Envisioning the Skies of Middle-earth – Astronmy meets Tolkien

by Oct 3, 2004Events

Here’s an excerpt from an article detailing an event in Virginia where an astronomer envisions Tolkien’s skies over Middle-earth:

NEWPORT NEWS —  Attention, all J.R.R. Tolkien fans: The astronomy of Middle-earth is coming to Jefferson Lab at 7 p.m. Monday.

Organizers say pointy ears and furry feet are welcome. But as a security precaution, all magic rings must be left at the door.

Tolkien went to great lengths describing moon phases and constellations of a mystical land called Middle-earth in his books, said Kristine Larsen, a physics and astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University who will speak at Jefferson Lab’s Fall Science Series.

“Tolkien really fleshed out Middle-earth by putting in things that any cosmos would have,” Larsen said.

Director Peter Jackson successfully turned Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy into a movie enterprise, although he edited out many of the astronomical references. Larsen said she’s been a fan of the book trilogy since she was in high school, in the 1970s.

“I would read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ religiously every summer,” she said. “Obviously, with the movies coming out, that reminded me of what I had loved about the books. I still had my notes on the astronomy of Middle-earth from high school. I realized that I could incorporate that into my teaching.”

She submitted a paper about using Tolkien’s works to teach astronomy at this year’s meeting of the American Physical Society in Montreal in March. She also spoke at a Tolkien convention in Germany and will address Tolkien astronomy later this month when the Society for Literature and Science meets in North Carolina.

Monday’s talk at Jefferson Lab is titled “Moon Runes, The Light of Earendil and Durin’s Crown: The Astronomy of Middle-earth:”

Click here to read the entire article.


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