The red aurorae seen in southern Australian skies played an important role in Aboriginal culture (Image Credit: Alex Cherney Terrastro Gallery)
The aurora australis is seen by many Aboriginal groups as an omen of bushfires in the spirit world, according to a new study of traditional Indigenous oral culture.
The research, presented at the Australian Space Science Conference, found most traditional teachings associated the reddish hues of the aurora australis or southern lights, with blood, fire and death.
“That’s very different from the more festive stories associated with the aurora borealis or northern lights, in the traditional cultures of Canada, Siberia and Northern Europe”, says the paper’s author Dr Duane Hamacher of the University of New South Wales.
“Comets and eclipses were seen as omens, meteors as spirits, and aurora were seen as fires,” says Hamacher.