Eclipse 2017

Stacy Nick / KUNC

Amid hikers and bikers along Boulder Creek, artist Mike Papadakis is working on his latest commissioned piece -- a detailed mountainscape.

But next to his canvas, you won’t find any paint or paint brushes. All he needs is a mildly sunny day and a magnifying glass.

But instead of torturing ants or practicing his survival skills with fire starting, the Golden-based artist uses the lens and the sun’s rays to burn a design onto a wooden canvas.

“For years, people that have been painting with magnifying glasses,” Papadakis said. “It’s come to be known online as solar pyrography.”

courtesy of Steve Ruskin

It’s hard to ignore the wave of "eclipse mania" that’s been building up over the last few months, leading up to the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21. Cities and towns in the path of totality – where the sun will be completely hidden by the moon — are enticing potentially massive crowds with their own unique eclipse-focused events. Transportation officials are warning of heavy traffic. Protective viewing glasses are becoming harder to find.

With modern-day traffic jams and overbooked hotels, it’s hard to imagine any parallels between Monday’s event and another eclipse from well over a century ago. But Colorado Springs author and historian Steve Ruskin says they’re there -- if you look hard enough.

Courtesy of University of Colorado-Boulder

As excitement over the Aug. 21 solar eclipse mounts, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder think back to the how another eclipse may have been memorialized -- 1,000 years ago.

In New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, a petroglyph -- or rock carving -- by the early Pueblo people is believed to be their depiction of a total solar eclipse from the year 1097, said CU Boulder professor emeritus J. McKim “Kim” Malville. A solar physicist, Malville also researches archeoastronomy, which looks at how people in the past regarded events in the sky.

The carving, which was discovered in 1992 during a Chaco Canyon field school led by Malville and then-Fort Lewis College professor James Judge, features a circle with curvy lines protruding from it.

Enlighten Yourself On The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Jan 18, 2017
S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol / NASA

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible to most of the continental U.S., Richard Nixon was president and the Beatles had just released ‘Let It Be’ in the U.K. The 2017 total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 follows a long tradition of captivating people’s imaginations that’s been going on for thousands of years.

Oral and written histories tell us of fear and trepidation at the sight of a comet or meteor, while other cultures celebrated the same sight with dancing and feasts. But the disappearance of the sun or the moon -- an eclipse -- was an exceptional event.