Will the World End on 21 December 2012?

Posted by uatemp13 at Dec 20, 2012 11:05 AM |
Completion of Mayan calendar cycle gives rise to expert comment from University of Leicester Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy, Professor Clive Ruggles
Will the World End on 21 December 2012?

Professor Clive Ruggles

It is interesting that the Mayans failed to predict what was effectively the end of their world - so how seriously can end-of-world claims for 21 December 2012 be taken?

According to Clive Ruggles, Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy in our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, 21 December 2012 is not the end of the world. Even the ancient Maya themselves did not think so.

The date does, however, mark the completion of a huge 5,125-year long cycle in the ancient Maya 'Long Count' calendar. Or at least it does if one accepts the correlation between the Long Count and our Gregorian calendar that is favoured by most Mayanists—the correlation is not certain, and the most strongly argued alternative places the end-date on 23 December.

Two astronomical facts have compounded speculation that 21 December 2012 is a cataclysmic date. The first is that the supposed Maya end-date coincides with the solstice. Coincidence it probably is, since there is very little evidence that the solstices were of any great significance to the Maya. The second is that there is a supposedly rare 'galactic alignment', when the path of the sun in the sky crosses the galactic equator. In fact, this alignment occurs annually, slipping very slowly against the solar year, so that by about 70 years' time it will occur each year on 22 December.

You can read the full article by Professor Clive Ruggles on our Leicester Exchanges website here.

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