The graphic below follows up on yesterday’s article Debunking the “2012″ Myth. The question is: how exactly is a supposed alignment of the sun with the core of the Milky Way supposed to cause catastropic destruction in 2012?
Below is a “top view” graphic from the same source.
In this view, the Milky Way’s core subtends an arc of around 20 degrees with respect to the sun. On a bright clear night, those of us lucky enough to get a clear view of this portion of the Milky Way will see its bright “core” region as a bulge of roughly the same angular size.
In calculating the force and direction of gravitational bodies, one could, with a computer, conceivably perform that calculation for each point source involved and sum the vectors of the results. In the Milky Way’s case, this would require calculating attractive forces for each of the billions of stars between us and an imaginary “center” of the galaxy. Happily, it’s easier to determine the common center of mass of multiple celestial bodies (the point around which they actually rotate). Mathematically, it’s the same thing.
In calculating the “pull” of this imaginary point upon the Earth, one wouldn’t, therefore, get to ignore the effect of galactic arms and stellar bodies “behind” us. Nor would one get to ignore the enormously more powerful effects of our own Sun, Moon and local planetary neighbors – as we calculated in the spreadsheet attached to yesterday’s article.
The Milky Way has a diameter of about 120,000 light-years; we are about 26,000 light-years from the center. We’re about 93,000,000 miles from the Sun, or 1 Astronomical Unit (AU). Yahoo calculates there are about 63115.2 AU in a light year. So the center of the Milky Way is about 26,000 times 63,115 = 1,640,990,000 (1.6 billion) times our distance to the Sun.
Recalling Newton’s law from yesterday, gravitational attraction is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.
So enjoy the night skies, and forget about “cosmic conjunctions”!
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