Dec. 21: Griffith Observatory to mark 'NOT the end of the world'
If a mysterious planet named Niburu were truly hurtling toward us, Griffith Park wouldn't be a bad place from which to watch it bash the Earth into smithereens.
Alas, the world's end is not at hand. And the observatory is trying mightily to debunk the apocalyptic theories.
The observatory has scheduled a slew of events Friday under the banner: "It's NOT the end of the world" (their emphasis, not ours). For starters, the planetarium show "Time's Up" promises to wade into a stew of world-ending possibilities, including planetary re-alignment, galactic beams, tidal waves and – arguably most fear-inducing to Californians – earthquakes.
The observatory gives a taste of some of its counterarguments on its website. For example, the only way the Niburu-smashes-Earth theory could be true is if "hundreds of thousands of private and public telescopes are linked together in one giant, coordinated effort to mislead the public regarding the existence of this upcoming disaster, though it is not clear why they would do so if the world was going to end anyway."
The observatory folks are apparently confident in their predictions: The building is scheduled to stay open until 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
The observatory is not alone in its quest to snuff out the doomsday hysteria. NASA is fielding up to 300 calls a day wondering whether the sun is going to explode or if the Earth will descend into three days of darkness. So the agency created its own myth-busting Web page, which blames the whole mess on Niburu, the made-up planet initially predicted to collide with Earth in May 2003.
"But when nothing happened," the NASA site says, "the doomsday date was moved forward … and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012."
-- Ashley Powers
Photo: Media interview a cloaked woman in Bugarach, France, after the Mayan prophecy failed to occur Friday. The prophecy said Bugarach would be the only place on Earth saved from the apocalypse. Credit: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images