Museu da Ci�ncia - Universidade de Coimbra
AIA 2009

1 de Fevereiro
a 31 de Dezembro, 2009

The Sky Of Our Grandparents

January 26, 2010| 15H00
Science Museum of the University of Coimbra



Germano Afonso - Museu da Amazônia (MUSA) - Manaus (Brasil)
Germano Afonso and several students of different ethnic origins will describe myths of Astronomy from their cultures (via Skype)

Ana Lúcia Liberato Tettamanzy - Instituto de Letras da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brasil)
Videos collected by several students from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
comments by Ana Lúcia Liberato Tettamanzy ( via Skype)

Nucleo de Pastorícia do Fundão
Documentary produced with the colaboration of the population of Salgueiro - Três Povos, near Fundão.

Sandra Nabiça - Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Têxteis
Short film with portuguese stories of Astronomy

Isabel Silva - MACAPI
Tales of the Sun and the Moon

Chairs: Ana Paula Guimarães (IELT) and Carlota Simões (MCUC)


One year after its beginning, the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra is about to reveal the results of the project “The Sky of our grandparents" which has captivated several partners both in Portugal and Brazil.
A team coordinated by the Science Museum of Science of the University of Coimbra, and the Institute for the Study of Traditional Literature (IELT) of the New University of Lisbon left a year ago in search of the "sky of our grandparents´ and will now share with the public the result of his expedition. The session will take place on January 26 at the Science Museum of UC.
Over a year of collecting personal testimonies, stories, legends, songs, poetry and proverbs, the team coordinated by the Science Museum and the IELT revisited the endangered sky: the sky that our ancestors saw, the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. How a shepherd did know the time without a watch? What rituals were linked to the stars and which ones still exist? The film "O Rebanho das Estrelas" produced during 2009 answer some of these questions and will be presented during the session.
Brazil, through experts of the Amazonian Museum and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, was an active partner of the project. Germano Afonso, in Amazonia, has discovered amazing facts about the astronomical knowledge of the Amazonian indians.
According to Germano Afonso, who will take part of the meeting via Skype, the Indians observed the apparent motions of the sun to determine the solar noon, the cardinal points and seasons using a gnomon, which consists of a rod stuck vertically in the soil, which shows the shadow cast by the sun on a horizontal ground. "The gnomon is one of the most simple and ancient instruments of astronomy," he says.
The main goal of the project has been achieved. There exists now a network of contacts reaching the more rural and isolated populations, and the search for ancient knowledge will proceed during 2010.

This project "The Sky of our grand parents" pretends to involve the general public, in particular ancient people and rural and isolated populations, in collecting traditional stories in order to discover old myths and ancient knowledge of astronomy before they gets lost.
The Science Museum of the University of Coimbra is looking for partners who are willing to collect texts and stories all over the world and make them available to the public.
Contributions in Portuguese or English will be included in this website, and a link to websites with contributions in other languages will be included as well.
Any institution willing to be the organizing node in their country/region, may contact us by email ( and will be considered an associated partner of this project.

Associated Partners and Associated Projects:

- The Confederation of India Amateurs Astronomers, India

- Ghotb-o-Din Observatory, Shiraz, Iran

- Cultural Astronomy and Storytelling, YIA2009, USA

- The Ghana Science Project, Ghana

- Petnica Science Center, Serbia

- Museu da Amazônia (MUSA), Brasil

- Instituto de Letras da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil