Archeoastronomy in Chaco Canyon

Supernova Pictograph in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Shown above is the Supernova Pictograph in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. This is a really interesting piece of archeoastronomy for me because I saw this pictograph in real life with my dad. The artwork is said to depict a supernova that occurred in 1054 AD and would have been visible in the New Mexico sky during 23 days and 653 nights. The pictograph is placed on a horizontal overhang on an east facing wall, 500 meters from the northeast corner of Penasco Blanco. The crescent moon depicts the moon that would have occurred on July 5th, 1054. Calculations of the placement of the supernova in relation to the moon on the night it occurred places the moon at the correct position depicted in the artwork. It was a really cool piece of art to see because it is very vivid and painted in striking red, which is definitely rare for pictographs in the regions. Most are much more faded and painted in black. I feel like this shows just how crazy the supernova must have looked in the sky back then. Its hard to imagine the impact that an event like this would have had on life and culture back in a time when observing the stars was seen as looking into the heavens.

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