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Ancient record of supernova?

  1. Apr 15, 2012 #1
    Forty years ago I went on a river trip in Utah's Canyon of Desolation. This is a five day trip with no roads or habitation the entire time. In the middle of the trip there is a prominent panel of petroglyphs. Over the years I went on that trip maybe four times and the memory of one of those petroglyphs stuck with me. It was a spiral with a long tail coming down from it, and the tail was crossed by vertical lines at regular intervals.

    Somehow I got the idea that this might be a record of the supernova of 1054. I've been on that trip four or so times, so one of those times I counted the vertical lines. If this number matched the number of days that the supernova was visible during the day, then that has to be a record of the event. I counted the marks but didn't follow through; I didn't find out how many supernova days there were. I've long since forgotten what the count was.

    Recently I found that the number of days was 23. I thought, a photo of that panel must be on the Internet somewhere, and indeed there is. Unfortunately you can't quite count the number of days because the tail disappears behind a bush, but using both photos I count twenty and I know that a few are hidden. It clearly it can't be much more than 23 because they run out of panel. It must be close. My sister has friends who make that trip, I'll ask them to photograph it.

    http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/848-02858492/Tourist-drawing-petroglyphs-Desolation-Canyon-Utah [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2012 #2


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    Lots images of Utah’s Canyon of Desolation, possibly including those photos you linked:

    A petroglyph by the Hohokam in White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Maricopa County, Arizona, has been interpreted as the first known North American representation of the supernova of 1006. It might also depict the passing of Halley's Comet in 1066. I myself have examined the ancient “rupestres” in Inga, Paraiba, Brasil and found similar figures. Several parts of this yet undeciphered work may correspond to astronomical events, but no one can confirm this with any certainty.

    You are proposing an interpretation that the petroglyph in Utah represents the supernova of 1054. Even if the count of vertical lines count up to 23, how can we ever know how many days the event was visible from that location over one thousand years ago? Seems to me it can only amount to speculation, for whatever that is worth.

    http://articles.cnn.com/2006-06-05/tech/rock.art_1_supernova-petroglyph-night-sky?_s=PM:TECH [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Apr 16, 2012 #3


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    regardless of which SN it may depict. Its still something to be amazed at !!

    I am not aware of anything in old art by the aborigine people of Australia
    but now I'm going to have to do some investigating :)

    The Aborigine, like the North American Indians, the Inca, Mayan etc they all had a close affinity with the land and sky. So its possible something may have been found

  5. Apr 17, 2012 #4
    It seems to me that it should have been visible for the same amount of time everywhere on Earth. The main difficulty would be cloud cover on the first or last day. Desolation Canyon is desert and cloud cover would seldom be a problem there.

    It is also possible that the number of days would differ by one from area to area. That is, an extra half day might be counted as a day in one place and not in another. This would be interesting in that it would give us a slightly more exact measure of the length of the event.
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