If the superb seafaring abilities of Polynesians are any indication, their knowledge of celestial phenomena was vast. Some 3,500 years ago, the ancestors of the Polynesians led the speediest human expansion of the pre-historic world, guided by nothing more than their complex astronomical observations and an understanding of natural signs. This knowledge, coupled with tremendous navigational skills and human ingenuity, allowed the Polynesians to explore the vast Pacific Ocean and develop highly sophisticated cultures on hundreds of different islands. Yet few people know about these feats, and fewer still that Polynesian skywatching also served a far more important function: to establish a cycle of yearly activities, the heavens being the inspiration for cultural principles so significant that Polynesians saw in them the work of the gods.
Our aim is to enlighten our visitors regarding the Rapanui vision of the cosmos, the practical application of astronomic observation as well as its role in local mythology and religion. However, we are also committed to research and education, sharing educational programs with students free of charge, inviting qualified guest lecturers to do workshops and presentations, and carrying out projects that shed light on Rapanui and Polynesian archaeoastronomy by evaluating data using the planetarium and photogrammetry/3D-modelling. The Planetarium will bring to life the essence of the ancient Rapanui people, their culture and religious beliefs, starring the natural beauty of the the island, its people and its pristine skies. We hope to stir the emotions deep inside the hearts and minds of our visitors, invoking those feelings that pervade us when we observe the immensity of the night sky, that which encapsulates our past and future dreams.
© 2017 Alexandra Edwards Wix.com
Background photo courtesy of Jim Richardson