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Winter Solstice

December 21, 2012

One calendar cycle comes to an end today as another begins. This magical moment is the December solstice, when the Sun stands farthest south in the sky for the entire year. It marks the end of autumn and beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere.

You probably know that another calendar cycle is coming to an end today as well — the Maya cycle known as 13 baktun. According to some mystics and authors, Mayan prophecy said the end of that cycle would also mark the end of the world. And over the last couple of decades, an industry has sprung up to support that idea, offering theories about hidden planets and other disasters.

None of it, of course, is supported by the facts. There was no Mayan prophecy of doom. Instead, the end of a baktun was seen as something like the end of a millennium in the modern calendar — a time when the calendar simply resets with a lot of extra zeroes in it.

The Maya were good observational astronomers. They followed the motions of the Moon and the planet Venus, and developed tables that allowed them to predict the appearance of either one in the sky. Certain appearances of these objects were seen as good times to crown kings and launch wars.

But nothing in the Mayan calendar foretold the end of the world. And there’s no deadly planetary alignment, no galactic energy rays, and no killer planet headed our way, either. It’s just a day like many others before it — a day in which one cycle ends and another begins.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2012

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