Galactic Alignment 2012: End Of Days?

There is a lot of buzz going on about the galactic alignment happening on 2012. More precisely, it is supposed to happen on December 21, 2012. So what is the hype all about? And what is a galactic alignment, anyway?

The Galactic Alignment can mean different things, but in this context, it is, in simple terms, the alignment of the sun with the equator. Or, more precisely, the alignment of the December solstice sun with the galactic equator.  The galactic equator is an imaginary line running mid-way down the Milky Way, dividing our galaxy into two hemispheres.

So, why does this alignment happen? Galactic alignment happens because of the precession of the equinoxes. So, what is a precession? It is just the wobbling of earth while it is rotating – imagine a top rotating, it wobbles while it is rotating, doesn’t it? It is the same thing.

This alignment occurs as a result of the precession of the equinoxes. Remember, the earth is rotating and revolving always, revolving around the sun, as shown here:

Earth rotating around the sun

So, usually, earth wobbles and so always is slightly out of place, but twice in every year, equinoxes happen – which is when the tilt of earth’s axis is neither towards or away from the sun. Here is how the earth looks during an equinox:

Earth during equinox

Earth during equinox

In between, twice a year, the “maximum tilt” also occurs, which happens on June 21 and December 21. This is called “soltice”.

So, now you know what a galactic alignment is: it happens when the December (winter) solstice sun will be aligned with the galactic equator, and is supposed to happen on December 21, 2012.

Normally, this will be just an astronomical event of significance, but it is hyped up so much because of the fact that the Mayan calendar (Maya’s “Long Count” calendar) marks the end of 5,126 year old era. So, some people are predicting that this will be the last day, and apocalypse will occur.

The doomsayers are making sure that they have their voice heard. The last time I checked, at least four books were there, talking about galactic alignment. Here is a video about galactic alignment, as a “documentary”:

Sensible people, though, have their say: “For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, who is executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. “To portray this date as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting is a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

So, the bottomline is, there will always be people who cash in on any extraordinary event – let them do so. As far as we are concerned, 2012 December 21 will be four days before Christmas, and 10 days before the new year. One should be more worried about their Christmas presents, and new year resolutions at that time, rather than worrying about Galactic alignment!