C5 – Commission C5 Cultural Astronomy


Astronomy is perhaps the oldest of sciences and ancient cultures used it to guide their daily lives by creating timekeeping systems based upon the movements of the Sun, Moon, and their constellations. The relationship with the sky is fundamental for the development of human societies, and each culture has its own way of employing their sky images and their perception of natural cycles that enhance their way of life. Astronomy was used for activities such as when to plant and harvest and it allows cultures to anticipate seasonal changes based upon observable recurring events driven by the Earth’s orbit about the Sun. The sky is important as a source of cultural reflections about their realities, and it also provides a means of determining the times for periodic religious observances. Cultural Astronomy examines the role of the sky for both ancient and contemporary peoples, and it explores cultural diversities in the context of natural science.

Cultural Astronomy includes archaeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, and astronomy that appears in certain aspects of contemporary culture.

Commission C5 embraces all goals of the IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030 and is especially well poised to enhance efforts with Goal 3 (astronomy as a tool for development), Goal 4 (engaging the public in astronomy), and Goal 5 (stimulating astronomy for education) as Cultural Astronomy is deeply immersed in the astronomy of contemporary Indigenous cultures, is very much an attention-getter for the public, and is also a fascinating way to introduce students to astronomy. As such, the commission strongly supports the work of the OAD, OAE, OAO, and OYA.

Upon request, Commission C5’s committee for Culturally Sensitive Sites can convey awareness regarding Indigenous concerns at locations where observatory facilities have been built upon culturally sacred grounds. It can also provide astronomers with insight to assist with future site selections.

Commission C5 is the IAU’s focal point for Cultural Astronomy and how it relates to other branches of astronomy, for research in the field, and for educating the public with examples of how astronomy is part of human cultures now and how it has been throughout world history. The commission exists to support any part of the IAU desiring its assistance.

All IAU members curious about Cultural Astronomy are invited to join the commission!

Commission Web Page

Commission Members (0)

Under Division

Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage

Steven Gullberg

University of Oklahoma
Director for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture, College of Professional and Continuing Studies
1610 Asp Avenue
Norman 73072
Oklahoma (OK)
United States

NCA adherence: United States

Last updated:
May 23, 2024

Alejandro Martín Lopez

Instituto de Ciencias Antropológicas
Sección de Etnología
Coleta Palacios 2087
Moreno, Buenos Aires 1744
Buenos Aires

Phone: +54 11-4432-0606
Organization website: http://www.filo.uba.ar

NCA adherence: Argentina

Last updated:
May 23, 2024

Susanne M Hoffmann

Friedrich Schiller University
Michael Stifel Center
Ernst-Abbe-Platz 2
07743 Jena

Organization website: https://www.mscj.uni-jena.de

NCA adherence: Germany

Last updated:
May 23, 2024

Javier Mejuto Gonzalez — National Outreach Coordinator

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras
Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy
Space Sciences Faculty
Blvd. Suyapa Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. Honduras
Tegucigalpa 11101

Organization website: http://faces.unah.edu.hn/arqueo/

NCA adherence: Honduras

Last updated:
May 23, 2024

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