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Topic: A chronology of The Hobbit

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 4, 2013
A chronology of The Hobbit

While researching for a chronology of The Hobbit I soon realized that it would be astronomically impossible to get the lunar phases to align themselves with what was written in The Lord of the Rings.  It's not even close.  In fact, it's so far off that there's no conceivable way to rationalize it.

Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages tries to solve this problem by supposing that in the past the length of the month was different enough from today's to make it fit but this just isn't the case.  The duration of the synodic month in mean solar days is remarkably constant throughout time. 

But there may be a simple solution to this problem.  If we suppose that the events in The Hobbit occurred one year earlier than supposed then everything works out just fine.  What if Bilbo were to have had his adventure in the year 2940 of the Third Age instead of 2941?  That he was 49 when it began and turned 50 on September 22?  After all, in the book it only says that he was "about fifty years old or so."

Using my previous calculations of when the Third Age occurred

http://tolkienforums.activeboard.com/t42820320/middle-earth-chronology/?page=1

I solved for when the events in The Hobbit happened.  Then using and adjusting the chronology given in Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle-earth I came up with this:

Chronology of the Hobbit

Date        Event

Mar 25    Gandalf meets Thorin in Bree.
Apr 25    Tuesday, Gandalf visits Bilbo.
Apr 26    Wednesday, the unexpected party.
Apr 27    Company rides out of Hobbiton.
May 29    Company captured by trolls.
Jun 4      Company arrives at Rivendell.
1 Lithe    Elrond discovers moon-letters.
Midyear   Company leaves Rivendell.
Jul 16     Monday, Company captured by goblins.
Jul 19     Thursday, Bilbo finds the ring.
Jul 20     Company arrives at Beorn's.
Jul 22     Company leaves Beorn's.
Jul 25     Gandalf departs with ponies.
Aug 16    The enchanted stream is crossed.
Aug 22    Company leaves path in forest.
Aug 23    Bilbo rescues Dwarves.
Aug 24    Dwarves captured by Elves.
Sep 21    Company escapes from Elves.
Sep 22    Company arrives at Lake-town.
Oct 9     Company leaves Lake-town.
Oct 12    Company leaves river.
Oct 14    Company camps in western valley.
Oct 17    Bilbo discovers the hidden path.
Oct 20    Durin's Day, secret door is opened.
Oct 21    Smaug attacks Lake-town.
Oct 22    Gandalf learns of Smaug's death.
Oct 23    Elves leave Mirkwood.
Oct 24    Elves turn towards Lake-town.
Oct 26    Elves reach Lake-town.
Nov 2     Elves and Men pass north end of Long lake.
Nov 5     Elves and men arrive at Dale.
Nov 6     Lonely mountain is besieged.
Nov 12    Bilbo gives away the Arkenstone
Nov 13    The Battle of Five Armies.
Nov 17    Gandalf and Bilbo leave Lonely mountain.
Dec 30    Gandalf and Bilbo arrive at Beorn's.
May 1     Gandalf and Bilbo arrive at Rivendell.
May 8     Gandalf and Bilbo leave Rivendell.
Jun 30    Gandalf and Bilbo arrive at Hobbiton.

Gandalf meets Thorin in Bree on Sunday, March 15 (Gregorian) or April 16 (Julian), 4087 BC.



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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Date: May 6, 2013
I'm diggin the work that you put into this topic!

Impressive!

I can't touch it but don't be surprised if some of our more astute members are breaking it down as we speak.




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Hobbits of The Shire - Rank 1
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Date: May 6, 2013
Wow, this is amazing! This right here is a major part of why I love Tolkien's work. The shear detail that went into his writings that even allows one to create a chronology like this, amazes and fascinates me.

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Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall.  ~Aragorn 

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 6, 2013

Thanks.

"I can't touch it but don't be surprised if some of our more astute members are breaking it down as we speak."

That's what I'm hoping for. There's a lot to criticize. It's pretty heretical to imply that Tolkien got the year wrong, but he did that in the appendices so it's not really dogmatic. Still. I know of one instance where they changed the date for the Mirror of Galadriel scene from February 14th to the 15th in the '95 and later editions to make things consistent with what was in the text.
But I wonder if Lalaith is right about Durin's Day being on the 22nd of October instead of the 20th. The astronomy works out a lot better if it's on the 20th, though. However, I know Lalaith is wrong on this:

"Drawing a function that links all mentioned observations, we find a surprising result: The orbital period of the moon was in the late Third Age of the Sun about 20 minutes shorter than today, being approximately 29.518 days in contrast to the modern value of 29.530879 days. This difference arises because the moon is gradually slowed down by tidal friction (and at the same time, receding from earth). This should allow even to compute the geological period to which the Third Age belomgs."

Actually, the tidal friction slows the earth's rotation and since angular momentum must be conserved the moon is pushed up into a higher orbit where it then moves more slowly.  But these two effects cancel each other out.  Yes, the moon take longer to orbit but the earth takes longer to rotate by a proportional amount.  This makes the length of a month as measured by mean solar days remain mostly the same.

From wikipedia:

Here is a list of the average length of the various astronomical lunar months.[2] These are not constant, so a first-order (linear) approximation of the secular change is provided:

Valid for the epoch J2000.0 (1 January 2000 12:00 TT):
Month type Length in days
anomalistic 27.554549878 - 0.000000010390 × Y
sidereal 27.321661547 + 0.000000001857 × Y
tropical 27.321582241 + 0.000000001506 × Y
draconic 27.212220817 + 0.000000003833 × Y
synodic 29.530588853 + 0.000000002162 × Y

So for the orbital period of the moon to be shorter by 20 minutes the events in The Hobbit must have happened about 5,822,781 years ago!  This cannot be for a number of reasons.  Not only did Tolkien write that it happened "about 6,000 years ago" there is also the problem that the length of the tropical year gets longer the farther one goes into the past.  King's Reckoning supposes a year of 365.242 days; very close to the modern value of 365.2422.  But 5,822,781 years ago it was closer to 365.6366 days.  Way off.  For this reason we can dismiss claims that the events in The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings occured any more than about 10,000 years in the past.  For instance, I've heard some say that they happened during the last inter-glacial about 125,000 years ago.  Not!

The problem with using 2941 T.A. as the year for when the events in The Hobbit occurred is that in order for it to be consistent with LOTR is that there would have been a waning gibbous moon on Midsummer's Eve as opposed to a "broad silver crescent."  Luckily there was just that the previous year.

I've determined this because it is now known from Hammond and Scull's research that Tolkien used the moon phases of 1941/42 for 3018/19 of the Third Age.  The interesting result of this is that it makes 1 and 2 Yule in the Shire calendar (the last and first days of their year) equivalent to Christmas Eve and Day!  I doubt that this is a coincidence because Tolkien was inclined to follow old traditions.  December 25th was considered the first day of the year in the English calendar from the 7th century until 1338.  Then it was changed to begin on March 25th.  Two years after the Fall of Barad-dur New Reckoning was intituted which began its year on March 25th.

 

 



-- Edited by James the Just on Monday 6th of May 2013 06:34:48 PM



-- Edited by James the Just on Monday 6th of May 2013 09:14:39 PM



-- Edited by James the Just on Monday 6th of May 2013 09:29:34 PM

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Date: May 6, 2013

I am not one of those astutue members. I am just here to marvel at your work. Mind blowing.



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: May 7, 2013

I agree!

James the Just ... this is amazing!



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 7, 2013

Thank you all very much.
I started all of this because I wanted to put precise dates on the stories and holidays of Middle-earth. It seems to make them even more real. For example, if 2 Yule is on December 25 and Bilbo was born in 4137 B.C. then we can celebrate his 6,149th birthday on September 16, 2013.
If, as many suppose, the Seventh Age began in 1945, then March 19, 2014 would become March 25, Year 70 of the Seventh Age in Shire Reckoning and the 6,021th anniversary of the Fall of Barad-dur.

Another fun thing to do is if someone has the right software we can see what the sky looked like to Bilbo, etc. when they were doing various things.

http://tolkienforums.activeboard.com/t42820320/middle-earth-chronology/?page=1

Scroll down to where there are beautiful pictures of the night sky put up by John Wain (much thanks), such as where we can see Earendil (Venus) as seen by Galadriel and Frodo during the mirror of Galadriel scene as described in The Fellowship of the Ring.



-- Edited by James the Just on Tuesday 7th of May 2013 06:56:47 PM

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Tom Bombadil
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Impressive, but not into Astronomy myself. Took an Astronomy course in College about 20 years ago, but we never learned in the beginning class anything of what you got here James the Just.
By the way, how did you come up with your name?

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Posts: 107
Date: May 10, 2013
Well, my first names is James...
There's an apostle, who's also called James the Lesser, who goes by that moniker.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: May 10, 2013
Oh I see. And my RL name really is Arwen Legolas

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 10, 2013
Wait a minute. When did Arwen marry Legolas?

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: May 10, 2013
I am Legally Lady Arwen Legolas Wilson.


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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
Status: Offline
Posts: 107
Date: May 12, 2013
Another interesting thing is the days of the week. It is known that the unexpected party arrived on April 26 and that that was a Wednesday. Under the chronology that places the events of The Hobbit in 4087 BC, April 26 in Shire Reckoning would be April 15 in the Gregorian (our modern calendar). In 4087 BC that was also a Wednesday. So the days of the week match up for the first part of the year. Also, Durin's Day was supposed to be on the first day of the week. In Tolkien's, as well in astrology, Saturday is the first day. In the chronology above Durin's Day was on October 20 in Shire Reckoning which would correspond to October 10, 4087 BC in the Gregorian. That was a Saturday, too.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 30, 2013
ArwenLegolas wrote:

I am Legally Lady Arwen Legolas Wilson.


 Shouldn't that be Princess or Queen Arwen?



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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: May 31, 2013

James the Just,

Sometimes ... with her special permission we call her our "Lady Arwen".
Usually she prefers just Arwen ... she is a most valued administrator and member here and very wise in the various languages of Tolkien's world.
The "Lady" can be most helpful in solving all sorts of problems here ...
I think, with your passion for dates chronology, you will find a wonderful allie in any way you would like to expand your knowledge of Tolkien ... as you are expanding our knowledge about the various calendars and chronology of Tolkien's different stories ...

Just throwing it out there ... no offense intended ... as I am very glad to see a person with your passion and skill here!
Hope this helps,

Bear



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Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
Called or uncalled, God is present

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 28, 2014

Here is a picture for every chapter in the book from a tour of the actual places where the events occurred, starting with Gandalf meeting Bilbo in Hobbiton on April 14, 4087 BC.

The Hobbit.

I.

Hobbiton/Oxford.


File:Oxford Skyline Panorama from St Mary's Church - Oct 2006.jpg

II.

Trollshaws/Munsterland.

File:Nordkirchen-Schloss-0093a.jpg

III.

Rivendell/Warendorf.

File:Warendorf StMarien 4585.jpg

IV.

Goblin-Cave/Velmerstot.

File:Velmerstot lip.jpg

V.

Goblin-Gate/Lauenstein.

File:Lauenstein Tor.jpg

VI.

Eagle's Eyrie/Brocken.

File:Brocken Granit.JPG

VII.

Eilumer/Carrock.

H?chster Punkt im Elm: Eilumer Horn am Kuxberg (323,3m ?NN)

VIII.

Mirkwood/Hoher Mechtin.


File:HoherMechtinNE-View.jpg

IX.

Elvenking's Hall/Beech Forest.

File: Glaz Groński Beech Forest in Szczecinem.jpg

http://tinyurl.com/mvctdcr


X.

Forest River/Insko.

File:Bbagno mialka.jpg

XI.

Long Lake/Lake Lubie.

Plik:Lubie lake north bay 2009-08.jpg

http://tinyurl.com/pp9fpmp

XII.

Lonely Mountain/Polczyn Zdroj.

File:Polczyn-zdr.jpg

XIII.

Dale/Drawsko Lake.

File:Drawsko 1.jpg

XIV.

Esgaroth/Dramburg[Lake Constance].


File:Pfahlbauten.jpg

XV.

Iron Hills/Wiezyca, Baltic Uplands.

File:Wiezyca Jezioro Ostrzyckie.jpg

XVI.

Grey Mountains/Bungsberg.

File:Bungsberg 16.jpg

XVII.

Battle of Five Armies/Swidwin.

File:Swidwin2.jpg

XVIII.

Beorn/Magdeburg.


File:Vista Magdeburg.jpg

XIX.
Dol Guldur/Nuremburg.

http://tinyurl.com/m4pzhp3



-- Edited by James the Just on Wednesday 28th of May 2014 11:00:05 PM

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: May 28, 2014

James the Just,

Thank you for all this work!

The images are a nice perspective particularly as I am re-reading "The Hobbit or There and Back Again" this very week. Your image collection adds to the fun.
I am having a little trouble calling some images up ... but the ones I can do create a nice canvas to "mentally paste" the just read chapter.

Your idea of posting images opens some new doors as there is a chapter by chapter book study of "The Lord Of The Rings" going on.

If you click on the Site Navigation tab you will find a thread called "Gallery" which has a nice little image collection of Tolkien characters and themes.

Again, thank you for your work!

Bear

 



-- Edited by Bear on Wednesday 28th of May 2014 10:44:46 PM

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Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
Called or uncalled, God is present

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 28, 2014
Thanks. I think I'll try and come up with some tinyurl.com connections and edit it.

On the other hand, I could send you an email with all the images.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 28, 2014
Okay, I put in some tiny urls. I figure the ones that weren't connecting was because I took them from the Polish Wikipedia.

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Very nice....is there an easy way to see these locations on an overview? Perhaps Wiki has coordinates or something...just wondering..

Nice work by the way

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 30, 2014
Yes, I should've put those in too. It might take some time.

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Date: May 30, 2014
What's a tiny url as opposed to a big url? Cool pics. Thanks!

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 31, 2014
This is a big url for the picture of Dol Guldur.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%9D%D1%8E%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%B1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3.%D0%91%D1%83%D1%80%D0%B3_%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4_%D1%81_%D0%A0%D0%B5%D1%85%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3%D0%B0_2.jpg

This is the tiny url for the same thing.

tinyurl.com/m4pzhp3

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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Wow. I see what you mean.

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