Archive for October, 2009

What’s the deal with 2012?

by on Oct.07, 2009, under Astronomy

I don’t troll the Internet because of my vision and I have been asked a few times regarding the year 2012. I wasn’t asked anything specific other than “is anything special happening in the year 2012.” Besides the transit of Venus on June 6, 2012, noting special is happening out of the ordinary in the world of astronomical objects.

Then I receive a November 2009 Sky and Telescope issue in the mail the other day with the lead story being this 2012 thing. So what’s the deal? It seems some people think the world will end. Wow, I am glad I don’t troll the Internet! Now how many times have we heard about the end of the world? The last mass hysteria deal was the Y2K bug which proved to be nothing.

I looked into the claims of this 2012 thing, plus had the article read to me from the Sky and Telescope magazine – great article by the way! The crux of the end of times on December 31, 2012 is what was “translated” from the Mayan calendar. There are two stories in this. One is simple and not so widely talked about – the Mayan calendar ends on December 31, 2012 thus meaning they predicted the end of the time. The other is that the Earth will be in line with the galactic center causing a rouge planet (given the name Nibiru by online yahoos) to crash into is.

The Mayan calendar doesn’t just stop like a small group might think, and the translations infer non-specific alignments in 2012. Since the Mayan calendar is based on cycles of time, called a baktum (which is roughly 144,000 days), every baktum 13 the calendar resets. How they came up with the 2012 deal, at least as I understand it is the calendar reset occurs at the same time as this prediction that seems to occur as well. Since scholars have matched the Mayan calendar to the modern one, they are able to make such predictions. I recall reading something about the same type of prediction also based on Mayan prediction on March 10, 1982 that also did not come to fruition.

I don’t quite understand the baktum thing so you may want to look that up if you are more interested in learning more.

There is no such thing as a galactic alignment or alignment with the galactic center. Even if the Earth had a clear shot to the galactic center nothing will happen anyway because all of the stars within the galaxy interact on each other and not the center of the galaxy. The galaxy just happens to rotate about a central axis.

Planetary alignments, another doomsday tool, are another physically useless effect simply because the planets really do not pull on each other very well. Yes, Jupiter is big, but it’s really good at keeping the inner planets safe from comets and other debris that might pose a threat because these objects are not locked in an orbit like the planets.

So, to sum up: there is no Nibiru, no planetary alignments scheduled (even if they did do anything, one will not occur) so the Earth will be fine on January 1, 2013. Don’t worry, don’t panic, and don’t give away all your stuff!

What will happen in 2012 is the transit of Venus on June 6, 2012. Now this is a big deal because transits of Mercury and Venus are very rare. Not only are they great photo opportunities, but they give the viewer a sense of scale of a planet compared to a star – our Sun. The well equipped amateur can point their spectrometer at Venus and actually get a measurement of what the contents of its atmosphere are by subtracting the Sun’s spectrum. This is the same method the planet searchers use to determine the presence of atmospheres of exoplanets.

Now that is a big deal for 2012!

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