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Duane Hamacher - University of Melbourne. Melbourne, Victoria, AU

Duane Hamacher Duane Hamacher

Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy | University of Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Academic, Astronomer, Science Communicator






Look up! There's an emu in the sky: Duane Hamacher at TEDxNorthernSydneyInstitute Australian Indigenous Astronomy - 65.000+ Years of Science




Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on cultural astronomy, Dark Sky studies, astronomical heritage, and the history and philosophy of science. He is Secretary of the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Chair of the IAU Working Group on Ethnoastronomy & Intangible Heritage, and member of the IAU Working Group on Star Names.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (9)


History of Meteoritics




History & Philosophy of Science


Rock Art

Cultural Astronomy

Accomplishments (1)

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, Australian Research Council (professional)


"Exploring Astronomical Knowledge and Traditions in the Torres Strait" The purpose of this study is to chart Torres Strait Islander customs and traditions with a deep connection to the sun, moon, and stars before they are lost to the world. A well-researched and documented library of astronomical knowledge will help Islanders continue longstanding traditions in developing knowledge about their place in the world.

Education (4)

New Bloomfield High School, Missouri: Diploma, High School 1996

New Bloomfield, Missouri.

University of New South Wales: Master of Science (by Research), Observational Astronomy 2008

Thesis title: "A search for transiting extrasolar planets from the Southern Hemisphere"

University of Missouri-Columbia: Bachelor of Science, Physics 2004

Macquarie University: Doctor of Philosophy, Cultural Astronomy 2012

Thesis title: "On the astronomical knowledge and traditions of Aboriginal Australians"

Affiliations (4)

  • Astronomical Society of Australia
  • International Society of Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture
  • Royal Society of Victoria
  • International Astronomical Union

Media Appearances (1)

Look up! There's an Emu in the Sky

TEDxNorthernSydneyInstitute  tv


A trained astrophysicist, Dr Duane Hamacher is a lecturer in the Nura Gili Indigenous Centre at the University of New South Wales. After studying planets orbiting other stars for two years, his interest in the crossroads of science and culture was too great and he decided to complete a PhD in Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. He researches in how navigating the boundaries between Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science can show how these ways of understanding the natural world are beneficial to both.

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Research Grants (2)

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Australian Research Council $352,000


The astronomical knowledge of Indigenous people across the world has gained much significance as scientists continue to unravel the embedded knowledge in material culture and oral traditions. As social scientists gain a stronger role in emerging scholarship on Indigenous astronomy, growing evidence of celestial knowledge is being rediscovered in artefacts, iconography, document archives, literature, folklore, music, language and performances. This project seeks to investigate an underexplored area of astronomical knowledge in Australia. It will be the first comprehensive study of the astronomical traditions of Torres Strait Islanders and will add to the growing body of knowledge regarding Indigenous astronomy.

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List of Minor Grants and Scholarships

Monash University 


List of grants with details.

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Courses (2)

ATSI 2015: The Science of Indigenous Knowledge

ATSI2015 Science and Indigenous Knowledge provides a framework for students to explore the history and development of science in both Western and Indigenous contexts by learning how knowledge systems are developed and how this knowledge is passed down to successive generations through oral tradition and material culture.

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ATSI 3006: The Astronomy of Indigenous Australians

Students will then learn about the various ways in which the sun, moon, and stars inform and guide Indigenous practices such as navigation, calendar development, and food economics, as well as identity, spirituality, social structure, marriage laws, and totem classes.

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Articles (1)

Complete List of Publications

University of Melbourne


All publications, listed with links to published papers or available preprints.

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