animation of supernova explosion

Animation Of A Supernova

"Big Deer"

Site Of The Earliest Observation Known To Man
Of The Supernova Explosion Of 1054 AD.

Observed On May 24, 1,054 AD.

Located In The Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona.

Page One.

Eve & George DeLange.

Page Updated December 05, 2,012.

Crab Nebula or M1 Picture, Photo, Image.
This photograph of
"The Supernova Of 1054AD"
Or "The Crab Nebula," was imaged
by The FORS Team with the
8.2 Meter VLT, ESO,
on November 22, 1999.

Approximate Google Map To The "Big Deer" Supernova Site
In The Agua Fria National Monument. Arizona.

View Larger Map

Note: The "Big Deer" Supernova Site is now under the protection of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Agua Fria National Monument.

All prehistoric archaeological sites, in the Agua Fria National Monument are remote, and inaccessible. No sites have been developed for public visitation.

Visitors who encounter archaeological sites, such as the stone pueblos and rock art, are encouraged to observe, enjoy, and photograph them; while leaving all artifacts as found for others to discover and appreciate. Artifacts are a non-renewable resource, so we must take care of what remains.

NOTE: Defacing archaeological sites is vandalism and is punishable by law.


In 1975 while exploring a remote canyon in Central Arizona, we discovered a large collection of Sinagua petroglyphs that covered the North side of the canyon wall. One of the petroglyphs is of a great deer and it is about six feet wide and about four feet high. Because of this petroglyph, we named the location "Big Deer Site."

The wall of the cliff also had images of the crescent moon, with an observer looking at the moon, star images, sun images and what appear to be counting images. Below the cliff are two large flat stones which appear to show the surrounding canyon walls and the night sky as seen looking up from the canyon bottom.

Of course, we are well aware that the interpretation of petroglyphs is open to a lot of controversy and differences of opinion. This is because there is very little evidence available, as to what the original meanings of the petroglyphs are about.

From what we have found, this canyon is the site of an Ancient Sinagua Observatory.

Later on, in May of 1,984, George went back to the site with two fellow astronomer friends; Gene A. Lucas and Jim Vail, PhD.

They also had with them, a set of star charts, as well as an image of what the sky must have looked like when the supernova was reported to be first visible in the year 1,054 AD.

The way the images on the rocks matched up with the star charts for that period of time is more than coincidence.

A group of the Western Anasazi called the Sinagua occupied an area between Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona between 500 and 1,300 AD. They led a simple life based on corn farming and subsistence hunting and gathering. They also developed an extensive system of "Sun Watch" Shrines to record the events that were taking place in the heavens. These sun watch shrines were probably used to time the planting and harvesting of crops.

It appears that the "Ancient Sinagua Astronomers" in this "Secret Arizona Canyon," indeed saw and recorded the Supernova of 1,054 AD on May 24, 1,054 AD!

To date, the site has been studied by Dr. Allen Hwang, Gene A. Lucas, Dr. Jim Vail, Scott Pierce, Carol Pierce, Audrey DeLange, Eve DeLange, and George DeLange. Audrey is now deceased.

We will present our research and photographs on the following pages and let you be the judge!

Imagine how surprised an ancient sun-worshiping priest among the Anasazi Indians may have been to see a bright new star appearing "out of the blue" near the lower tip of the quarter moon one fine early morning (as reported by the Chinese).

The Anasazi Indians (prehistoric Pueblo Indians) lived in what is now known as New Mexico, U.S.A. They had many Sun-Watching shrines located on their lands. One Sun-Watching shrine was located in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, with a view of the sunrise throughout the year.

They observed summer and winter solstices to establish a calendar, possibly for some agricultural and social purposes. The moon and the bright new "Guest Star", rose an hour or so ahead of the morning sun. The motif of the star and a quarter moon is thought by some people to be on a sandstone roof in the shrine of the Chaco-Canyon sun watch shrine.

Modern astronomers could calculate that around July 5th in the year of the ``Guest Star", i.e. AD 1,054, such a conjunction would have happened within a few degrees in the sky. A similar picture was discovered at other prehistoric sites nearby.

Another notable site was found by two American astronomers, Helmut Abt and William Miller in the early 1,950s in a cave in White Mesa, in the neighboring state of Arizona. It was painted in red hematite on the wall of the cave.

Rock Art is very difficult to interpret, and while researchers wish to claim that these sites represent the "Crab Nebula" of 1,054 AD; the proof of such a claim at these two sites does not seem as strong as the proof represented by the rock art at "Big Deer".

Again, we will present our evidence and you can be the Judge!

Recently, Dr. Allen Hwang has visited the site and made several comparisons of the various petroglyphs at the "Big Deer" site with an astronomy software program that has the ability to define what the sky would have looked like at the time of the Supernova Explosion Of 1,054 AD.

Dr. Hwang has made some startling discoveries as to the comparisons of the images shown on the rock art and the images shown on the astronomy software program.

It appears from Dr. Hwang's research, that the petroglyphs on the canyon wall of the Big Deer Site show that the Sinagua Astronomers who were observing the "Crab nebula" from that site actually observed the Supernova on May 24, 1,054 AD.

At least five weeks, before the explosion was described by the Ancient Chinese!

Dr. Hwang's research seems to also be supported by the work of several other researchers who have supported the possibility that the Supernova of 1,054 AD may have been observed earlier than reported by the Chinese astronomers.

Among these researchers are: Drs. George W. Collins, William P. Claspy, John C. Martin, and John Fountain.

THE SINAGUA: 500 A.D. -- 1,300 A.D.

The Sinagua are the best known regional group that anthropologists refer to as the Western Anasazi. The Sinagua occupied an area between Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona between 500 and 1,300 AD. They led a simple life based on corn farming and subsistence hunting and gathering at the periphery of the three major Southwest cultures.

After volcanic activity improved soil conditions around 1,000 AD, the Sinagua began to thrive by assimilating various elements from the major cultural groups. From the Hohokam they acquired village life and the use of ball courts; from the Anasazi they adopted cliff dwellings and water conservation practices; from the Mogollon they adopted pottery styles.

By the late 1,450s, the same natural and social stresses that destroyed the other cultures of the region engulfed the Sinagua as well. By 1,450, they had completely disappeared. But, their dwellings and religious shrines can be found all over Central Arizona. One is even located in a city park in the city of Phoenix! It is called "Hole In The Rock."


The Crab Nebula is the most conspicuous known supernova remnant. This object caused Charles Messier to begin his well known Messier Catalog. It has also been the delight of many an amateur astronomer to discover the object for the first time in their very own optical telescope!

The supernova was noted on July 4, 1,054 A.D. by Chinese astronomers, and was about four times brighter than Venus, or about mag -6. According to the historical records, it was visible in daylight for 23 days, and 653 days to the naked eye in the night sky.

It was probably also recorded by Anasazi Indian artists (in present-day Arizona and New Mexico), as findings in Navajo Canyon and White Mesa (both AZ) as well as in the Chaco Canyon National Park (NM) indicate. In addition, Ralph R. Robbins of the University of Texas has found Mimbres Indian art from New Mexico, probably depicting the supernova.

The Supernova 1,054 was also assigned the variable star designation CM Tauri. It is one of few historically observed supernovae in our Milky Way Galaxy. The nebulous remnant was discovered by John Bevis in 1,731, according to Messier, who independently found it on August 28, 1,758, and first thought it was a comet, when looking for comet Halley on its first predicted return. Of course, he soon recognized that it had no apparent proper motion and cataloged it on September 12, 1,758. Although Messier's catalog was primarily compiled for preventing confusion of these objects with comets, M1 was again confused with comet Halley on the occasion of that comet's second predicted return in 1,835. It was christened the "Crab" on the ground of a drawing made by Lord Rosse about 1,844.

Of the early observers, Messier, Bode and William Herschel correctly remarked that this nebula is not resolvable into stars, while John Herschel and Lord Rosse, erroneously, thought it is "barely resolvable" into stars. They and others, including Lassell in the 1,850s, apparently mistook filamentary structures as indication for resolvability.

The first photo of M1 was obtained in 1,892 with a 20-inch telescope. First serious investigations of its spectrum were performed in 1,913-15 by Vesto Slipher; he found that the spectral emission lines were split; it was later recognised that the true reason for this is Doppler shift, as parts of the nebula are approaching us (thus their lines are blueshifted) and others receding from us (lines redshifted).

In 1,921, C.O. Lampland of Lowell Observatory, when comparing excellent photographs of the nebula obtained with their 42-inch reflector, found notable motions and changes, also in brightness, of individual components of the nebula, including dramatic changes of some patches near the central pair of stars (Lampland 1,921). The same year, J.C. Duncan of Mt. Wilson Observatory compared photographic plates taken 11.5 years apart, and found that the Crab Nebula was expanding at an average of about 0.2" per year; backtracing of this motion showed that this expansion must have begun about 900 years ago (Duncan 1,921). Also the same year, Knut Lundmark noted the proximity of the nebula to the 1,054 supernova (Lundmark 1,921). In 1,942 Walter Baade computed a more acurate figure of 760 years age from the expansion, which yields a starting date around 1,180; later investigations improved this value to about 1,140. The actual 1,054 occurrance of the supernova shows that the expansion must have been accelerated. The nebula consists of the material ejected in the supernova explosion, which has been spread over a volume approximately 10 light years in diameter, and is still expanding at the very high velocity of about 1,800 km/sec.

It emits light which consists of two major contributions (first found by R.F. Sanford in 1,919 by spectroscopic investigations, photographically confirmed by Walter Baade and Rudolph Minkowski in 1,930): First, a reddish component which forms a chaotic web of bright filaments, which has an emission line spectrum like that of diffuse gaseous (or planetary) nebulae. Second a blueish diffuse background which has a continuous spectrum and consists of highly polarised `synchrotron radiation', which is emitted by high-energy (fast moving) electrons in a strong magnetic field. Synchrotron radiation is also apparent in other "explosive" processes in the cosmos, e.g. in the active core of the irregular galaxy M82 and the peculiar jet of giant elliptical galaxy M87. These striking properties of the Crab Nebula in the visible light are equally conspicuous in the Palomar images post-processed by David Malin of the Anglo Australian Observatory, and in Paul Scowen's image obtained on Mt. Palomar.

In 1,948, the Crab nebula was identified as a strong source of radio radiation. X-rays from this object were detected in 1,964 with a high-altitude rocket; the energy emitted in X-rays by the Crab nebula is about 100 times more than that emitted in the visual light. Nevertheless, even the luminosity of the nebula in the visible light is enormous: At its distance of 6,300 light years (which is quite well-determined), its apparent brightness corresponds to an absolute magnitude of about -3.2, or more than 1,000 solar luminosities. Its overall luminosity in all spectral ranges was estimated at 100,000 solar luminosities or 5*10^38 erg/s !

On November 9, 1,968, a pulsating radio source, the Crab Pulsar (also cataloged as NP0532, "NP" for NRAO Pulsar, or PSR 0531+21), was discovered in M1 by astronomers of the Arecibo Observatory 300-meter radio telescope in Puerto Rico. This star is the right (south-western) one of the pair visible near the center of the nebula in our photo. This pulsar was the first one which was also verified in the optical part of the spectrum, when W.J. Cocke, M.J. Disney and D.J. Taylor of Steward Observatory, Tucson, Arizona found it flashing at the same period of 33.085 milliseconds as the radio pulsar with the 90-cm telescope on Kitt peak; this discovery happened on January 15, 1,969 at 9:30 pm local time (January 16, 1,969, 3:30 UT, according to Simon Mitton). This optical pulsar is sometimes also referred to by the supernova's variable star designation, CM Tauri. It has now been established that this pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star: It rotates about 30 times per second! This period is very well investigated because the neutron star emits pulses in virtually every part of the electromagnetic spectrum, from a "hot spot" on its surface. The neutron star is an extremely dense object, denser than an atomic nucleus, concentrating more than one solar mass in a volume of 30 kilometers across. Its rotation is slowly decelerating by magnetic interaction with the nebula; this is now a major energy source which makes the nebula shining; as stated above, this energy source is 100,000 times more energetic than our sun. In the visible light, the pulsar is of 16th apparent magnitude. This means that this very small star is roughly of absolute magnitude +4.5, or about the same luminosity as our sun in the visible part of the spectrum !

This pulsar -- is a rapidly spinning ``neutron star'' that is so dense that a single cubic inch of its material would weigh 6 billion tons -- It is left over from the massive explosion first seen by the Sinagua astronomers over 900 years ago.

The 71,000-acre Agua Fria National Monument; where "Big Deer" is located; is made up of the riparian forest canyons of the Agua Fria River, which is a tributary of the Gila River, and its two adjoining mesas; Perry Mesa, and Black Mesa; with elevations reaching about 4,500 feet.

The monument protects & preserves a group of more than 450 interrelated prehistoric sites and large settlements, including stone pueblos, which date between about 1,250 and 1,450 AD. These pueblos, were inhabited by several thousand people; whom archaeologists refer to as the Perry Mesa Tradition.

Some of the stone pueblos balanced on steep canyon edges contain over 100 rooms. It is thought that the people began to abandon the site in about 1,500. Later on, the Yavapai and Hopi peoples resided there and were later on encountered by the early Spanish explorers.

The Agua Fria National Monument area is sprinkled with petroglyphs, sometimes several hundred, on a single cliff. Evidence of terrace agriculture is also apparent in the area.

Agua Fria National Monument remains rugged, remote, and largely undeveloped. The area is used mainly as rangeland, or for scientific research, recreational hiking, hunting, and primitive camping.

Agua Fria National Monuments high semidesert grassland habitat supports deer; including the Pronghorn, Mule Deer, and White - Tail Deer. Numerous javelinas live in the area as well as a few Black Bears, Elk, Bob Cats, and Mountain Lions; with a wide variety of reptiles and birds; including the Leopard Frog, the Garter Snake, the Desert Tortoise.

Four species of native fish are found in the area, including the Longfin Dace, the Gila Mountain Sucker, the Gila Chub, and the Speckled Dace, along the 129-mile long Agua Fria River and its tributaries.

The Agua Fria National Monument is bordered by areas of the Prescott National Forest on the West and North. Tonto National Forest on the East.

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Other "Big Deer" Pages.

Go To "Big Deer" Page Two.

Go To "Big Deer" Page Three.

Go To "Big Deer" Page Four.

Go To "Big Deer" Page Five.

Go To "Big Deer" - Dr. Hwang's Latest Photos.

Other Ancient Observatories In Arizona.

Circlestone, ( Solstice, Equinox Watch Station )

Hole In The Rock, ( Solstice, Equinox Watch Station )

Casa Malpais, ( Solstice, Equinox Watch Station )

V-Bar-V Ranch Heritage Site, ( Solar Pillar & Notch )

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