Explanation: A luminous Milky Way falls toward the horizon in this deep skyscape, starting at the top of the frame from the stars of the Southern Cross and the dark Coalsack Nebula. Captured in the dark predawn of February 2nd from Central Victoria, Australia, planet Earth, the 26 day old waning crescent Moon still shines brightly near the horizon. The second and third brightest celestial beacons are Venus and Jupiter along the lower part of the Milky Way's central bulge. Almost in line with the brighter planets and Moon, Saturn is the pinprick of light just visible below and right of the lunar glow. Australia's first astronomers saw the elongated, bulging shape of the familiar Milky Way as a great celestial Emu. The Moon and planets could almost be the Emu's eggs on this starry night.
<<The Five Chinese Brothers is an American children's book written by Claire Huchet Bishop and illustrated by Kurt Wiese. It was originally published in 1938 by Coward-McCann. The book is a retelling of a Chinese folk tale, Ten Brothers.
Long ago in China, there lived a family with five brothers who resembled each other very closely. They each possessed a special talent: the first one can swallow the sea; the second one had an iron neck that could not be cut by any swords; the third one can stretch his legs; the fourth one can survive the fire without being burned; and the fifth one can hold his breath forever. When one of the brothers, a very successful fisherman, agrees to let a young boy accompany him on his fishing trip, trouble results. He holds the entire sea in his mouth so that the boy can retrieve fish and treasures. When he can no longer hold in the sea, he frantically signals to the boy, but the boy ignores him and drowns when the man releases the water. The man is accused of murder and sentenced to death. However, one by one, his four brothers assume his place when subjected to execution and each uses his own superhuman ability to survive beheading, drowning, burning and suffocation. The judge decrees that the accused one must have been innocent the whole time, since he could not be executed, and the five brothers return home to their mother and they all lived happily together for many years.>>
I can't really agree that the aborigines were the "earliest astronomers". Telling stories about the sky certainly doesn't make one an astronomer. If anything, it trivializes the word. Noting the number of days from one full Moon to the next could be called early astronomy. But if the aborigines did that, so did other primitive groups.
Did they develop a mythology about the red planet moving retrograde when it was brightest? Or how the highest and lowest tides occurred when the Moon was new or full? Or how lunar eclipses only happened when the Moon was full? Those could be called early astronomy. But did ANY culture develop such mythology prior to systematic study? I'm in no way an expert, but I've never heard of one. If anyone has examples, I'd be interested in them.
I am not sure there are definitive claims that Australian Aborigines were the first astronomers, but they have been described as such.
Given that the cultures of these diverse groups were maintained through millennia, almost entirely as spoken stories, and given their tragic recent history since European settlement, it is no surprise that there are large gaps in what we know of these cultures. The wider awareness of Aboriginal astronomy and its continued rediscovery, is a fairly recent thing.
Based on what little I know of the topic, I would not hesitate to call it astronomy. Ancient astronomy. And I find it fascinating.