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Topic: Hobbit in the Sky with Pictures

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: May 28, 2015
Hobbit in the Sky with Pictures

J.R.R. Tolkien was very careful to get his astronomy right after receiving criticism for his moon phases in the first edition of The Hobbit.  So when he wrote Lord of the Rings he consulted an almanac to determine them for his story.  To quote:

The moons and suns are worked out according to what they were in this part of the world [i.e. England or thereabouts] in 1942 actually....

By comparing what was written in the books with the moon phases from that year we can determine which dates are which.  First and Second Yule, for instance, are on Christmas Eve and Day,  Mid-year's Day is on our own Midsummer's Day, and so forth.  With this information and some astronomy software we can also see what the sky was supposed to look like.  Here are some examples.

 

The moon was shining in a broad silver crescent. He held up the map and the white light shone through it.

A Short Rest, The Hobbit.

Stellarium 47.

 

He went to the opening and there pale and faint was a thin new moon above the rim of Earth.

On the Doorstep, The Hobbit.

Stellarium 49.

 

Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt.

Three is Company, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Stellarium 43.

 

The Moon, now at the full, rose over the mountains, and cast a pale light in which the shadows of stones were black.

The Ring Goes South, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Stellarium 53.

 

The evening star had risen and was shining with white fire above the western woods.

The Mirror of Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Stellarium 45.

 

He rubbed his eyes, and then he saw that it was the moon rising above the eastern shadows, now almost at the full.

Minas Tirith, The Return of the King.

Stellarium 61.

 

But forget about computer generated images.  I think we might have had enough of that in the last few years.  How about the real thing?  Once every 19 years the moon phases line up with what is written in the books.  And this year we're in luck!  They match The Hobbit in 2015-16. 

The Unexpected Party; April 20th (April 26th S.R.). 

Midsummer's Eve; June 24th (1st Lithe S.R.).  Broad crescent.

Beorn's; July 2nd (July 6th S.R.).   Full Moon (Uh Oh).

Durin's Day; October 14th (October 20th S.R.).  New Moon.

Battle of Five Armies; November 16th (November 23rd S.R.).

Beorn's; December 25th (2nd Yule S.R.).  Full Moon (Not again!).

Leave Rivendell; May 1 (May 8th S.R.).   

 

On February 8th (February 15 S.R.), 2017 you can see Venus as it was during the Mirror of Galadriel scene.

We are in luck again as the moon phases line up for Lord of the Rings in 2017-2018!

 



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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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This is one of the coolest things I've seen! Thank you for putting it together. I can imagine JRRT sitting at his desk writing looking out at the moon. I've never been there, maybe he wrote in a closet, but the image is cool in my head. 

Thanks again!



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Thank you very much. But I warn you. It's the tip of an iceberg.

Make sure you look in the sky on those dates and say to yourself, "This is what Bilbo saw."

And beware of hairy people.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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'Make sure you look in the sky on those dates and say to yourself, "This is what Bilbo saw".'

Sounds good - if the weather cooperates that is (I am afraid this cannot be predicted, even by JtJ; but maybe we will be lucky). Plus, what about the geographical position? But still, an interesting observation.



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Lórellinë

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Also wasn't June 24 a typo? Mid-year's Day is supposed to be as close as possible to summer solstice (June 21 of this year 2015) and midsummer is the day before it (Lithe is called Midsummer); in fact it was a half moon on June 24, would that have been called a 'broad silver crescent'?

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Lórellinë

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"Plus, what about the geographical position?"

The picture of the 'broad silver crescent' was taken from where I suppose that Rivendell was: Warendorf, Germany.
Somewhere around Szczecink, Poland is where the Lonely Mountain once was. Frodo might have seen Menelvagor near where Greenwich is today if it's assumed that Oxford is Hobbiton. Bonn was chosen for Eregion and Stuttgart for the Mirror of Galadriel.

"Also wasn't June 24 a typo? Mid-year's Day is supposed to be as close as possible to summer solstice (June 21 of this year 2015) and midsummer is the day before it (Lithe is called Midsummer); in fact it was a half moon on June 24, would that have been called a 'broad silver crescent'?"

Very observant. However, when Tolkien chose 1942 as the year to base his moon phases on he might have had something else in mind. June 24 is celebrated by many in Europe as Midsummer's Day, even though it doesn't exactly fall on the solstice. No calendar system really could be that exact anyhow. After a few centuries of use it will begin to deviate.

The reason I have June 24 as Midsummer's Eve instead of Midsummer's Day is that it preserves Christmas Eve and Day as 1 and 2 Yule and also because it is Midsummer's Day in leap years. I pretty sure Tolkien was well aware of these things and designed his calendar accordingly.

The moon is a crescent right up until it reaches a first quarter phase, which is instantaneous. At one moment it could be a 'broad silver crescent' and the next a 'narrow gibbous.'

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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"However, when Tolkien chose 1942 as the year to base his moon phases on he might have had something else in mind."
This of course is possible, and I think I actually should have not paraphrased but directly cited what was said in the Appendix D, which is '...Mid-year's Day was intended to correspond as nearly as possible to the summer solstice'. But sure the calendars would always deviate. That there is not a whole number of days in an astronomical year is quite annoying... Anyway what I somehow doubt is that the moon looking like half-moon at first quarter would be described as (broad) crescent even if technically it still is. But that's purely subjective.

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Lórellinë

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Well, Tolkien probably didn't know how to calculate the moon phases when he first wrote "The Hobbit." For example, I know that in the later edition a 'waning moon' was changed to a 'wandering moon.' So the intention may have been different, but if it can still be made to work, if only technically, then I'm fine with that. Sometimes things have to be shoe-horned a bit.

There is no way to have things exactly as written. But I strive for that which will follow as closely as possible the author's meaning without violating any laws of physics and astronomy.



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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Also at Beorn's house there is a mention of a 'high moon' but is it described as 'full moon' anywhere? Perhaps I overlooked it, or is it something deduced? I thought it likely that the full moon would have been explicitly mentioned once it is mentioned at all, but somehow missed it.

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Lórellinë

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It isn't described as anything other than 'high.' However, if it is midnight, the highest kind of moon would be a full one. Not that it says it's midnight. This is nothing more than a presumption on my part. One other reason is that Bilbo escaped from the goblins on a Thursday. If it's the first possible one then it must be a full moon. If it's the week after that then it's right at the third quarter, and for it to be high in the sky it must be very late at night; almost dawn. I measured the distance they must have traveled to get to the goblin's lair (using my own mapping system) in time for it to be the first week and it came out to only 8 miles per day. And, of course, all else being equal, why not? A full moon is most appropriate for a scene in which a lycanthrope is transformed.

This brings to mind your concern about the crescent moon on Midsummer's Eve. If it were a thin crescent the sky would be bright with the twilight. Reading the moon letters by the moonlight would be problematical. A 'broad' crescent would solve this problem. Not only would the moon be much brighter, so too would the sky be much darker. I can imagine Tolkien knew his moon phases well enough for that. My guess is that he described it as broad deliberately. No proof though.

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'One other reason is that Bilbo escaped from the goblins on a Thursday. If it's the first possible one then it must be a full moon.'
This is a bit confusing, because it looks like you mean the full moon was on that first Thursday, but didn't you say the full moon happens when they stay at Beorn's (one is tempted to ask which night exactly, but I realize you mean that very 'high moon'). Also Gandalf says to the dwarves on that Thursday: 'There will be a bit of moon, if it keeps fine...'. Open to interpretation, but I am not sure this sounds like a full or an almost full moon to me, not that it couldn't be.

And what did you mean by 'first' Thursday?They were captured on the night of Monday to Tuesday and clearly it is the Thursday of the same week that Bilbo surprises the dwarves and Gandalf after escaping from the goblins. Bilbo 'was suddenly aware that he had not had a meal since the night before the night before last'. Or, it is the first possible Thursday counting from what time point?

In fact I only paid attention at the moon description because you said, in another topic, 'When reading the four main books I copied down every reference to anything astronomical.' So I thought you literally tied the full (or another exactly described) moon as mentioned in the book(s) to dates you inferred, but I see that the phases are inferred too.

And I wasn't concerned about the broad crescent. If it is described that way, so be it. My concern was about the date, as at least this year (which supposedly has the moon phases just like in The Hobbit) the moon was 'half-moon' on June 24th (your inferred date for Midsummer) and my knowledge of this language is simply not sufficient to tell if it qualifies for a 'broad crescent' or not - while it sure was that kind of crescent on say June 21st.

A very entertaining topic all in all!



-- Edited by Lorelline on Tuesday 21st of July 2015 05:29:30 PM

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Lórellinë

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...And now I don't think that July 2nd is a likely date for their arrival at Beorn's. The time from the departure from Rivendell (June 25th according to your chronology) is simply too short given the description! 'Long days after they had climbed out of the valley and left the Last Homely House miles behind, they were still going up and up and up'. Long days - and I don't think, somehow, that 'long' here means that the days are long around Midsummer - rather, I read it as 'many days'. And the suggested 8 days (from June 25th to July 2nd) include the time with the goblins and the Wargs and the Eagles; too short, says I.

It wouldn't have occurred to me to look for other reconstructions of this chronology but The Annotated Hobbit makes a reference to The Atlas of Middle-earth and there the dwarves and Bilbo and Gandalf come to Beorn's house on July 20th (like, today). Looks more believable, but do we have a moon phase problem then? It is just after the new moon now...

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Lórellinë

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"'One other reason is that Bilbo escaped from the goblins on a Thursday. If it's the first possible one then it must be a full moon.'
This is a bit confusing, because it looks like you mean the full moon was on that first Thursday, but didn't you say the full moon happens when they stay at Beorn's (one is tempted to ask which night exactly, but I realize you mean that very 'high moon')."

Well, it's almost full on that Thursday but should be one on the next night (Friday). A full moon is also instantaneous, so to say there is a full moon could possibly mean that there is almost a full moon. It's subjective.

"And what did you mean by 'first' Thursday?They were captured on the night of Monday to Tuesday and clearly it is the Thursday of the same week that Bilbo surprises the dwarves and Gandalf after escaping from the goblins. Bilbo 'was suddenly aware that he had not had a meal since the night before the night before last'. Or, it is the first possible Thursday counting from what time point?"

July (Afterlithe) 5 in Shire Reckoning is when I assume Bilbo escaped from the Goblins. There would be an almost full moon then. If it were the next week then the moon would be gibbous. And that couldn't work for a couple of reasons. It wouldn't be high enough to be seen through Beorn's smoke-hole until near morning. That wouldn't make sense since Bilbo was just warned not to go out until dawn. However a full moon is very high in the sky at midnight. So even though it they arrived at Beorn's a bit earlier than seems reasonable it must be the case if the moon phases are going to work out right. In any case, traveling 8 miles a day doesn't seem unusual to me. Only going 2 or 3 miles per day does.

If you wish to check out the moon phases and such yourself try this site:

stellarium.org/

It's a free download and the software is awesome.

"In fact I only paid attention at the moon description because you said, in another topic, 'When reading the four main books I copied down every reference to anything astronomical.' So I thought you literally tied the full (or another exactly described) moon as mentioned in the book(s) to dates you inferred, but I see that the phases are inferred too."

Why would you assume that? Just because some phases are inferred, such as the full moon at Beorn's, doesn't mean all of them are.

"And I wasn't concerned about the broad crescent. If it is described that way, so be it."

I was referring to this comment:

"Anyway what I somehow doubt is that the moon looking like half-moon at first quarter would be described as (broad) crescent even if technically it still is. But that's purely subjective."

It probably wouldn't be a thin crescent like we saw in the movie version for reasons described earlier.

"...And now I don't think that July 2nd is a likely date for their arrival at Beorn's. The time from the departure from Rivendell (June 25th according to your chronology) is simply too short given the description! 'Long days after they had climbed out of the valley and left the Last Homely House miles behind, they were still going up and up and up'. Long days - and I don't think, somehow, that 'long' here means that the days are long around Midsummer - rather, I read it as 'many days'. And the suggested 8 days (from June 25th to July 2nd) include the time with the goblins and the Wargs and the Eagles; too short, says I."

Taking 5 days to get to the Goblin Cave from Rivendell is more reasonable, to me, than taking 12. Here's how I work it:

They leave on the morning of Midsummer's Day. That year there was an Overlithe (that's another topic we can go on about). So the morning of the Overlithe is one day of traveling. 2 Lithe is 2 days. July 1 (Sunday) is 3 days. July 2 (Monday) is 4. And the morning of July 3 (Tuesday) is 5. So it's just short of 5 days of hiking.

Rivendell, according to my maps, is right around where Warendorf, Germany is. The Goblin Cave is on Velmerstot.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warendorf
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velmerstot

Now put 'Warendorf' and 'Velmerstot' into this calculator:

www.distancefromto.net/

and we get 41.89 miles. Divided by 5 gives 8.378 miles per day. This is as a crow flies, for sure, and it's not quite 5 days but it isn't going to be much greater than that. Say 10 miles per day. Even Bilbo, short as he is, can handle that.

But if we assume it were the next week after then we'd give them about 12 days to get there. 41.89/12=3.49 miles per day. That's a little slow. Fonstad, in her Atlas of Middle-earth thought it would take them yet another week. Of course she wasn't mapping it the same way I do.

"It wouldn't have occurred to me to look for other reconstructions of this chronology but The Annotated Hobbit makes a reference to The Atlas of Middle-earth and there the dwarves and Bilbo and Gandalf come to Beorn's house on July 20th (like, today). Looks more believable, but do we have a moon phase problem then? It is just after the new moon now..."

I admire Fonstad for her great Atlas and attempt at constructing a chronology of "The Hobbit." But she made one huge error. She didn't take moon phases into account at all. I don't think Bilbo would've seen the moon shining through Beorn's chimney in the middle of the night if it were around the time of a new moon.

So, for all these reasons, I must conclude that the date on which the party arrived at Beorn's must have been Friday, July (Afterlithe) 6. It's pretty cool that there was a full moon then. There was also one when they came back to Beorn's during the Yuletime after the adventure was over. Oh, the fun they must have had!

P.S. Did Beorn have the right to bear arms?






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I see there are in fact day-of-the-week constraints thanks to the calendar, and the choice of (Shire) days for a particular event is limited. But if Fonstad disregards moon phases, I think your chronology takes no proper account of how the duration of things is described. Eight miles would be doable (I think in LOTR the hobbits and Strider covered 20 miles on some day) but here they are crossing the mountains. Four or five days wouldn't be presented as 'long', in my opinion, and the phrase 'The summer is getting on down below' is another illustration (there are many more).

Also at those latitudes (like just to the south from 51° N according to your calculations) it gets dark quite late in the evening (long after sunset - in early July at least) and the dwarves and Bilbo stayed up well after dark, so it may be much later than midnight when Bilbo awoke and there was 'high moon'. From the description even one more week seems not enough ('it was a hard path and a dangerous path, a crooked way and a lonely and a long') but Afterlithe (so-called July although it isn't corresponding to it all that well) 13th looks still like a better fit than 6th. Or the internal consistency might be somewhat imperfect in this story. Also what about 'a bit of moon' when there should be 'plenty of moon' when it is full?

And okay, Overlithe... 'it did not occur in any of the years important to the history of the Great Ring' (Appendix D). Unless the year when the Ring was found wasn't of much importance...

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Lórellinë

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"But if Fonstad disregards moon phases, I think your chronology takes no proper account of how the duration of things is described."

Then you have a simple choice. You can say that it took a week or two longer for the party to get to the Goblin Cave and then have to deal with the moon phases not being right. Or you can assume that they got there within time, however unlikely that seems to you from the description given. My take on it is that it's much easier to rationalize the latter.

"Or the internal consistency might be somewhat imperfect in this story."

This will be the case in just about any story where every single little tiny detail hasn't been worked out. Mistakes will be made. Mistranslations will occur. Things may not be remembered exactly. And sometimes the truth may be bent.

But if we wish to recreate the story as faithfully as possible some contradictions will inevitably arise. The best idea, in my opinion, is to come up with a version that creates the fewest problems. Just pointing out flaws in a theory is not enough to discredit it. The real challenge is to find a better solution.

"And okay, Overlithe... 'it did not occur in any of the years important to the history of the Great Ring' (Appendix D). Unless the year when the Ring was found wasn't of much importance... "

Here is a perfect example. Try finding a way to solve this problem. If the moon phases as described in "The Lord of the Rings" are correct then 'Midsummer's Day' in 2941 would be ten days before the summer solstice. Or we can accept that a waning gibbous moon can be described as a "broad silver crescent" in the evening. If you don't believe me, try checking it out on any year you wish on Stellarium, or any other astronomy software.

This leads to quite a conundrum. What to do? Is there any way to solve this problem?

Sure. Just assume that the chronology was off by a year. If the adventures of Bilbo occurred a year earlier then the moon phases would line up just right, which is good luck since only one in nineteen years could even work. In 2940 there was an Overlithe.

If you can think of a better solution I would most certainly like to hear about it.

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'You can say that it took a week or two longer for the party to get to the Goblin Cave and then have to deal with the moon phases not being right.'

In fact they might have taken even longer, to arrive at Beorn's at the end of (our) July and at a full moon. That is, if we stay within The Hobbit not looking at the story at large. Some blackberries bloom very late indeed and three wild strawberries might indicate the end of strawberry season.

As to changing 2941 to 2940, you have published this idea previously (although your reconstruction of the Hobbit's chronology was different then). The moon phases in the Hobbit and LOTR and the chronology as given just don't fit together. Which is to say, to make the story consistent all across some facts have to be altered and no solution can be found without that. Once we decide to play with the facts of course there can be a number of solutions depending on what we choose to bend.

The alteration you are suggesting is this:
'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."' But in his infamous speech in LOTR Bilbo says: 'I was only fifty-one then', referring to the day of his arrival by barrel at Esgaroth. Of course many other sources point at 2941. Is Bilbo more likely to forget how old he was or to record the moon phase wrong? I personally love the notion of the broad silver crescent and would hate to think it was written down incorrectly but for a hobbit to get confused about his own age is also quite unusual. Or maybe it was a third moon quarter not a first and with Midsummer so ambiguously defined the phases can be borderline consistent with those in LOTR. Just the 'eve' has to be quite late but over midsummer it doesn't even get dark until very late (at higher latitudes).

I have no idea why on the Tolkien's Sketch for the Forest River (with Bilbo riding a barrel) there is a full moon, which wouldn't be consistent with a waxing crescent or half moon at midsummer. Maybe moon phases in the Hobbit are not to be emphasized.

All in all, which fact-bending leads to the best solution will ever remain the matter of opinion. Luckily the chronology in both the Hobbit and the LOTR (especially in the Hobbit where it is so unclear) has little bearing on the characters and event interpretation, quite unlike say the chronology of the Feanor's rebellion where it is very important but unfortunately impossible to reconstruct in sufficient detail (we tried I think hard enough).



-- Edited by Lorelline on Sunday 9th of August 2015 02:07:38 AM

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"But in his infamous speech in LOTR Bilbo says: 'I was only fifty-one then', referring to the day of his arrival by barrel at Esgaroth. Of course many other sources point at 2941. Is Bilbo more likely to forget how old he was or to record the moon phase wrong?"

I just had a terrible thought. What if, maybe, just maybe, Bilbo lied about his age. I personally don't know of anyone in all my 115 years who has done that, though.

"Or maybe it was a third moon quarter not a first and with Midsummer so ambiguously defined the phases can be borderline consistent with those in LOTR. Just the 'eve' has to be quite late but over midsummer it doesn't even get dark until very late (at higher latitudes)."

I did some more calculations and reading. If we were to accept that the moon was incorrectly described as a crescent, twice, by Bilbo and it did, in fact, occur in 2941, then what they saw was a waning gibbous moon 79% illuminated at least two hours after sunset. Maybe that could be mistaken for a "broad silver crescent."   See attachment.

Another problem is the timing. Earlier in the third chapter, right before they found the Last Homely House, is this quote:

"Tea-time had long gone by, and it seemed supper-time would soon do the same. There were moths fluttering about, and the light became very dim, for the moon had not risen."

At the start of the next paragraph Gandalf says, "Here it is at last!"

For the moon to not yet have risen after sunset requires a waning moon. The very best I can do if the 2941 date is used is to have a very late third quarter moon come up at 2 AM local time the night (or morning of the next day) of June 8th S.R. That would be 23 days before Midsummer's Eve. That doesn't seem consistent with this quote, although technically it could be.

"They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave."

If it is assumed that they stayed exactly fourteen days then they arrived in Rivendell on June 18th. If we use the 2940 date the Sun would have set shortly after 8 PM and the Moon would have arisen at 1 AM that night.

I think I found some more evidence that the moon was full and not at third quarter on the first night at Beorn's. A few days later they travel to Mirkwood. In Chapter Seven there is this quote:

"That third evening they were so eager to press on, for Beorn had said that they should reach the forest-gate early on the fourth day, that they rode still forward after dusk and into the night beneath the moon."

If the shorter time frame is used then an hour and a half after the sun sets a 81% illuminated moon rises. If, however, we assume they took another week then the moon wouldn't rise until five hours after sunset and it would only be 13% illuminated.

"As to changing 2941 to 2940, you have published this idea previously (although your reconstruction of the Hobbit's chronology was different then)."

Yes, it was, unfortunately. It must be updated. The first one was little more than a copy of Karen Wynn Fonstad's chronology in The Atlas of Middle-earth with a few adjustments. I prefer to follow tradition if all else is equal and hers seems to be the standard.

The first thing that needs changing is the first one. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Gandalf meet Thorin in Bree on the 15th of March, not the 25th?

Instead of using Fonstad's May 29 for the dinner party with the trolls maybe I should just write b. May 30, the 'b.' standing for "on this date or before." This is because on that night Bilbo said, "To think it will soon be June."

Fonstad's date for their arrival at Rivendell, June 4, can't be used for two reasons. For one, it's 27 days before Midsummer's Eve, which doesn't sound like "fourteen days at least." And second, the Moon would be in its second quarter, which doesn't square with "for the moon had not risen."

So here is a partial update up to Midsummer's Day.

Mar 15 Gandalf meets Thorin in Bree.
Apr 25 Tuesday, Gandalf visits Bilbo.
Apr 26 Wednesday, the unexpected party.
Apr 27 Company rides out of Hobbiton.
b. May 30 Company captured by trolls.
b. Jun 18 Company arrives at Rivendell.
1 Lithe Elrond discovers moon-letters.
Midyear Company leaves Rivendell.

Maybe after the Midyear we can just use Fonstad's dates accelerated by two weeks.

Jul 2 Monday, Company captured by goblins.
Jul 5 Thursday, Bilbo finds the ring.
Jul 6 Company arrives at Beorn's.
Jul 8 Company leaves Beorn's.
Jul 11 Gandalf departs with ponies.
Aug 2 The enchanted stream is crossed.
Aug 8 Company leaves path in forest.
Aug 9 Bilbo rescues Dwarves.
Aug 10 Dwarves captured by Elves.

This got me to thinking. What was it that the Elves were having a feast over? Bombur dreamed, "A woodland king was there with a crown of leaves.." Now we know that, "On his head was a crown of berries and red leaves, for the autumn was come again. In the spring he wore a crown of woodland flowers."

So I calculated which day of the year in Imladris Reckoning it would be on August 8 in Shire Reckoning in 2940. It turns out it was the first day of yavie, which may be translated as 'autumn'! Is that what they were celebrating?



-- Edited by James the Just on Wednesday 12th of August 2015 09:58:03 PM

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'What if, maybe, just maybe, Bilbo lied about his age. I personally don't know of anyone in all my 115 years who has done that, though.'

Actually why not... If he also lied about his gender lying about age is all the more likely.


'For the moon to not yet have risen after sunset requires a waning moon. '

I think that there are problems not just of the consistency across stories (The Hobbit and LOTR) but also within The Hobbit alone. The moon should still be waxing, just a few days after Durin's Day, when Smaug attacks Esgaroth; but the moon rises well into the dark hours.


'If it is assumed that they stayed exactly fourteen days then they arrived in Rivendell on June 18th. If we use the 2940 date the Sun would have set shortly after 8 PM and the Moon would have arisen at 1 AM that night.'

I was trying to avoid bringing this up but the time zone setting comes to mind, as it seems very early for the sun to set just after 8 pm around our June 10th at those relatively high latitudes. Shouldn't it be between 9 and 10 pm?


'I think I found some more evidence that the moon was full and not at third quarter on the first night at Beorn's.'

The moon seems to have problems... After their escape from the mountains, when Gandalf urges the company to move immediately as far as possible from the gate, all the description points at the moon rising well after the sunset. "...it was so dark that he (Bilbo) could only just see Thorin's beard wagging beside him"; and then "After what seemed ages they came suddenly to an opening where no trees grew. The moon was up and was shining into the clearing". I am not sure how convincing this is but to me it looks like we are dealing with a waning moon, so it wouldn't then be the full moon at Beorn's.


'The first thing that needs changing is the first one. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Gandalf meet Thorin in Bree on the 15th of March, not the 25th? '

'The Quest of Erebor': "...I met Thorin Oakenshield one day: in the middle of March 2941, I think" (sounds more like 15th to me). Also not in Bree but 'on the edge of Spring not far from Bree '. But yes they 'rested for the night at Bree'.


'Apr 25 Tuesday, Gandalf visits Bilbo.'

Here you must be following 'The Quest of Erebor' and this is also consistent with the Shire calendar; but (as pointed out in The Annotated Hobbit) when Gandalf in the first chapter talks of the map and how it came to him he says, 'And Thrain your father went away on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday' and the unexpected party is happening on Wednesday, which should be April 27th then.


' "On his head was a crown of berries and red leaves, for the autumn was come again. In the spring he wore a crown of woodland flowers."

So I calculated which day of the year in Imladris Reckoning it would be on August 8 in Shire Reckoning in 2940. It turns out it was the first day of yavie, which may be translated as 'autumn'! Is that what they were celebrating?'

It does seem that red leaves as well as berries suitable for a crown are not to appear by August 8 (which is around August 1 our style?). Even for Mirkwood that may be too early. Maybe a whole month too early. Not sure I would agree with your chronology there.


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"I think that there are problems not just of the consistency across stories (The Hobbit and LOTR) but also within The Hobbit alone. The moon should still be waxing, just a few days after Durin's Day, when Smaug attacks Esgaroth; but the moon rises well into the dark hours."

In the original draft, if I remember correctly, the attack of the Dragon was to occur a few days later, not the next day. I think Tolkien wrote a note to the effect that it was a crescent moon. Apparently he forgot to correct it.

"I was trying to avoid bringing this up but the time zone setting comes to mind, as it seems very early for the sun to set just after 8 pm around our June 10th at those relatively high latitudes. Shouldn't it be between 9 and 10 pm?"

Nope. I gave it in local time by adding four minutes for every degree east.

"The moon seems to have problems... After their escape from the mountains, when Gandalf urges the company to move immediately as far as possible from the gate, all the description points at the moon rising well after the sunset. "...it was so dark that he (Bilbo) could only just see Thorin's beard wagging beside him"; and then "After what seemed ages they came suddenly to an opening where no trees grew. The moon was up and was shining into the clearing". I am not sure how convincing this is but to me it looks like we are dealing with a waning moon, so it wouldn't then be the full moon at Beorn's."

It seems plain to me that the reason it was so dark was due to the trees. This is why the moon was mentioned as soon as they got to the clearing. Before then it couldn't be seen.

"Here you must be following 'The Quest of Erebor' and this is also consistent with the Shire calendar; but (as pointed out in The Annotated Hobbit) when Gandalf in the first chapter talks of the map and how it came to him he says, 'And Thrain your father went away on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday' and the unexpected party is happening on Wednesday, which should be April 27th then. "

Here is a conundrum. According to the Shire Calendar in Return of the King, April 21st is a Friday, not Thursday.  Maybe Gandalf meant to say April 20th.  Or maybe it's considered the previous day before dawn.  Perhaps a typo.  If not, then we have to revise Shire Reckoning.


"It does seem that red leaves as well as berries suitable for a crown are not to appear by August 8 (which is around August 1 our style?). Even for Mirkwood that may be too early. Maybe a whole month too early. Not sure I would agree with your chronology there."

 

Here in Minnesota I'm already seeing quite a few red leaves.  I couldn't tell you what it's like in northeast Germany.

 

There's something I'm wondering about.  Is it 100% certain that Midsummer's Day is the same as Midyear's Day?  What if Midsummer's Day is 1 Lithe?  It would solve the problem of Midsummer corresponding with June 25th, instead of the 24th, which is when Midsummer is celebrated in Europe.  Just a thought. 

 



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Take a look at this.



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'In the original draft, if I remember correctly, the attack of the Dragon was to occur a few days later, not the next day. I think Tolkien wrote a note to the effect that it was a crescent moon. Apparently he forgot to correct it.'

The attack of Smaug indeed happens several days after the Durin's Day (not that I said otherwise). Reading The Annotated Hobbit feels like an unfair advantage - here is the note: "The moon should be a crescent: it was only a few nights after the New Moon on Durin's Day". Which is fine (the moon phase is not described in the text anyway) but isn't the late moonrise a problem? The point here is just that if the moon states are not perfect within The Hobbit then it might be hard to expect consistency between The Hobbit and LOTR as well.


'Nope. I gave it in local time by adding four minutes for every degree east.'

What about degrees north - did you account for them and at what time does the sunrise occur then?


'Here in Minnesota I'm already seeing quite a few red leaves. I couldn't tell you what it's like in northeast Germany.'

Well now it is not August 1st to begin with, and although I have little idea about northeast Germany I can tell that in regions way north from that (where I was born and raised), early August is still summer. Of course if we are to consider not our time but a year 4000 and something B.C. then it all gets more complicated.



'There's something I'm wondering about. Is it 100% certain that Midsummer's Day is the same as Midyear's Day?'

The Annotated Hobbit does bring up Appendices A and B to LOTR where the wedding of Arwen and Aragorn is said to occur at Midsummer and on Mid-year's day respectively, which sort of means that it's the same day. In the LOTR glossary Lithe is called Midsummer without specifying which Lithe.



'What if Midsummer's Day is 1 Lithe? It would solve the problem of Midsummer corresponding with June 25th, instead of the 24th, which is when Midsummer is celebrated in Europe. Just a thought. '

Why you are so adamant about Midsummer being June 24, and not closer to the solstice? A personal preference I guess. If Tolkien cared to place his Midsummer on top of St. John's the Baptist's day, why would he say it was corresponding 'as nearly as possible to the summer solstice'?

And moon phases are not the only thing where The Hobbit and LOTR don't fit together.


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"What about degrees north - did you account for them and at what time does the sunrise occur then?"

No, since I calculated the sunrise from that position to begin with. The software gives me time in UT, so if I add four minutes for every degree east I get the local time. I don't adjust for daylight savings, so that might be why sunset seems to occur earlier. Noon and midnight are right about when the sun is highest in the sky or in the 'mid of night.'

" In the LOTR glossary Lithe is called Midsummer without specifying which Lithe."

Very interesting. Hmmmmmmm. Could the whole 3 or 4 days be considered Midsummer? Kind of like 1 and 2 Yule both being part of Yuletide?

"Why you are so adamant about Midsummer being June 24, and not closer to the solstice?"

For similar reasons that I'm adamant that 1 and 2 Yule are December 24 and 25, even though the winter solstice is a few days earlier.

1) The moon phases line up perfectly for 1941-42, which is the year that Tolkien said he based them on.
2) There are no other years within at least a century that can work with the moon phases in Lord of the Rings other than 1941-42.
3) December 25 was the first day of the year throughout most of medieval times in England, just like 2 Yule is the first day of the year in Shire Reckoning.
4) It's the kind of thing you would expect Tolkien to do.

Read this Wikipedia article and then tell me Tolkien wouldn't have tried to make June 24 Midsummer.

Midsummer
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Midsummer (disambiguation).


Midsummer, also known as St John's Day, or Litha,[1] is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. The Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John's Day begins the evening before, known as St John's Eve.
...
In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer's Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer

So what did you think of the map?



-- Edited by James the Just on Thursday 20th of August 2015 11:59:17 PM

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'Could the whole 3 or 4 days be considered Midsummer? Kind of like 1 and 2 Yule both being part of Yuletide?'

I tend to agree that Midsummer is a short separate season of its own (the day length stays very similar for a few days). So maybe Midsummer covers several days but there is only one Mid-year's Day (and when Midsummer is referred to as a single day then they are the same)... And we are left to guess which one it is in our calendar. The wiki article you refer to I saw before when I questioned your Midsummer definition for the first time. Nothing is clearly defined there, 19th to 25th of June is the range. And unlike others I have no idea what exactly Tolkien was thinking (I wish I did).

As to the map, it looks cool but Middle-earth's North is northern part of Europe with its mild climate. Perhaps it was much colder in the past. In general, I don't know. There is no direct correspondence but indeed Hithaeglir was modeled after Tolkien's impression of the Alps. Whether that should mean anything more I am not sure. Those Misty Mountains are pretty old, made by Melkor to hinder Orome's visits to Middle-earth. I know you looked into the ME chronology but whether the timing of creation of Hithaeglir would fit together with the age of the Alps is interesting to know. I know Cuivienen doesn't appear on the Third Age map (it wasn't around anymore) and am wondering where it would have been placed approximately, while it existed. And nice pic of the fire on water, remotely reminiscent of the results of the Smaug's attack.


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I make the Misty Mountains correspond with the sub-alpine range of the Jura Mountains in the south and leading to the Vosges going north.  It's funny, but there is an actual Jurassic Park in the former (the Jurassic period was named after the Jura Mountains).

Cuivienen could be on the east coast of the Black Sea where Jason and the Argonauts went to get the Golden Fleece (see picture of the Rioni River).

 

Also, see the picture of Lake Constance. 



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