Sunday, January 04, 2009

Galactic Alignment

Much ado is being made in the blogosphere about a recent announcement that the winter solstice will be aligned with the galactic plane in 2012.  I even saw one article claim that this would herald the dawning of the fifth age, or some such nonsense.  However, as Earth and Sky points out, the Earth, as seen from the Sun, crosses the galactic plane twice a year.  And the Sun, as seen from the Earth, does the same thing.  This sort of crossing is no more unordinary than the first day of summer.

Of course, the day on which the Sun crosses the galactic plane (as seen from Earth) changes slowly, because of the precession of the equinoxes.  So what makes 2012 slightly more interesting is that the two days on which the Sun will cross the galactic plane that year happen to align with the two solstices.  This happens only once about every 13,000 years.  That's a pretty uncommon event, and so there is some significance to that, I suppose.  It's an amusing coincidence that the Mayan "long count" calendar "rolls over" near the winter solstice in 2012.  Any Mayans still extant on that date are bound to have a big-ass party (to them, it would be like Y2K on super-steroids), but there's no more cosmic significance to it than that.

So celebrate this unusual alignment if it so pleases you.  But, no, this isn't going to result in humanity "ascending from the 4th dimension to the 5th".  Whatever that means.