Space in the Archipelago Image: The story of the Milky Way to Aruna

The Milky Way has become the name for the characteristic feature of the galaxy that is inhabited by Earth. Part of the wisdom of astronomical knowledge

The Milky Way has become the name for the characteristic feature of the galaxy that is inhabited by Earth. Part of the wisdom of astronomical knowledge


Netgenz - Sains | The image of the people of the archipelago has taken advantage of the series of stars in the sky in the wisdom of living the culture of their ancestors. Widya Sawitar, one of them, was a lecturer at the demonstration building for replicating the formation of stars and celestial bodies, Planetarium, Jakarta.

The man who received the Ganesa Widya Jasa Adiutama award from ITB in 2018 was actively looking for astronomical and cultural ties in Indonesia. Among them are the attachment of astronomical knowledge to folklore or folk narratives in the country, especially on the island of Java. His action in the world of astronomy has been started since 1992 after graduating from the study program in astronomy at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

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Widya is not new to the Jakarta Planetarium Observatory. Since childhood he has been in the area of ​​Cikini Raya, Central Jakarta. This is because Cikini has been his home since childhood. He told me that the land was 72,551 meters wide. The square, which is now called Taman Ismail Marzuki, was often visited as a child just to play in the afternoon with some of his friends.

"Yes, to the planetarium, the term is I just play. In the past, it was open and there weren't many buildings here. There is a Planetarium at the front, there is an open theater which is now a Jakarta theater," said Widya.

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Usually playing in the Jakarta Planetarium area, Widya explained that this influenced him to take higher education with a study program of astronomy knowledge. "Because they have been in the astronomical environment [so] chose to take the astronomical path," he said.

The story of the Milky Way to Aruna

Widya told the story that the relationship between astronomical knowledge and cultural results was really close. He gave examples of the pyramids in Egypt and Borobudur in Indonesia as examples of how strong the ties of culture and astronomy are. Besides that, according to him, folk narratives are also related to astronomy, such as giving the name to the Sun in Javanese civilization culture.

Based on his findings, there are more than 130 names for naming the Sun and more than 30 names for naming the Moon taken from naming puppet figures. "If the Sun has around 130 names, it's possible that the quite popular ones are Aditya, Baskoro, Arka, Aruna. Then there are 130 names just for the Sun. There are also more than 30 names for the Moon," he said.

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Furthermore, President Soekarno himself once referred to the galaxy we inhabit as Indonesia's characteristic name, the Milky Way, instead of using foreign terms. "The Milkyway mentioned the Milky Way at first (as) the depiction of some ancient people when they thought of the sky. He saw that an area previously depicted as if there was a figure of Bima in the sky, which we know as the Milky Way lane. And that's the name of our galaxy," explained Widya.

Furthermore, according to him, the Bima Sakti play itself was ordered by the teacher to do something as a proof of one's authenticity. One of them fought with the dragon, then he won and succeeded in finding the truth. "Because of that, the name Milky Way appears. Please read the Mahabharata, the first book. There is a play there."

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The cluster of stars in the sky

The cluster of stars in the sky


He said that the naming of celestial bodies in the past period was an adaptation of the names of certain figures or legends who were considered sacred, and then associated with something very high, namely celestial bodies. "Say that in Greece there is a constellation of Hercules. Apparently we have some of those names," he said.

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If in Indonesia, some people in the land of Java give the name of the planet with several names of gods. Like the planet Jupiter is named Wrahaspati, Mercury is called Buddha, and Mars is called Anggoro.

Because there are rows of similarities from various parts of the world, Widya relates that there are two factors that have the opportunity for the similarity to occur. One of them has a similar point of view or has cultural acculturation from other countries. "In this case, when India arrived in the fourth era, but here many people have had several [astronomical] names, and eventually acculturated," he said.

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Not only Indonesia

In seeking the attachment of wayang figures to astronomy, he did not only search for local dictionaries and literature. Widya studied folklore which correlated with astronomy in a number of other countries, such as India and China.

He mentioned naming celestial bodies or astronomical events abroad the same as in Indonesia. One example is an event such as an eclipse. In Indian or Chinese folk narratives it is said that there is a giant or dragon in it.

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Widya explained that the folk narration connected with astronomy stems from dogma, mythological culture or legend narration. He explained that every culture around the world has a certain narrative. Then it developed and became the name of astronomical events related to the seasons.

During a space event on the Moon, for example. In some countries have a variety of vocations. Some say it's a harvest moon, some say it's a blue moon, depending on the story that develops in each country. "We are also here and apparently say it in Java itself, what month date is there a name for the half moon and the full moon has a name," he said.

With the many similarities that have been carried out by humans in several corners of the world in the past period, Widya relates that the point of view of humans in any country has similar considerations, namely giving names in the discovery of astronomical knowledge. "It means that we and humans have the same mindset, it is more valuable. If there is a common thread between astronomical considerations in Indonesia and elsewhere," he said.

Inviting young people to be open to astronomy

In addition, Widya explained how to cooperate with the younger generation, especially children, so that they are interested in the world of astronomy. He explained that becoming an astronomer was like entering a chemistry and physics course, which when he graduated he had an expert degree.

However, knowledge of astronomy needs to be introduced to children from the beginning, because that knowledge is not included in the curriculum in school chairs. He said this while providing motivation to become an expert in the astronomy sector. "The meaning of giving motivation is to become an astronomer, like people look at biologists, physicists, mathematicians," he said.

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However, he did not refuse to invite the younger generation to be interested in the field of astronomical knowledge, an obstacle. But this can be done through programs or websites that cover a lot of astronomy.

Besides that, there are also steps that explain if astronomical knowledge is very closely related to the use of GPS. He explained that GPS technology is closely related to astronomical knowledge. He said this because he took advantage of calculations in the solar system. "If we don't know the coordinates of the sky, how will we fly the spacecraft," he said.

Besides that, he explained that he could also introduce celestial events that currently can only be predicted by some astronomers. For example, if Indonesia in 2023 will be hit by a total solar eclipse. The impact of the estimation calculation has an influence on the factors. For example on economic and recreational factors.

With calculations that have been carried out by several astronomers, the location of Indonesia's brightest areas witnessed the event. Until it automatically has a value that has financial and recreational effects for residents.

Next he explained the desire for knowledge in the section on astronomy. Widya hopes that astronomy will become a matter of advanced knowledge and can act not only in Indonesia. Even though the people's full awareness of astronomy itself is seen as a minority, the achievements to move forward must continue to be picked up.

"My desire is that kind especially for some young people," he explained. "Let's just think that what we currently get is just the cover of the book. Some young people have the contents of the book. Sometimes the cover is beautiful, but what about the contents of the book," concluded Widya.

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