Sunday, February 13, 2011

2012: A "Cosmic Alignment'?

We keep hearing from "New Age" folks and many others about an major "cosmic alignment" that is supposed to occur on the date of the Winter Solstice in 2012, on December 21. In the previous post, I described how UFO lawyer and New Age guy Peter Gersten plans to take a "leap of faith" off  huge Bell Rock at precisely 4:11 AM (Mountain Time), the time of the solstice, which he expects will  open up a "cosmic portal" and take him to some other plane of existence, hopefully a better one than this.

I said "from an astronomical standpoint, there is nothing special or even a little bit unusual going on in December of 2012. Nada." Gersten posted a comment disagreeing with that statement, containing a link to one of his web pages, which in turn has a link to "What is the Galactic Alignment" by John Major Jenkins. And he has a point. There is an alignment - however, it has no significance, and it actually occurred in 1998.

To understand what this is about, you will need to visualize the celestial equator, the ecliptic, and the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. It's hard to visualize this, because hardly anyone studies spherical geometry any more (navigators of old knew it solidly). Let's use an earth globe to represent the "celestial sphere," which of course isn't a real object, but it looks like a sphere, and it can be modeled as one.

First visualize the equator. The equator makes a "great circle" around the earth, meaning that its center is the center of the sphere. (Lines of longitude are Great Circles, but parallels of latitude are not.) Then visualize the ecliptic, which is inclined to the equator at an angle of 23.5 degrees. This is the plane of the earth's orbit projected into the sky, and it also a Great Circle. Imagine it stretching on the globe from the Tropic of Cancer in Morocco to the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia. But there is yet a third Great Circle we need to be concerned with: the plane of the Milky Way, which is inclined about 60 degrees to the ecliptic.
The Sun at the "Alignment Time" in 2012: close, but no cigar

Remember that all Great Circles intersect at two points, so it's not a question of if they cross, but where. And the Grand Cosmic Alignment of 2012 is illustrated by the above illustration I made using Skychart (Cartes du Ciel, a free Open Source program that I highly recommend). It shows the Sun at the time of the December Solstice on Dec. 21, 2012 at 11:11:11 UT. The ecliptic is the line that's level, on which the Sun appears to be moving from right to left. The inclined line shows the plane of the Milky Way. There is your alignment.

"But wait," you say, "they're not really aligned." True enough. The actual "alignment," such as it is, occurred in 1998, when the center of the sun aligned as closely as possible with the plane of the galaxy at the time of the solstice. In fact, since the Sun has an apparent diameter of a half-degree, as seen from Earth, "alignments" such as these began in 1980, and will continue until 2016.
John Major Jenkins' illustration of "alignments" in 1998 and 2012
So there you have your "Grand Alignment," which actually occurred in 1998 and was meaningless even then. Why this supposedly has any connection with the 2012 solstice is anyone's guess. 
The Sun "Aligns" (?) with the center of the Galaxy ("X") on Dec. 21, 2012

As for the talk about the Sun "aligning" with the center of the galaxy, well, it never happens. The galaxy's center does not lie on the ecliptic, so the sun never reaches it, although each December Solstice the Sun passes only about six and a half degrees from it. Wow! In fact, as you can see the Sun actually passes closer to the galaxy's center several days before the solstice, as it appears to move eastward along the ecliptic. But is that dramatic? Naah?

So if I were Peter Gersten, I'd wait for a much better "alignment" than this before leaping off a cliff.


  1. Sorry Bob, you still don't have the complete picture:

    And to read my complete story:

  2. I understand the astrological connection between the galactic alignment and 2012. It is similar to aligning a pool cue (1998-2001) before making a shot (2012). From where I sit, Jenkins got it wrong. His 1980-2016 dates are a misinterpretation of the original dates of 1987-2012. It is NOT astronomy. It is an advanced astrological concept ~ not for lawyers, TV personalities or skeptics. * Raymond Mardyks *


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