Some believers in a 2012 doomsday have used the term "galactic alignment" to describe a very different phenomenon proposed by some scientists to explain a pattern in mass extinctions supposedly observed in the fossil record. According to this hypothesis, mass extinctions are not random, but recur every 26 million years. To account for this, it suggests that vertical oscillations made by the Sun as it orbits the galactic center cause it to regularly pass through the galactic plane. When the Sun's orbit takes it outside the galactic plane which bisects the galactic disc, the influence of the galactic tide is weaker. However, when re-entering the galactic disc—as it does every 20–25 million years—it comes under the influence of the far stronger "disc tides", which, according to mathematical models, increase the flux of Oort cloud comets into the inner Solar System by a factor of 4, thus leading to a massive increase in the likelihood of a devastating comet impact. However, this "alignment" takes place over tens of millions of years, and could never be timed to an exact date. Evidence shows that the Sun passed through the plane bisecting the galactic disc only three million years ago and is now moving farther above it.
A third suggested alignment is some sort of planetary conjunction occurring on December 21, 2012. However, there will be no alignment of planets on that date. Multi-planet alignments did occur in both 2000 and 2010, each with no ill result for the Earth. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System; larger than all other planets combined. When Jupiter is near opposition, the Earth experiences less than 1% the gravitational force it feels daily from the Moon.
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