With Star Wars Day coming up tomorrow, I decided to get a head start on watching the Star Wars series again. I don’t do it every year, but with the house to myself this particular weekend (a very rare occurrence), I thought I would do it. Since I had the time, and didn’t want to FORCE myself to squeeze them all into one day, I got a head start on Friday, May the Second. I watched a little more off and on throughout May the Third, and found myself halfway through The Empire Strikes Back shortly after dinner. At this rate, I will only have one episode left watch (unless I start it tonight yet) on Sunday, May the Fourth (be with you).
As I generally do when re-watching any of my favorites, I started picking them apart in my mind looking for flaws. I am sure there are plenty that I didn’t notice, but there was a great glaring flaw in A New Hope that struck me today. Allow me to set up the particular scene: The Death Star had already destroyed Alderaan, and had just traveled across the galaxy (that is far, far away) to enter the Yavin system. It very, agonizingly, slowly orbited the planet in order to use its primary weapon to destroy the moon where the Rebel base had been built, giving the Rebels plenty of time to destroy the battle station.
The first problem lies in the fact that after coming clear over from the wreckage of Alderaan, presumably using a hyperdrive or similar technology, it didn’t just zip far enough past the planet that it could stop and fire. No, it arrived at exactly the opposite side of the planet and opts to adopt an orbit. It doesn’t go up or down to attack from over one of the poles, and it doesn’t counter-orbit to allow the moon’s own orbit to help span the gap. It finds the absolutely slowest route to reach the moon and creeps up on them.
While grumbling to the screen about that, a voice in the back of my mind brought up an even better point. The Death Star has the ability to destroy a planet, thus revealing the second problem: Why didn’t they just blow up the planet Yavin? Realistically, if the planet was blown into billions of little asteroids, a couple of things would happen to wreck that Rebel moon-base. First is the shockwave from the explosion that would impact the moon, searing the atmosphere and anything on the surface on that side of the moon on the level of many nuclear bombs. This is a pretty conservative guess based on how much of the planet was visible in the sky over Yavin 4. If the base happened to survive that, the extreme weather caused by the superheated atmosphere wouldn’t take very long to become unbreathable. Of course, the chunks of the planet pelting the moon might move faster than the atmospheric changes.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the destruction of the planet would remove the source of gravity that kept the moon in that region of space and replace it with thrust in some undetermined direction. There is the movement around the planet and outward force, spinning the moon uncontrollably into anywhere. It could get knocked into another moon (there were at least 4 of them after all), or farther from the local star where it would freeze, or closer into the star where it would cook. In any case, the faster spin of moon as it was flung away would increase gravity drastically, and no one would have the opportunity to leave if they survived the initial blast. In short, why even target the moon? Worst case scenario is that they target the moon with a second shot if the planet’s destruction doesn’t get rid of the base.
I guess none of this matters though. The ability to destroy a planet is still insignificant next to the power of the Force.