9 Apr 2010

Tolkien Among The Stars - Scientists Capture A Stellar Eclipse And Find Middle-Earth

Astronomers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have captures some incredible images of giant star undergoing a two-year eclipse.They described their find as a 'terrifying image, like something from a Tolkien book'.

"It resembles an image from a book by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's like seeing the vessel of the sun, guided by the Maya Arien, being swallowed by the dragon Smaug and plunging Middle Earth in a second-age of darkness. It is a terrifying image."

Arien in J.R.R.Tolkien's legendarium was the Maia who guided the sun. Scientists were able to observe the giant star known as Epsilon Aurigae, which is the one of the brightest star in the constellation Auriga, and is also known as 'the charioteer'. Every 27 years Epsilon Aurigae becomes two to three times dimmer creating a spectacular eclipse lasting almost two years. Tolkien among the brightest stars does feel just right :)

(source: University of St. Andrew)
(Arien Art by Daniel Govar via Tolkien Gateway)
(Epsilon Aurigae images via University of St. Andrew)