The Astronomical Unit


This page last modified 2006 February 15

The 2012 Winter Solstice Non-event

Click on image thumbnails for larger images. All images generated by Project Pluto's GUIDE v7.
In all images, the ecliptic (the path of the Sun) is the red line.

In his book Fingerprints of the Gods, Graham Hancock, in a chapter entitled A computer for Calculating the End of the World, states (p175) that the Maya civilisation of Central America:

"...believed that the cycle will come to an end, amid global destruction, on [...] 23 December 2012 ..."

This, and similar writings, is possibly one of the triggers for a whole load of ill-considered speculation on the subject. Some people have played with planetarium programs around that date, and noticed that the winter solstice (December 21) Sun of 2012 aligns with part of the Cygnus Rift, a dark part of the Milky Way:

2012 solstice (small)

and have attached some significance to this date as a result.

What these people fail to recognise is that the winter solstice Sun will 'fall into' the Cygnus Rift every year for over a Century:

1955: 1955 small 2100: 2100 small

and (I hesitate to write this, suspecting that it will trigger some related 2030 lunacy) that the winter solstice Sun is more central to the Cygnus Rift in 2030:

2030 small

An alternative bit of related nonsense, e.g. here, states that the winter solstice Sun is in conjunction with the galactic equator in 2012. Not quite. This conjunction has already occurred in 1998 (the blue line is the galactic equator):

1998 small

and precession is now moving the winter solstice Sun further from the galactic equator. The author of this nonsense also seems to find it noteworthy that the Sun is on the ecliptic at this time (!!!), and erroneously gives the time of the solstice as "exactly 11am GMT".

Update: 2004 May 09
I have received a couple of emails from a "John Major Jenkins" who asserts that he is the original source of this 2012 stuff, and who alleges that the author of the immediately preceding nonsense has plagiarised him, albeit inaccurately. Jenkins objects that my comments above reflect badly on him. Jenkins (and anyone else) should be aware that (a) I was commenting on what was actually written on the site to which I referred, not to Jenkins' writings (I do not comment on stuff that I have never read) and (b) objections to alleged plagiarism should be addressed to the alleged plagiariser, not to a third party.

Update: 2006 February 14:
(These comments refer to content in Jenkins's web pages as at 2006 February 13.)
Jenkins, in various pages on his web site, has attempted to refute criticism, from here and elsewhere, of his astrocrud. I am not going to attempt to go into detail with respect to all of his attempted refutations. Some are based on Mayan history which I am incompetent to comment upon; there are so many that they almost qualify as a complex question fallacy and, to quote them all would mean quoting such a high proportion of Jenkins's web site that it would be way beyond what is permitted by Fair Use clauses of copyright legislation (which I prefer to abide by, even if Jenkins -- by quoting, in full and without permission, my private correspondence to him -- evidently does not).