In June of 2015, Eric Hanson of xRez Studio set out to shoot alignments of the summer solstice occurring with known Anasazi ruins in conjunction with researchers from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Known as “Astroarchaeology“, the field studies the relation of built structures to celestial patterns, with many of our graphics techniques well positioned to help visualize and decipher such phenomena. We were invited to join an expedition with accomplished researchers in the field, Professor Emeritus Dr. J. McKim Malville and Dr. Erica Ellingson from University of Colorado, Boulder. CU’s Fiske Planetarium‘s Chris Maytag and Thor Metzinger formed the shooting team, which xRez and partners Bill Hanson and Shaoyu Su joined. Starting with documenting a time lapse of a key alignment of the summer solstice rising sun at Chimney Rock CO, we then traveled to Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico to document a restored native American kiva with stereo panoramas and photogrammetry. Next stop was documenting an alignment and early habitations at Salmon Ruins, followed by arriving at our ultimate destination of the incomparable Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in northern New Mexico. We were quite surprised to discover we had captured a rare occurrence of an auroral event from a 10 year high mass coronal ejection on an overnight 8mm timelapse of Pueblo Bonito designed for fulldome projection. It will be stunning to see in Fiske’s remarkable 8k system. Extensive 3d photogrammetric reconstruction of many of these structures will provide rich CGI lighting studies for evaluating alignments of astronomical patterns. We hope to disseminate much of these results in upcoming VR, fulldome, and possible giant-screen experiences.
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