Astronomers to talk about the end of the world at 'Apocalypse Now?'

Quite a few people have made claims about the end of the world. But how many made them a few hundred years ago?

The Battle Point Astronomical Association will present "Apocalypse Now?" tackling the topic of Dec. 21; a date some point to as the end of the world as we know it, and others feel fine about it.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Ritchie Observatory in Battle Point Park.

"It's a planetarium show," said Stephen Ruhl, president of the Battle Point Astronomical Association.

"The Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21 of this year. There all sorts of new age folks talking about the end of the world on that date," he added. "We are going to talk about the historical record and what that really means."

The Mayan civilization dominated Central America from 2,000 B.C. to 900 A.D., and even continued to influence the area until Spanish explorers came to the area. It is known for its advancements in astronomy, mathematics, arts and its own written language.

One of the most well known achievements of the Mayans is its calendar; carved on stone, and includes aspects of astronomy. It covers a span of time between August of 3114 B.C. and Dec. 21, 2012. But what happens after Dec. 21?

"All lot of people have said that in conjunction with the end of the Mayan calendar is the foretelling of the end of the world," Ruhl said. "The Mayan calendar is a 5,000 year calendar, and it's very complex."

As the Mayan calendar is fast approaching its final day on Dec. 21 a variety of voices have arisen on the topic. Many say that a new age will dawn for humanity, others say that the world will end altogether, and others believe it's simply the day where the Mayans ran out of space on the carving rock.

Speculation over the end of the Mayan calendar has lead to widespread rumors and fear of a doomsday — so much so that the U.S. government has posted a webpage about the issue on its blog. NASA also put up a webpage tackling Mayan calendar anxiety.

Both assure that the world will go on beyond Dec. 21.

And what do astronomers like Ruhl think?

"Let's put it this way, I'm buying my kids Christmas gifts," Ruhl said.

In the lead-up to the big day, the island's Battle Point Astronomical Association will present "Apocalypse Now?" an astronomical take on the Mayan calendar.

David Fong, an instructor at Olympic College, will discuss some spectacular astronomical events that will line up with the calendar, and Dec. 21.

"Dave is going to be looking at all the implications of this," Ruhl said.

"Dec. 21 is the winter solstice," he added. "And the winter solstice lines up with the constellation Sagittarius, and it's kind of pointing toward the center of the galaxy."

Other events occur, as well, among the stars, all which will be discussed during "Apocalypse Now?"

"It's just a series of historical coincidences that occur on this day," Ruhl said. "If you take enough random events you can line them up. People have been saying the world is going to end for years. Sooner or later they will be right, because the world will end sometime, but it's just another prediction and we are going to go through what it says and debunk it."

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