Friday, November 29, 2002

Assembling the Digital Sky

"Scientists in the United States, armed with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, are building a National Virtual Observatory (NVO) that will make the world’s huge store of astronomical data available to anyone with a Web browser."

I love archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy - "The sky is the same. The constructions placed upon it vary by culture [and through time]. Ethnoastronomy seeks to explore and understand these constructions and their places within the larger cultural milieu." And I hope that they'll give us the option of engaging the cultural origins of skywatching and how different cultures identify constellations.

The highland Andean Quechua people consider the Milky Way to be a giant river, and accordingly, the surrounding constellations include animals like llamas, and different intensity star clusters form clouds. And there is no empty space: spaces without stars also become part of the celestial landscape, sort of like reverse-constellations.

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