of the year to go looking for emu eggs.’

Kirsten Banks, Wiradjuri astrophysicist

1. For this exercise you will need a black piece of paper or card.
  1. Place your black paper or card on carpet.
  2. Using a safety pin, small paper clip, large paper clip and a sharp pencil, create hundreds of different sized holes all over the black area.
  3. Hold the paper up to the light.
  4. Interpret the light dots — what do you see?
  5. Interpret the dark spaces — what do you see?
  6. Create a story from what you can see in the dark and light spaces.
2. Look at the night sky on a clear night when you can easily see the stars.
  1. What patterns can you see made by the stars? (You may know some of these already.)
  2. Now look at the night sky again and see if you can make out patterns in the dark spaces between the stars. Does this way of looking at the night sky change the way you think about it? Discuss this in your class.
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