William Gadoury has spent a fifth of his life researching the ancient Maya, and the 15-year-old's effort has just paid off in a big way—with the apparent discovery of a lost city. "I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands and in the mountains," the Quebec teen tells the Journal of Montreal. He did, however, know that the Mayans worshipped the stars, so William began comparing constellations to a land map and was "surprised and excited" to find that 117 Mayan cities were mapped out according to the stars, reports Yucatan Living. No one else had ever discovered such a correlation, according to Yucatan Expat Life. Then William noticed that only two Mayan cities lined up to a constellation of three stars, which he believed meant a lost city was hiding in the southern Yucatan Peninsula near Belize.
William informed the Canadian Space Agency, which provided satellite images of the area taken after a forest fire in 2005. They revealed the presence of a 282-foot-tall pyramid, plus 30 other structures. These can "hardly be attributed to natural phenomena," says Dr. Armand LaRocque, an expert in remote sensing at the University of New Brunswick. Based on the images, the city is believed to be one of the five largest in Mayan civilization. William has named it K'àak' Chi' or "Fire Mouth," but hasn't actually seen the site. Scientists haven't gotten a close look, either. "It's always about money. An expedition [is] horribly expensive," says LaRocque. But William looks forward to the day when archaeologists can visit; they've promised to bring him along. "It would be the culmination of my three years of work and the dream of my life," he says. (This lost Mayan city housed a "monster.")