Don't Panic! The World Won't End Tomorrow

Dec 20, 2012

It may be the end of our calendar year, but for the Mayans', tomorrow is the last day on their calendar...period.

What does the Mayan calendar really say? And what does our interpretation of it say about us?
Credit Rich Renomeron, via Flickr

And many people have interpreted that to mean the world will end.

But Lake Effect astronomy contributor Jean Creighton says this is simply the case of the Mayans getting some "bad press."

"The calendar that they used for special cultural events had very much like an odometer, registers," Creighton says, "and if you maxed out all the registers, which we will on the 21st of December, you go to zero again, so we start a new epoch.

"As far as the Mayans are concerned, that doesn't mean that the end of the world has come. It just means that a whole new era will begin and that just signifies a very special New Year's Eve."

Creighton is the Director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium, located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

She says other end-of-the-world theories stemming from so-called "mysterious" alignments, like that of the sun with the center of the galaxy, are just as incorrectly interpreted.

"I'm thinking that maybe in the back of people's minds, they buy into this idea because they know that something interesting is lurking at the center of our galaxy, and there is, of course, a super massive black hole," she says.

But she assures us, that's nothing to worry about. She plans to be back with us in January for another year of astronomical discussions.