Saturday, September 2, 2017


Photograph Becky Green Bowman,
August 21, 2012, Knoxville,

We were lucky enough to reach a location (Wheatlands, Wyoming) to view the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse in totality. I will omit any whining about the traffic, and the price gouging for motel rooms, and will focus on the ideas that came out of
observing this amazing phenomenon.

August 21, 2017 eclipse in partial
phase, the moon's encroachment on
the Sun is not visible. Photograph
Peter Faris, August 21, 2017.

One lesson that was immediately apparent as we watched the eclipse proceed was that the old wife's tale about explorers saving their lives from primitive natives by correctly predicting an eclipse must be totally untrue. As the moon proceeded to cover the sun the appearance of the sun did not vary. The world got dimmer, and cooler, but the brilliance of the remaining portion of the sun made it impossible to see a bright disk being consumed by the dark moon. The sun remained an unbearably bright light in the sky up until literally just a moment before totality. The process of a "sky monster" eating the sun could not, I repeat could not, have been viewed without proper eclipse filters.

I also believe that this would apply to eclipse mythology such as this.
"To the Vikings thought that an eclipse occurred, when a pack of wolves chased the sun across the sky and then captured the celestial orb. Meanwhile in Vietnam, it was a giant frog that devoured our nearest star. And in the Pacific Northwest, the Pomo Indians rationalized that the culprit was a giant bear. Even in ancient China, people believed that a giant dragon was the cause of the sun's demise." (

Photograph by Becky Green
Bowman, August 21, 2017,
Knoxville, Tennessee.

As was observable during the August 21, 2017 total eclipse, you do not see any sort of diminishing crescent during a solar eclipse, indeed you do not see anything removed from the disc of the sun until it is literally in the "diamond ring" phase of the eclipse immediately followed by the blackened disc of totality.

Pinhole projection of partial eclipse.
Photograph Peter Faris, May 20, 2012.

In order to see the bite being taken out of the sun you either need proper eclipse filters, or you need to use the pinhole camera technique to project its image on a white surface.

This realization should be applied to any rock art identified as a representation of an eclipse. If it shows a crescent it is probably not an eclipse, because the creator of the rock art would not have seen a crescent when observing the eclipse supposedly being pictured.

Raftopolis Ranch, Moffat County,
Colorado. Photograph Peter Faris,
September 1987.

Pecos rock art, Texas. 
Photograph Teresa Weedin.

On February 9, 2013, I posted a column titled A Possible Total Eclipse Of The Sun In Rock Art, showing a petroglyph from northwestern Colorado which shows the sun as a disc surrounded with triangular prominences or flames. This was followed on February 23, 2013, with another posting titled Another Possible Solar Eclipse Symbol In Rock Art about my identification of the Zia Sun Symbol as a possible representation of a total solar eclipse. Both of these cases show a symbol that can be interpreted as the totality stage of a solar eclipse. A definite disc surrounded by rays or prominances.

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Public Domain.

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Public Domain.

A widely reported recent example of a petroglyph from Chaco Canyon which supposedly illustrates a solar eclipse does indeed show rays or prominences (flames?) around its edges, but it lacks the circle defining the blackened interior of the sun obscured by the moon. For this reason, while I accept it as a possible sun symbol, I certainly cannot accept it as an illustration of an eclipse. To my thinking it just does not fit all the criteria to illustrate a total eclipse.


Faris, Peter
2013 A Possible Total Eclipse Of The Sun In Rock Art, February 9,

2013 Another Possible Solar Eclipse Symbol In Rock Art, February 23,

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