Johnson Urama, University of Nigeria; Jarita Holbrook, University of Edinburgh;
Before the advent of modern astronomy, our forebears had always wondered at the land, sea, and sky and struggled to make sense of it - looking for interconnections and interdependence. These facilitated deeper meanings such as the astronomy found in religious beliefs, cosmogonies, cosmologies, divination practices and sky mythologies. They observed the sky and sea for practical reasons such as for agriculture, navigation, time-keeping and weather prediction. Indigenous, endogenous, traditional, or cultural astronomy focuses on the many ways that people and cultures interact with celestial bodies from ancient times to knowledge still practiced today. The theme of this conference, 'Sea, Sky, and Land: Engaging in Solidarity in Endangered Ecologies' agrees, to a large extent, with the research and education collaboration between UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the IAU (International Astronomical Union) to implement 'Astronomy and World Heritage' as part of UNESCO's thematic initiative. The objective of which is to demonstrate a link between science and culture on the basis of research aimed at acknowledging both the cultural and scientific values of properties connected with astronomy. Underlaying this UNESCO initiative is properties must be of 'Outstanding Human Value', which begs the question of who determines this. This panel invites people studying ancient astronomical practices, astrophysicists, and those working with Indigenous peoples today to share practical steps of preserving, conserving and sustaining such Indigenous knowledge and practices.