The Royal Australian Mint has released a new silver proof coin which depicts the story of the Emu in the Sky constellation in an Aboriginal art form. The coin is a part of a new collector series entitled ‘Star Dreaming’.
It can be said that Indigenous Australians were the first astronomers who have been using the stars as navigation maps, calendars, and to tell stories for tens of thousands of years. One of those particular tales handed down for generations is that of the Emu in the Sky, a well-known Aboriginal astronomical constellation which is actually outlined by dark areas of the night sky and not the stars.
To find the Emu in the Sky, you must first locate the Southern Cross constellation above the southern horizon. Two bright stars directly above due south are “the Pointers” to the Southern Cross. On the left-hand side of the Southern Cross, and on a clear night, you will find a dark oval shape, called the Coalsack Nebula. This is recognized as the head of the Emu, with its beak pointing downward. The long neck stretches to the left through the middle of “the Pointers” and the body and legs of the Emu stretch halfway across the horizon towards the east. While the head and neck of the Emu can be seen in the sky as early as March, it reaches its first appearance in full length after sunset in April and May, when it is seen stretching from the south to the southeast.
The majesty and wonder of the Emu in the Sky constellation are captured in the aboriginal style artwork of Wiradjuri artist Scott Towney, who depicts the constellation as a silhouette traced by the dark spaces in the Milky Way. Under the constellation depicted in color is a detailed image of an emu and her nest, along with a clutch of eggs. Next to the nesting emu are three young Aboriginal men posing and narrating the story of the Emu in the Sky with movement. The obverse depicts the Commonwealth effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The denomination ‘1 DOLLAR’ is placed under Queen’s likeness.
Image Courtesy: Royal Australian Mint