AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 11. Observatories, Telescopes and Instruments
Display, Wednesday, January 6, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[11.03] A Central Texas Sun Dagger

R.R. Robbins (University of Texas as Austin)

One of the largest pictograph sites in the Americas is found at Paint Rock, in central Texas. On December 22, 1996, at approximately mid-day, a bright spear-shaped spot of sunlight was accidentally observed to be moving through the rocks. Observations the next year confirmed that the Sun Dagger reached its maximum altitude within a few minutes of the expected time and date for a winter solstice hierophany. Also, at maximum altitude, the Dagger reached the very center of a shield-like glyph that signifies an Indian council meeting of 5 tribes.

I suspected that there was probably also a summer solstice event of some sort, but it was not clear how to patrol a half-mile site in the hope of being at the right time at the right place. However, I was successful in employing folklore attached to some of the glyphs to help me decide where to stand and make a prediction. And right on schedule, a summer solstice sun dagger appeared, reaching maximum altitude at approximately the proper time.

There is some possibility that a vernal equinox display exists as well, but its interpretation is more problematical. Many of the glyphs at Paint Rock are still undeciphered.

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