Some figure that means the end is near...or if not the end, at least, something big. But then there are those who say its all mumbo jumbo...and this old calendar is nothing but an interesting artifact.
The Maya were obsessed with the sky. Believing the movements of the stars and planets governed life and death on earth.
One authority on ancient astronomy is Ed Krup. He's Director of the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, and acknowledges the accuracy...and mystery of the Mayan calendar.
Ed Krup: "There's no question that one of the great cycles of the traditional ancient Mayan Calendar comes to a completion of its count at that time in 2012.
What's scary to some is the completion of each of these great cycles or suns seems to end in disaster.
Ricardo Duran is a retired California State University Professor, who studies, and lectures on the Mayan Calendar.
Ricardo:"This second sun ended by winds, hurricane. This one, it's hard to make out, but it indicates fire, volcanoes."
The fourth sun, ended with flood, about five thousand years ago, some believe that's in line with the great flood of the Old Testament. The fifth sun ends in less than four years, so how does it end?
Ricardo Duran: "What it says about its last day, which is December 21st on the year 2012. It's called a four movement day. That's the name of the date, and this means a very profound change by movement. It could be a nuclear disaster."
As 2012 draws closer, TV shows, internet sites and books about what could happen in 2012 are everywhere.
One of those books is "2012, The Return of Quetzalcoatl." named for a god of birth and resurrection. Author Daniel Pinchbeck believes whatever happens is going to happen in 2012 is well underway.
Daniel: "I think we all recognize there's this incredible acceleration of events taking place, and that it seems a little bit out of everybody's control at this point.
We can't ask the ancient Maya what they thought would happen when their calendar runs out, but their descendants still follow the calendar. Which is divided into three segments, one to measure the seasons, for hunting and planting. The second to measure human rhythms like birth, and death, and the third...
Felix: This third calendar is called the Ka-Tun. It means, all the days of our lives."
All the days until 2012 anyway.
Felix Rac is a Mayan, from Guatamala.
Like many other Mayans he's settled in Los Angeles, and while preserving his native traditions, he's adapted, and is a deacon in a catholic church.
He understands why the calendar ends.
Felix:" So this long calendar basically is going to end on 2012 and it means the world is going to end. It means an era is going to end. And a new one is going to start."
But other less optimistic theories abound, one suggests the end of the Mayan Calendar coincides with a colossal cosmic event. But Astronomer Ed Krup, believes it's a nebulous claim.
Ed Krup: "There is no plausible connection between that Maya calendar and the astronomical circumstances that have been linked to it. The idea that the solstice is lined up with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and all that, if you look at the real astronomy that's involved there these things don't match up in a way that you can argue effectively at all."
NASA scientists are keeping their eyes on a real cosmic occurrence expected in 2012.
The reversal of the sun's magnetic poles, but these shifts happen every 11 years, like ancient clockwork.
Doomsday predictions like Y2K for example, have been proven false for centuries.
Will December 21st 2012 be any different?
Felix: "But, I'm gonna say this wisely. We know from God the Spirit Protector. That no one knows when the world is going to end only one, and here we are at his house."
Felix: "It has not been revealed to anybody. Not even the Mayans."