John Major Jenkins, the author of COSMOGENESIS 2012, is the first authority to propound the “Galactic Alignment” thesis. He argues that such an alignment will occur on 12/21/09, that the alignment only happens every 26,000 years and that it occurs within a 36-year 1980-2016 alignment “zone.” One of his sources is the astronomer, Jean Meeus. Jenkins has written:
It is an astronomical FACT the position of the December solstice sun will be aligning with the galactic equator in the years around 2012. Specifically, following calculaitons by astronomer Jean Meeus (Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, 1997:216), and considering that the sun itself is one-half of a degree wide, we can speak of an alignment "zone", 1980-2016 AD.
Secondarily, the alignment of the December solstice sun with the Milky Way's equator happens to occur in that part of the Milky Way that houses the "nuclear bulge" of our galaxy's center. Our Milky Way is saucer shaped, and to naked-eye watchers the Milky Way appears wider between Sagittarius and Scorpio. That "nuclear bulge" is, visually, where the galactic center is located. It is where the December solstice sun is aligning. Thus follows the factually true statement about the sun, on the solstice, aligning with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It is more precise, however, to speak of the alignment in terms of the galactic equator, as that affords a precise mid-line of the band of the Milky Way with which the solstice-galaxy alignment can be measured--as Jean Meeus did. Thus, the alignment "zone": 1980-2016 AD.
Jenkins expands further on his alignment thesis:
The Galactic Alignment is the alignment of the December solstice sun with the Galactic equator. This alignment occurs as a result of the precession of the precession of the equinoxes.
Precession is caused by the earth wobbling very slowly on its axis and shifts the position of the equinoxes and solstices one degree every 71.5 years. Because the sun is one-half of a degree wide, it will take the December solstice sun 36 years to precess through the Galactic equator.
The precise alignment of the solstice point (the precise center-point of the body of the sun earth) with the Galactic equator was calculated to occur in 1998 (Jean Meeus, Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, 1997).
Thus, the Galactic Alignment “zone” is 1998+/- 18 years= 1980-2016. This is the “era—2012.”
This Galactic Alignment occurs only once every 26,000 years, and was what the ancient Maya were pointing to with the 2012 end-date of their Long Count calendar.
I’ve seen attempted refutations of Jenkins position on the Internet but was never able to verify the evidence or confirm the writer’s credentials. Since I’m an editor at Tor/Forge Books however and we publish a lot of science-oriented books, I’ve gotten to know some highly reputable astrophysicist-authors over the years—some of them quite distinguished in that field. I’ve questioned a few of them on Jenkins’ thesis, but I’ve never gotten a definitive answer—especially on the second part which states that the alignment only occurs every 26,000 years. Since his thesis has floated around for over a decade, and I haven’t seen a detailed rebuttal, I’ve tended give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt.
Nonetheless, I’ve re-approached one of these distinguished scientist-authors and will report on what I hear. He has to resources to come up with a definitive answer.
Perhaps someone out there has an iron-clad refutation of Jenkins’ thesis, but if they have, I haven’t seen it, which does not mean such a refutation does not exist. It only means I haven’t seen it.
Some scientist may also have proven Jenkins’ thesis to be indisputably correct. I haven’t sent there work either.
Even if astronomers definitively refuted Jenkins’ thesis, however, that refutation would in no way undermine the Mayan’s incomprehensible astronomical achievements. For instance, they understood long, long ago that our galaxy was a spinning disk. They believed it so deeply and pervasively that they imbedded their belief into their very language: Their Hunab Ku galactic glyph which depicts the Milky Way—which they called “The Tree of Life,” among other things—as a spinning disk. They could not have inferred that insight from their math, science or direct observation. That revelation seems to me an accomplishment of a transcendent order. If, on top of that belief, they also divined insights as arcane as Jenkins’ Galactic Alignment thesis, their astronomical knowledge is even more miraculous. On the other hand, were Jenkins’ thesis proven erroneous after all these years, I would in no way hold that against the Mayans. They were preternaturally gifted astronomers.