In the minds of some, December 21, 2012 represents impending doom for all mankind. For others, this date merely signifies the end of a calendar cycle established by ancient Mayan astronomer-priests. Investigate the scientific realities behind these ideaswhen 2012: Mayan Prophecies opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science Burke Baker Planetarium May 5.
2012: Mayan Prophecies explores possible causes that led to the decline of Mayan civilization by visiting the once great cities ofUxmal,Chichen Itza,Tikal, andPalenque, where ancient temples-towering above the rainforest-were used as observatories to chart the path of the sun.
Learn how Maya astronomer-priests aligned their temples to honor and observe their sky gods and used these celestial observations to create interlocking, geared calendars that recorded the past, and predicted the future. Find the story of the cosmos, carved on a tablet buried in the tomb of a Maya king and take part in a chilling ceremonial sacrifice designed to strengthen the king and appease the gods.
Hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spanish, the Maya abandoned these cities and their sky gods, returning their temples and their magnificent architecture back to the ever-advancing rainforest-where they lie hidden for almost a millennium.
The planetarium's digital experience combines high resolution full-dome video with computer generated re-creations of temples and pyramids to set the scenes where the story unfolds. The voice of Maya astronomer-priests telling their own stories strengthens the realistic and immersive nature of this unique dome experience. The characters engage the audience, explain the genesis and significance of the December 21, 2012 date, and explore the collapse of this advanced civilization-the true Mayan apocalypse.
Click here to watch the film's trailer.
"It's a provocative movie, documenting the monumental achievements and rapid collapse of a very advanced and successful civilization," said Dr. Carolyn Sumners, vice president of astronomy and physics for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. "Sustainability threatens all great civilizations and the apocalypse of the Maya over a thousand years ago may foreshadow real challenges we face in 2012."
During the month of May, purchase a ticket to 2012: Mayan Prophecies and get ½ off admission to the Museum's permanent exhibit halls, or see the film for a special group rate of $6 during Free Tuesdays beginning May 10.
After the film, explore thousands of years of Native American history in the John P. McGovern Hall of theAmericas. This permanent exhibit celebrates the remarkable diversity and extraordinary accomplishments of the indigenous peoples of theAmericas, as well as the continuity of their rich cultural traditions. See the Museum's magnificent collection of rugs, pottery, bead-work, kachina dolls, pre-Colombian gold, and other objects. Representing more than 50 diverse cultures fromAlaskatoPeru, these superb artifacts are complemented by innovative reconstructed environments and hands-on activities.
For tickets, visit www.hmns.org or call (713) 639-4629.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science-one of the nation's most heavily attended museums-is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham IMAX® Theatre,CockrellButterflyCenter, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at5555 Hermann Park Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.