Anyone worried that the world will come to an end Friday (Dec. 21) can scan the heavens online over the next two days for any signs of death from above.
The online Slooh Space Camera has been broadcasting a series of live cosmic views all week, beginning Monday (Dec. 17). The free webcasts aim to help the public keep watch for any monster solar storms, impending asteroid strikes or other potential agents of the so-called “Mayan apocalypse” that doomsayers claim is set for Friday.
“Rather than merely offer scientists’ dismissals of the many silly doomsday scenarios that have now been heard by almost everyone in the world, and which have reportedly produced panic in Russia, Slooh will take a ‘let’s see for ourselves’ attitude,” Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman, who has been participating in the shows, said in a statement.
“By acting independently of any government agency, which assumedly would be disbelieved by the millions who are convinced a giant cover-up is in place, Slooh will observe the planets and the ecliptic plane for anything out of the ordinary.
But Friday is a date of celestial significance, whether or not you believe in the doomsday scenarios. It’s one of the year’s two solstices, marking the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of summer in the South. (The other solstice occurs in June.)
At the winter solstice, the sun pauses briefly after reaching its most southerly point in the sky. Thereafter, it begins to head northward once again as part of its annual cycle. Indeed, the word “solstice” is derived from the Latin sol (“sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”).
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