Mayan Calendar - Long Count Accuracy in Targeting the Galactic Alignment Configuration

Keith M. Hunter

The Long Count Mayan Calendar Accuracy – A 13 Baktun Countdown

Quite a number of well respected researchers in the field of Maya Studies have attested to the fact that in all likelihood, the Maya of Central America were well aware of the astronomical phenomenon that is precession [1]. And indeed, knowledge of this celestial motion is critical, were one to attempt to forecast a future alignment of the earth at winter solstice, the sun, and the galactic equator of the Milky Way.

Now, as already stated elsewhere, it is the general consensus that the Maya established the Long Count Calendar system sometime in the mid first millennium BC. And also, as per the work of certain theorists not entirely a part of the mainstream, that their express intention in doing so was to synchronise the completion of 13 Baktun periods with the noted future alignment involving the galactic equator. (NB: 1 Baktun = 144000 days. See the Long Count for a complete breakdown of the time cycles as compose the calendar). This theory thus clearly posits a singular purpose for the Long Count Mayan Calendar.

In the work of John M. Jenkins, whom one may regard as perhaps the most prominent individual in support of the ‘galactic alignment theory’, it is often stated that the Maya targeted an era - specifically the present era - when the purported galactic alignment would occur. This would appear to be a subtle way of saying that, whilst of course they strove for accuracy, extreme accuracy would not appear to have been essential to the venture which was their calendar. And thus essentially, sometime circa 500 BC, after conducting numerous observations that may well have stretched back in time many hundreds of years, the Maya fixed the Long Count to deliberately target what they had determined to be the closest earth winter solstice, as would coincide with a future sun-galactic equator crossover.

2012 AD – The Mayan Galactic Alignment Determination

Now indeed, as the era thought to be targeted by the Maya is essentially upon this present generation, one is able to state with exacting authority just how accurately the Maya target end-date of 21 December 2012 synchronises with the actual physical-celestial configuration itself. And even to provide some sort of estimate as to how long the Maya judged the full length of one precessional cycle to be.

It has already happened…

In a clear statement as to the accuracy of the Mayan forecast, modern astronomers of the present age have determined that the noted galactic alignment in question does not in fact occur in the year 2012 AD at all. But rather, that the alignment has in fact already occurred, and did so in the year 1998. One may cite in particular the observations of the famous astronomer Jean Meeus, who determined that the galactic crossover occurred to its optimum level in the month of May of 1998 [2].

In view of this clear observation that the galactic alignment has already happened, one can say then in estimate that the Maya were some 14 years in error over a 2500 year time period in their forecast of the event. An error to this level implies that the Maya would have misjudged the time taken to complete one full precessional cycle by about 2 degrees of angular measure.

Now indeed, this is quite a significant error. It is akin to someone observing the earth orbit for the duration of a few weeks, and based upon the angular sweep of that period as determined, extrapolating to work out the time taken for a complete (tropical) year, and arriving at a value for the length of the year that is about 2 full days in error.

Interestingly, it is a known fact based upon observation that the angular ‘passage’ of precession is certainly not uniform, but is accelerating ever so slightly over time. Moreover, some scientists view the phenomenon of precession to be due to the sun being in a binary system with another star [3], with the sun itself engaged in a slight elliptical orbit about its binary companion. The reality of this implies then that the acceleration of the angular sweep of precession (per year) is governed by an elliptical mathematical function. Given the truth of this, one may thus suggest that the error of the Maya as to the length of a full precessional cycle may be the result of falsely assuming that precessional motion was perfectly uniform, as would be in line with the previously noted Copernican Model of the heavens.

The Long Count – A Non-Rigorous Basic Count

Accepting the singular purpose of the Long Count to synchronise 13 Baktuns with the noted galactic alignment, then based upon the mechanics of the calendar itself in conjunction with the observed non-uniformity of precession, it would appear that the accuracy of the Long Count is far from exceptional. And for such an intended purpose it would seem to be quite unspectacular and rather basic.

Indeed, in view of these noted points, one would have to draw attention to the most notable failure of the calendar system itself per se: the fact that no essential corrections were made over time to maintain the harmony between the completion of 13 Baktuns and the future solstice galactic alignment. Now indeed, one may contrast this with the great calendar reform of the Roman Catholic Church in 1582 to correct the Julian calendar by some 10 days, in order to re-synchronise Easter with the seasons. Scholars who have examined the Long Count have noted that it was tracked quite accurately at least up until the Spanish conquest, after which time it ceased to be in use [4]. One is looking therefore at a continuous period of use of at least about 2000 years; an unbroken count over this time, but apparently with no periodic corrections being made.

One can only conclude therefore that if no actual corrections were made over a full 2000 year period, then in all likelihood, since the establishment of the Long Count circa 500 BC, no further observations of the angular passage of precession were made up until it ceased to be tracked. In essence then, the Maya may have gone through a sort of ‘Dark Age’ in much the same way as with the Old World in terms of their astronomical models/calendar systems, but without any rigorous overhaul.

They established a fixed calendar system in deep antiquity to track a particular celestial event to completion, and then over the passage of time as the event approached ever nearer, for some reason, they never subjected their calendar to any periodic corrections; not since the time of its inception. And for this reason, a sizable error of some 14 years built up over time; the now realised error of the Long Count Mayan calendar with respect to the galactic alignment configuration.

Proceed to Part 8:

The Energetic Significance of the 2012 Galactic Alignment

Ancient World Mysteries Home


[1] One may cite in particular the very well known scholar Gordon Brotherston, author of The Book of the Fourth World.

[2] Meeus, Jean (1997), Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, page 302.

[3] See:

[4] To quote John M Jenkins: “…the fact is that the Long Count tradition was lost shortly after the Conquest. Yes, that's correct, the Mayan people stopped following the Long Count; its katuns and baktuns were forgotten,” taken from his website at the following URL: