Friday, July 17, 2009

Nostradamus 2012: Not fit for the KYBO

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I enjoy many of the shows that air on The Discovery and a History channels. Mythbusters, Doing DaVinci, and MayDay to name a few. But there have been a few specials that weren't so special. "The Crystal Skulls" and "Nostrodamus 2012" are examples of real stinkers.

(Image courtesy

The History Channel recently aired the 2012 piece and it was chock full of the kind of high quality fertilizer best left inside a KYBO (for non-scouts a KYBO is an outhouse). Nostrodamus 2012 claimed catastrophes attributed to the Hopi Indian "Blue Star", Galactic Super waves, and Galactic and Planetary Alignments. Complete hogwash.

I won't even try to debunk all of these because others have done a fine job already. I'd recommend Ian O'Neill's articles on 2012 over at Astroengine as a good place to start. One of his best "2012 Doomsday Fabrication: Abusing Science and Making Money" with its follow the money common sense should foster some critical thinking.

There are two easy ways to debunk the 2012 Planetary Alignment hoax. The idea of this hoax is that all of the planets will line up in a nice line with the Sun and with (or without) a line to the center of the galaxy and something bad will happen. The problem with this so called theory is that they don't and won't line up that way. How do I know this, two ways:

  • Firstly, if all the planets line up with the Sun then Mercury and Venus will be directly between Earth and the Sun. When this happens we can see the planets pass across the face of the Sun as black dots. So if the planets align in 2012 then both Mercury and Venus should transit the Sun as seen from Earth. And while the next transit of Venus is in June 2012, the next transit of Mercury is in 2016. QED - no alignment.

  • Secondly, if you're still doubting, the planets don't align. Not even close. How do I know? Simply by charting the positions of the planets and looking at the result. Below you'll see the inner and outer planets charted using the JPL Orbit Simulator. The date is December 21st, 2012. The planets aren't even close to being aligned. Again, QED - no alignment.
Exhibit A: The inner planets at 1, 1, 5, and 9 o'clock ...

Exhibit B: The outer planets and Pluto at 4, 1, 7, 9, and 10 o'clock ...

In case you're curious the reference to Sedna was because I needed to give the orbit simulator an object that was not a planet. So I picked the farthest one I knew of and zoomed in.

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