ANTIOCH -- Mark your calendar: Friday will be just another day and the world will still exist when you wake up the next morning.
Doomsday prophets who have been predicting that the world will end on Dec. 21 might be disappointed with a presentation at Antioch's Deer Valley High School on Thursday, when several experts in astronomy, geology and archaeology will debunk the notion while explaining what the Maya people of Mesoamerica really meant with the calendars they carved in stone more than a millennia ago.
Dubbed "The Mayan Nopacalypse," the event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. in Room 511 on the campus at 4700 Lone Tree Way.
The presentation will kick off with a planetarium show in which astronomy teacher Jeff Adkins will explain how planets will be aligned on Dec. 21 and what it means. Friday marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and is also the last day of the Maya calendar.
A video titled "Doomsday 2012 and Cosmophobia" will follow at 4:30 p.m., featuring excerpts of a presentation by Mark Van Stone. The Southern California college instructor earned a doctorate in Maya hieroglyphs and has co-authored a book on the topic as well as one specifically on what science has to say about the Maya prophecy for 2012.
At 5 p.m. there will be a brief talk by Deer Valley High School chemistry teacher Raymond Kuntz, who used to work for Chevron as a geologist and has made a hobby of photographing stars and planets in the night sky.
Next up is Heather Bradford, a one-time substitute teacher in the Antioch Unified School District who will discuss the Maya culture. Bradford now studies human skeletal remains recovered from archaeological sites in the Southwest, Mexico and Central America.
At 6 p.m., astronomer Bryan Mendez of UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory will talk about the Maya's understanding of the celestial bodies and what their calendar actually predicted.
Mendez, who holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, has studied the
flow of galaxies in the nearby universe.
The evening will wrap up at 7 p.m. by peering through telescopes at the planet Jupiter, weather permitting.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.
If you go
What: 'The Mayan Nopacalypse"
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Deer Valley High School, Room 511, 4700 Lone Tree Way, Antioch