Exposing PseudoAstronomy

December 18, 2012

Planet X and 2012: The Myth of Completing a Precessional Cycle


I can’t believe I forgot about this claim. Well, maybe I can — it’s fairly minor. But, to try to milk this 2012 stuff for a few more days before Friday, here we go — let’s talk about the (minor) claim that on December 21, 2012, we complete a Full 26,000-Year Precessional Cycle!! (cue spooky music)


Picture a spinning top. Or, if you have one handy, spin a top. If you give it a good, quick spin, it should do pretty well. It’ll spin with its spin axis straight up-and-down, and from one moment to the next, you wouldn’t be able to notice a difference in where that axis is pointed.

But, as time goes on, the top will become unstable and that spin axis will start to wobble. It will trace out a circle in the air. That wobbling is called “precession.”

Just like a top, Earth precesses. From day-to-day, month-to-month, and for practical purposes, from year-to-year, Earth’s North-South spin axis is pointed in the same direction in space, towards the North Star to the north and towards nothing really in the south.

But, if you were to live for several thousand years and track where that spin axis is pointed, you would see it very slowly move. In the time of the ancient Egyptians, the pole star was different. In the time of the last ice age, the pole star was different.

How long does it take to complete one precessional “cycle?” 25,772 years. Or, roughly, 26,000 years.

For the Wikipedia version of this, if I haven’t quite made sense, see this link.

Completing a Cycle

So now the question is, when do we complete one precessional cycle?

The answer is that we complete one cycle 25,772 years from when you started to count.

There is absolutely nothing special about any particular “start” point … it’s a cycle. And it’s a non-descript cycle at that. Meaning that unlike, say, the water cycle where you can choose a starting point (say, water flowing on the planet’s surface) and so then have that be the end point, “completing the cycle,” you cannot point to one “point” in the precessional cycle that makes any better start point.

Yesterday was an end point for the one started 25,772 years +1 day. Tomorrow will be another end point for the one started 25,772 years -1 day. Next year will be another end point for the one started 25,771 years ago. 5,000 years ago was another end point for someone who started to count 30,772 years ago.

But It Ends on December 21, 2012, Right?

Again, no. Unless you chose, as your “start point,” 25,772 years prior to December 21, 2012.

Otherwise, the very concept of a “starting point” or “ending point” is literally meaningless.

Final Thoughts

Now that I’ve written about it, perhaps I know why I haven’t covered it yet: It’s a nonsensical claim. As in, literally, to make it is making nonsense. There is no sense to it — it is meaningless. It’s like taking an empty plate and spinning it and saying that some arbitrary point on that plate was the start point so there’s something special about returning to it.

2.5 more days ’til we start to see back-peddling …


And I wanna get in early on the next Doomsday. I just checked up Alexia’s ranking for the 2012hoax.org site, and it’s ranked among the top 200,000 on the internet. My podcast, on the other hand, is closer to the top 2.5 million. And really, that’s just my domain which includes my coin and photography website that boosts the rankings. Sigh …


  1. Speaking of cycles. I am aware of one cycle that will indeed have its end point on the date in question. That would be the cycle that causes utter chaos and emotional upheaval on a monthly basis in my otherwise happy and fulfilling marriage. That cycle belongs to my wife and I dare not even pretend to consider it to be mere theory!! 🙂

    Comment by Nathen — December 19, 2012 @ 12:18 am | Reply

  2. Nicely explained Stuart! As far as the ranking I bet we will have dropped quite a bit in a month!

    All the best;

    Bill Hudson

    Comment by Bill Hudson — December 19, 2012 @ 7:35 am | Reply

    • Yeah, but you’re big now, and being in on something like that would bode well for my education and public outreach stuff in annual evaluations.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 19, 2012 @ 11:44 am | Reply

      • does it help that I quote you a lot? 🙂

        Comment by Bill Hudson — December 19, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

      • Eh, a bit :). The most hits I get from you is the Links page; second-most is that horrible Institute for Human Continuity. I’m assuming that Sony made you as mad as it made me when it came out with that a few years ago.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — December 19, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

      • drop me a note in email, Stuart. I have some news you might be interested in.

        Comment by Bill Hudson — December 19, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

  3. I’m surprised someone didn’t add that we’d be at the top or bottom of the Solar System’s sine wave dance around the center of the the Milky Way. Didn’t you mention that somebody already said we’d be in alignment with some distant point and the Milky Way center? The fun never stops for some folks, lost as they are in their fantasies…

    Comment by Rick K. — December 19, 2012 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  4. Msg – Mayan Prophecy Centre, Centre of Galaxy to Earth, “Your request to end your world is rejected. You can do it yourself” sd/ competant authorities.

    Comment by sleeping8 — December 23, 2012 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  5. 25,920 years.

    Comment by Dan — January 1, 2013 @ 5:34 am | Reply

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