Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

The Sun, The Moon and Chaco Canyon: Recent Findings by the Solstice Project

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

February 07, 2017


For Immediate Release: February 7, 2017 (Albuquerque, NM)— In 1977, artist Anna Sofaer visited Chaco Canyon as a volunteer recording rock art. There she rediscovered the now-famous Sun Dagger site, a set of spiral petroglyphs marked by dagger-shaped light forms on the summer and winter solstices and at the spring and fall equinoxes. The site has inspired three decades of research through the non-profit Solstice Project, including new findings that will be presented in an evening lecture at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science on February 17, from 7:00-8:30pm.

“New Mexicans have a long history in space science,” said Jayne Aubele, Museum Educator and Planetary Geologist. “From the Sun Dagger to current Mars Missions, our people have been studying the sky for a thousand years. The story of archaeoastronomy in Chaco Canyon is an amazing part of this legacy."

Following an introduction by Paul Pino, former Lt. Governor and former War Chief of Laguna Pueblo, Anna Sofaer and Solstice Project research associate Rob Weiner will explore the Chaco people’s complex solar and lunar astronomy, including new evidence of Chaco’s relationship with Mesoamerican cultures, the landscape and the Chaco road system. Lecture attendees will view a digital model of the sun dagger and preview the Solstice Project’s new film, “Written on the Landscape: Mysteries Beyond Chaco Canyon.”

Anna Sofaer is the author of the book, "Chaco Astronomy: An Ancient American Cosmology," and produced, directed, and co-wrote the award-winning PBS documentaries "The Sun Dagger" and "The Mystery of Chaco Canyon." Robert Weiner is a Research Affiliate with the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University and a Research Fellow with the Solstice Project.

The lecture will take place at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Tickets are available for $6 for general admission, $5 for museum members, and $4 for students. Reserve your seat by purchasing tickets at or—if seats are still available—at the door the evening of the event. Seating is limited.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a Division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The Department of Cultural Affairs is New Mexico’s cultural steward and is charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, eight historic monuments, arts, archaeology, historic preservation and library programs, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs is the largest state cultural agency in the nation. 

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