Space Pictures This Week: Solar Tantrum, Petroglyphs at Night

Photograph by Tony Rowell, Your Shot

This image of Native American petroglyphs, or rock art, shot against the Milky Way, was taken in California's eastern Sierra Nevada on January 14.

Petroglyphs—one of many forms of rock art—are created by scraping, rubbing, or chiseling designs into the patina coating desert rocks. Depending on the conditions surrounding a piece of rock art, these designs can endure for hundreds to thousands of years. (Watch a video about Arizona's rock art.)

Erosion and natural processes, such as plant growth, can fade or destroy the designs. They can also fall victim to vandalism and theft.

According to news reports, one of the most recent incidences was discovered in late October 2012. Unknown perpetrators hacked six petroglyphs out of the cliff face at the Eastern Sierra Volcanic Tableland near Bishop, California (map). They damaged others using saws and hammers.

Published January 22, 2013

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