This pictograph in Chaco Canyon is painted on a horizontal overhang of the cliff wall near the ruin of Peņasco Blanco. Evidence points to the pictograph being a depiction of the 1054 supernova.

On July 4, 1054 C.E., a massive star in the constellation Taurus exploded in a supernova. It remained visible by day for 23 days, and by night for 653 days. This supernova is now known as the Crab Nebula.

Calculations of the Moon's orbit back to July 5, 1054 have shown that the crescent moon was within 3 degrees of the supernova. That scene is depicted here, with a life-size hand (taken to indicate that the site is sacred). Standing with your back to the cliff, looking up, this pictograph comes as close as possible to being a true scale rendition of the 1054 supernova seen in conjunction with the waning moon.

Over a dozen other examples of rock art possibly representing the 1054 supernova can be found throughout the Southwest, but few are as astronomically convincing as this pictograph.


Back to main