In Photos: Ancient Rock Art Depicts Total Solar Eclipse in Chaco Canyon
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]
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.
The rock art depicting a solar eclipse, possibly from A.D. 1097, looked "more celebratory than frightening," said a University of Colorado archaeoastronomer.
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.
Petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon are not uncommon. Here a petroglyph depicting a supernova is etched into Piedra del Sol at Chaco Canyon.
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Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
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