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How Far Could The Eye of Sauron Actually See?

The Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron, hardly appears in the famous film franchise. Instead, for almost the entire 97-hour run-time–at least that’s what it felt like–Sauron appears as a giant, all-seeing eye able to pierce the hearts of men and hobbits, searching for the one ring to rule them all. All of this is very metaphysical and magical, but what if the eye of Sauron was an actual eye?

In my latest episode of Because Science, I’m joining the fellowship to ask a question that even Stephen Colbert would find nerdy. If the Eye of Sauron atop Barad-dûr wasn’t a manifestation of ill will and was instead a giant eye that sees like ours do, how far could Sauron really see? What would be the extent of his evil gaze? To get an answer, we’ll have to first scale the eye based on props and scene from the films, and then we’ll focus on visual acuity.

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