2014-10-18 Polynesian Astronomy: Cultural Astronomy!

View of the islands of Hawai’I taken by the crew aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1988. Courtesy NASA.
View of the islands of Hawai’i taken by the crew aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1988. Courtesy NASA.

Saturday 18 October, 6 to 7:45pm
Polynesian Astronomy: A Cultural Astronomy Event!
Of calendars and kings: gods, temples, the Pleiades, and social upheaval in ancient Hawai‘i

Hear from one of the world’s experts on cultural astronomy, Professor Emeritus Clive Ruggles, from Leicester University who has just returned from Hawaii where he has explored the astronomical significance of the polynesian culture. Then look through telescopes and find out about Australian Aboriginal astronomy in the planetarium with our local Aboriginal astronomers. Entry includes a glass of wine, cheese and biscuits. Pre-bookings and payment required. 
Cost: $18 adult, $14 conc. (seniors and students); Members $16 adult, $12 conc. 


Abstract from Professor Ruggles:
Astronomy occupied a prominent place within religious practices, navigation, and calendrical traditions in the Hawaiian Islands, as it did throughout ancient Polynesia. Uniquely in Hawai‘i, though, Polynesian chiefdoms became transformed into archaic states during the centuries following the end of long-distance voyaging. Archaeoastronomy, the study of beliefs and practices relating to the sky, is relevant to understanding the social, political and ideological factors that contrived to bring this about. In this talk I will describe my fieldwork with archaeologist Patrick V. Kirch studying the orientations of temple platforms and their connections with astronomy, the calendar, and dryland agriculture, and I will present some of our ideas of how these were linked to the emergence of “god-king” cults in the final centuries preceding the arrival of the Europeans.

Cive Ruggles
Clive Ruggles surveying a complete Kahikinui temple site of typical L-shaped form in the middle of a lava flow in Hawai’i.