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In Photos: Ancient Rock Art Depicts Total Solar Eclipse in Chaco Canyon

Wondrous event

Rock art showing a possible solar eclipse from A.D. 1097 in Chaco Canyon.

(Image credit: J Mckim Malville/University of Colorado)

About 1,000 years ago Chacoans (early Pueblo people) captured their wondrous experiences of a total solar eclipse by carving the celestial event into a rock. The petroglph reveals a circle with looping streamers that resemble the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona. Researchers think the rock art not only suggests the Chacoans celebrated, rather than feared, this event, but that they saw a coronal mass ejection during the eclipse. [Read full story on the solar eclipse petroglyph]

Chaco Ruins

Kiva at Pueblo Bonito at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.

(Image credit: Nagel Photography/Shutterstock)

The petroglyph was discovered among the ruins of the Chacoans, who thrived in Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico, between A.D. 900 and 1150.

Rock of the Sun

Scientists found the petroglyph depicting a solar eclipse among others etched into a large boulder called Piedra del Sol, located in Chaco Canyon, near the ruins of a cultural hub for the Chacoans; the Chacoans thrived there between A.D. 900 and 1150.

(Image credit: J Mckim Malville/University of Colorado)

Scientists found the petroglyph depicting a solar eclipse among others etched into a large boulder called Piedra del Sol, located in Chaco Canyon, near the ruins of a cultural hub for the Chacoans; the Chacoans thrived there between A.D. 900 and 1150.

Swirling Sun

The rock art depicting a solar eclipse, possibly from A.D. 1097, looked "more celebratory than frightening," said a University of Colorado archaeoastronomer.

(Image credit: J Mckim Malville/University of Colorado)

The rock art depicting a solar eclipse, possibly from A.D. 1097, looked "more celebratory than frightening," said a University of Colorado archaeoastronomer.

Spanish eclipse

At the Spanish eclipse of July 18, 1860, the astronomer Gugleimo Temple, who was stationed in Torreblanca in Spain, drew what looks to be a coronal mass ejection during the total solar eclipse.

(Image credit: Courtesy of University of Colorado)

At the Spanish eclipse of July 18, 1860, the astronomer Gugleimo Temple, who was stationed in Torreblanca in Spain, drew what looks to be a coronal mass ejection during the total solar eclipse.

Coronal mass ejection

The petroglyph at Chaco Canyon seems to portray a coronal mass ejection (CME) during a total solar eclipse in A.D. 1097. Here, a NASA image showing an actual ejection of the sun's plasma on Feb. 27, 2000.

(Image credit: NASA)

The petroglyph at Chaco Canyon seems to portray a coronal mass ejection (CME) during a total solar eclipse in A.D. 1097. Here, a NASA image showing an actual ejection of the sun's plasma on Feb. 27, 2000.

Supernova art

Petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon are not uncommon. Here a petroglyph depicting a supernova is etched into Piedra del Sol at Chaco Canyon.

(Image credit: J Mckim Malville)

Petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon are not uncommon. Here a petroglyph depicting a supernova is etched into Piedra del Sol at Chaco Canyon.