2012: What the Mayan calendar means

CINCINNATI - We are less than a year away from December 21, 2012, the date of the Winter Solstice in 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar. 

The date has become infamous with doomsday predictions along with movies and websites devoted to the devastation and destruction predicted for the day.   

Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory says, "Forget what you read on websites.  Don't believe movies or the History Channel.  The world will not end on December 21, 2012."


The 13th cycle of the current Mayan calendar is set to end next year and many have placed a great deal of significance on this event. 

Regas has taken an in-depth look at the myths that have emerged about the date of December 21, 2012.  He says that "the basis of this myth goes to an idea that a series in the Mayan Long Count calendar (which lasts 5126 years) may be coming to an end that day". 

However, there is nothing in the Mayan's mythology to back up this belief that there will be great disaster to fall on Earth the day the current calendar ends.  Regas says, "The Long Count is one of many calendar cycles that they observed.  When it ran out, they just started a new cycle". 

The Mayans did not come up with this end of the world theory.  It is our interpretation that has led to this thinking. 

Speculation about this being a doomsday event might have begun when Michael D. Coe in 1966 in The Maya wrote "there is a suggestion ... that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the 13th. Thus ... our present universe be annihilated when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion."

When the Mayans made it to the end of a cycle, they didn't look at is a doomsday event.

"For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," said Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies.

As for the being planets lining up that day, Regas used simulation software to prove that there are no unique astronomical events happening.  "The Earth and Sun will line up with the center of our galaxy that day – but that happens every December 21", he said. 

There is also the theory of a "rogue planet" hitting us in 2012.  He said this is not true.  There is no conspiracy by the government to hide this, not to mention that there are thousands of amateur astronomers that are watching the skies and blogging about what they see. 

Regas did take a look at what the Mayans did with astronomy.  "They had an interesting base-20 counting system (as opposed to our base-10), made incredibly accurate charts for observing the planet Venus and could do okay at predicting eclipses", he said.  He also explored their architecture with Chichen Itza. 

For additional information on the 2012 Mayan calendar, you can check out this video by Dean Regas. 

The Observatory is available for rent on December 21, 2012 if anyone is interested.  Bidding will start at $10,000 and go to the highest bidder.  A free open house will be held on December 22, 2012. 

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