A hole appeared suddenly about three feet from the ground. [Just barely in the nick of time, Thorin was able to fit the key into the hole and open the door.]

The gleam went out, the sun sank, the moon was gone, and evening sprang into the sky.

The reader can see from these instances that the key events of the story of The Hobbit turn closely upon astronomical appearances in the sky. A greater understanding of astronomy can enhance our appreciation of Tolkien’s wonderful story. There is also quite a bit of astronomy in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that’s another story . . .

Author's note: All citations are from the Ballantine paperback edition, 1973.

Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, December 2012. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Jay Ryan is a homeschooling father of five in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information about telling time by the Sun and Moon, check out Jay’s Moonfinder, a storybook for children, and Signs & Seasons, a homeschool astronomy curriculum. Both are available from many homeschool vendors, as well as Christianbook.com and www.ClassicalAstronomy.com.

Publication date: December 7, 2012

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