Friday, March 06, 2009

The Long Count & 2012

Here's some basic information on the Long Count and 2012 that I just put together for an answer at Askville.
The people of Meso-America had a series of elaborate calendars. One of them was the Long Count, which is simply a count of days since what they think was the beginning of the world (~3113 BCE). It's like an odomoter. A Long Count date is a series of 5 numbers--today's date is, for instance (March 6, 2009).
Basically that means it has been (12x144,000)+(19x7,200)+(16x360)+(2x20)+(14x1) days since they think the world began. (1,728,000)+(136,800)+(5760)+(40)+(14)=1,870,614 days-- or almost 5125 years.
On 12-21-2012, the Long Count date will be This is in NO WAY the end of the Long Count--it can go up to 19 and then another set of numbers would be added (, but that's thousands of years away).
Although 13 was a sacred number to the Maya, and they celebrated any turning of the Baktuns (we'll be going from Baktun 12 to Baktun 13), they did not believe the world was ending.
Some authors have popularized the concept of a "galactic alignment" on that date, but there is no evidence that the Maya recognized this alignment or knew about it or indeed planned the Long Count so that the first day of Baktun 13 would fall at the time of the alignment.
The alignment itself is nebulous--the winter solstice sunrise coming up in a certain area of the sky. Although it takes 26,000 years for this alignment to happen again, the sky rotates so slow (precession of the equinoxes) that we could have assigned the actual "alignment" to be any winter solstice for the last few (or next few) years. The human eye can't detect precession without instruments.
The theory behind this alignment is that because the Maya thought that area of the Milky Way (where the sun will be that morning) was the birthplace of stars, and the sun (a star) is rising through it, that means the sun is being reborn and a new world age is becoming.

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