Dreamtime constellation to light up the night sky in April/May

Living Well | Author: Perry Vlahos | Posted on 25 March 2020

A beautiful bird is set to take flight in the night sky from April.

In the best Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny tradition – it’s Emu Season! 

That’s right, April and May are the premier months for hunting emu; but I’m not suggesting shooting emus with a rifle. You may be able shoot one with a camera, however. It’s going to be an easy target and you’ll not miss, because it’s the most enormous emu you’ll ever see. In fact, its enormity is of galactic proportions. I guarantee this emu is even larger than the pheasant at Gumbuya World – though this location may be a good spot to view it from.

Emu constellation

I’m talking about a celestial bird, an Aboriginal constellation that owes nothing to the traditional western view of the starry sky, and is a unique Indigenous creation. 

It’s larger by far than any of the formally recognised constellations, but you’ll not find it in any celestial chart or star atlas. Furthermore, unlike regular constellation figures, it’s not made up of any stars, yet it’s easy to distinguish and stretches majestically from the eastern horizon all the way to the high southern sky. 

Once seen, you’ll be left amazed at how you’ve never noticed it before. It is that remarkable.

To European eyes over 200 hundred years ago, Australia was a strange land. But it wasn’t just flora and fauna that were different, the shapes created by stars were unfamiliar, too. Furthermore, in the case of The Emu, it wasn’t made up of ‘join-the-dot’ stars to sketch out a constellation;. No, this figure was dreamt up out of the dark clouds of gas and dust along the length of the Milky Way.

It’s easy to see this time of year in the early evening rising vertically in the southeast sky. There is a caveat though – you’ll not glimpse it from the city. You’ll need to get far away from city lights and into the country. If you can see the Milky Way, you can see The Emu. The ‘head and beak’ are the ‘coalsack’ under the left arm of the Southern Cross. The ‘neck’ runs downwards through the two bright stars known as the ‘Pointers’. The ‘body’ runs through the scorpion’s tail and on to the bulge of the Milky Way in Sagittarius near the horizon. 

Viewed under the best conditions, it’s an enormous and spectacular figure which can transport us back thousands of years to the Dreamtime.