Comets in Australian Aboriginal astronomy

Duane W. Hamacher, Ray P. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present 25 accounts of comets from 40 Australian Aboriginal communities, citing both supernatural perceptions of comets and historical accounts of historically bright comets. Historical and ethnographic descriptions include the Great Comets of 1843, 1861, 1901, 1910, and 1927. We describe the perceptions of comets in Aboriginal societies and show that they are typically associated with fear, death, omens, malevolent spirits, and evil magic, consistent with many cultures around the world. We also provide a list of words for comets in 16 different Aboriginal languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • comets
  • Aboriginal Australians
  • ethnoastronomy
  • history of astronomy


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