Did our solar system cross the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in 2012? No. The solar system did not cross the galactic plane on December 21, 2012 – or on any other date in 2012. Sure, our Milky Way galaxy is flat and round, like a pancake. And yes, the sun does weave in and out of the galaxy’s flat plane. However, astronomers have determined that we’re currently moving away from, not toward the galactic plane. By astronomers’ estimates, our solar system last crossed the plane of the Milky Way galaxy some 3 million years ago. We won’t do so again for another 30 million years.
See the video below to visualize where we reside relative to the galactic plane.
This video is from Morehead Planetarium / Science360 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It’s one of a series of excellent videos by Morehead attempting to answer the many wild, crazy, improbable and false doomsday scenarios related to December 2012!
Bottom line Morehead Planetarium / Science360 produced a good video discussing the fact that our solar system will not cross through the plane of our Milky Way galaxy on December 21, 2012. In fact, we won’t pass through the galactic plane again for 30 million years.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.