“Sauron's Eye”: a dust ring around the star Fomalhaut, 25 light years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. Read the article in New Scientist. The photograph is from the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency.
J.R.R. Tolkien was the greatest author of the twentieth century, in my opinion, and has constructed an English language epic on par with Dante’s Divine Comedy (which is in Italian), Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the works of Shakespeare. Long after Harper Lee is a forgotten footnote in history, Lord of the Rings will still be read and enjoyed by posterity. (And if you don’t know who Harper Lee is, that process has already begun.)
My favorite reference resource on the web for Tolkien is the Encyclopedia of Arda. There are, of course, innumerable others, many of which are excellent. Encyclopedia of Arda has an exhaustive list of links to them.
I have posted to these Tolkien forums under the moniker Alcuin.* If you made it here or know me from the forums, and the Spirit moves you, e-mail me.
Here are some essays I have written on Tolkien.
Not exactly an essay, but an extensive piece of work based upon a thread at Entmoot about what happened in Bree the night Frodo had his "accident" with the Ring.
Please do not plagiarize my work. I would be delighted for you to cite it, quote it, criticize it, and dissect it. Use it! That's why it's posted here! Just don't reprint it and put your name on it. Please treat any use of these essays as you would a magazine article, a chapter in a book, or other scholarly work. Thanks. For citations, please use:
Alcuin, www.Zarkanya.net, “Tolkien Notes”
The family and heirs of J.R.R. Tolkien retain his copyright and legal rights through the Tolkien Estate, and Tolkien Enterprises owns certain other rights. This website is not affiliated with those organizations. It is a scholarly pursuit of the existing corpus of J.R.R. Tolkien. We acknowledge their rights. All reference to published material is what we honestly believe to be fair use for scholarly pursuit. Here is a page of the principal owners of rights to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, as far as I am aware.
* Other folks use the moniker “Alcuin”, too. I have listed the boards on which I actively participate here.