Louie Bernstein (astronomer): During the height of their civilization they were one of the few cultures that hadestablished writing, that had art, mathematics and also astronomy.
People are familiar with the Mayans, everyone’s heard of them, but not many people know much about
them. The Mayans were an amazing culture that lived in Mesoamerica from southern Mexico to northern CentralAmerica. Their culture began in around 3000 B.C. and it lasted until the Spanish conquest which ended around1780.The Mayans were one of the few cultures to have an accurate calendar because they were astronomersand they kept track of the cycle of the planets, the sun and the moon. They had several calendars and one of them is called The Long Count Calendar. It lasts 5125 years. On Dec. 20
2012 it’s the last day of the Mayan Long
Count Calendar. The next day, Dec. 21
2012, the Long Count Calendar starts over. People got the impression that
since this long Mayan cycle is coming to an end, so is the world. But in fact it’s like our calendar. We don’t worry
that the world is coming to an end on Dec. 31
each year because there’s a new beginning the following day.
I’ve heard that
the winter solstice, Dec. 21
2012, is going to mean that the Earth aligns with the centre of the Milky Way. In fact, the Earth aligns with the centre of the Milky Way around every winter solstice. Each timethe Earth goes around the Sun on the winter solstice, what happens is the Earth is on one side, the Sun is in themiddle, and the centre of the Milky Way is on the other side,
but it’s not a perfect align. As a matter of fact, the
entire solar system is about 4000 light years above the plane of our galaxy, which means there can never be aperfect alignment.The idea of looking out for doomsday is not only important, it kind of strikes a chord in all of us but I think
also there’s a certain sense of excitement and mystery about it all.
. Discuss the following questions with your partner, your group, or your class.1.
Have you heard of any doomsday prophecies (predictions)? Do you believe them?2.
Have you seen the film ‘
by Roland Emmerich? What kind of film is it? What is it about?3.
What do you know about the Maya people and their civilization?4.
What is the name of our galaxy (as it is seen from the earth)?5.
Can you explain what the winter solstice is?6.
Match the following words with their definitions. Put the correct letter in each box.1 alignment (n) a a set of pages showing the days, weeks, and months of a particular year2 conquest (n) b have all the information that you need about something3 calendar (n) c arrangement in a straight line4 keep track d the act of taking control of a country by force
. Go through the following text quickly and match the questions below with theircorresponding paragraphs. Write the correct number in each box.1.
The Mayan Calendar ends during the winter solstice. What significance does this hold?2.
Who were the Mayans?3.
Why do you think people are fascinated with doomsday predictions?4.
How are the Mayans connected to the 2012 doomsday prediction?