Friday will be an important day for sky watchers and people holding off on their Christmas shopping.
It's the Winter Solstice, the official beginning of winter and the shortest day of the year at nine hours, 54 minutes and 31 seconds.
The website timeanddate.com says the sun will be directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The solstice occurs at 6:12 a.m. Sunrise in Atlanta will be at 7:39 a.m.
The Fernbank Science Center is holding a party from from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday to celebrate the solstice and mark the beginning a new Mayan calendar. The event is free but you need to RSVP to assure a spot. The science center says,
This night will be fun and informative. The Buice Observatory is a great place to view the Winter Solstice sky, weather permitting. Come view the Pleiades cluster, Orion’s nebula, Jupiter, and the moon’s craters, just as the ancient Mayans did as they developed their calendar. And enjoy some hot cocoa, the Mayans’ other great gift to civilization!
Georgia Perimeter College anthropology professor Ernie Guyton says people shouldn't worry much about the Mayan calendar change, which some interpret to mean the end of the world will occur Friday, according to the Champion newspaper. The story says,
While he’s dubious about the long calendar prediction, Guyton noted that the Maya have been spot on with predicting celestial events—including the alignment of planets and constellations in the sky and the cycles of Venus and Mars. “Their solar calendar was more accurate than the European calendar at the time,” he said.
But, he cautioned, “Remember that we’re investing a lot of time and energy into a prediction by a people who thought the world was flat.”
And for those wondering whether to forgo holiday shopping, Guyton has some advice: “I recommend investing in a 2013 calendar.”