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One of the bright stars created by Varda, very roughly 4,500 years before the first rising of the Moon and Sun
Ilmen, highest of the airs above Arda
Created by Varda to provide light for the imminent awakening of the Elves1
Uncertain, but nen- seems to connect the name with 'water'2


About this entry:

  • Updated 10 January 2015
  • This entry is complete


One of the stars of Varda

A star placed in the skies by Varda Elentári. Its identity is uncertain - there are some indications that Tolkien considered it to be the Elvish name of the planet Uranus, but such a faint object seems out of place among the bright stars named with Nénar in The Silmarillion.



In The Silmarillion (3, Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor), we're told how Varda '...made new stars and brighter against the coming of the Firstborn...', and Nénar is listed third among those new bright stars. Taken by itself, this reference would seem to imply that Nénar was one of the brightest stars (or possibly planets) in the sky.

In his Index to volume 10 to The History of Middle-earth, however, Christopher Tolkien presents notes that seem to unambiguously associate several of Varda's new stars with planets of the Solar System. In this scheme Nénar was originally 'N' (Neptune) but this was cancelled in favour of Luinil. This left the planet Nénar unidentified, a fact which suggests a connection with Uranus (the only remaining unidentified planet in this scheme).

An obvious problem with this is that, even allowing the convention that lists Uranus as a star, it is by no means bright; indeed, under most conditions it is invisible without the aid of a telescope. To speculate, this perhaps implies that Tolkien originally envisioned Nénar as a bright star, then later co-opted the term when he wished to associate names with the planets.


As described in note 1 above, Nénar was at one point associated with the planet Neptune, named for the Roman sea-god. Christopher Tolkien suggests a potential connection here with the Elvish stem nen-, 'water' (indeed we could interpret the entire name as 'water king'), though it's far from clear whether this connection was intended by Tolkien himself.

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