Saturday, October 12, 2013
Astronomy and Middle Earth
I recently came across the above image and a post about astronomy within J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. It's fascinating how much detail Tolkien included in his works. Astrophysics professor Dr. Kristine Larsen figured out the structure of the Tolkien's solar system, as well as numerous astronomical objects, by looking through all the hints in his books. The figure above illustrates that very nicely (though apparently Nénar and Luinil cannot be Uranus and Neptune given that these are actually very faint; what they are are supposed to represent has yet to be determined).
Many of our constellations are named after Greek mythological figures, the planets in our solar system carry the names of Roman gods, and new dwarf planets and Kuiper belt objects are being named for Polynesian gods. Astronomy and mythology have gone hand in hand for ages so it's nice to see that a modern fantasy mythology was written with plenty of attention to astronomical details.
A very long discussion on Tolkien's astronomy can be read here.