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Alderaan and the Death Star

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by Pobody's Nerfect, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. Pobody's Nerfect

    Pobody's Nerfect Jedi General

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    This is going to get pretty nerdy pretty quick, so if you don't want to do some trig with me, navigate away from this page now.

    You have been warned.

    Did people on Alderaan see the Death Star?

    The scene in which Alderaan is toasted contains two clues. First, let's consider the view window.
    [​IMG]
    I estimated this view window to be 10 meters wide from a scene where Tarkin is standing in front of it for scale, which is about two minutes earlier in the film. I'm also estimating the camera to be about 4 meters away from the view window, determined by the parallel lines on the window casing. I don't think I'm off by more than 30%, so we'll consider that to be our margin of error.

    Alderaan takes up about 1/12 of the 10 meter view window, for an apparent size of .833 meters when viewed from 4 meters away.

    The diameter of the Earth is 12756 km. Assuming Alderaan to be the same size as the Earth, we can scale the apparent size of Alderaan in the view window to calculate the distance between the Death Star and the planet.

    12756 km = 12756000 meters. If an object appears .833 meters wide when viewed from 4 meters away, then it will appear 1 meter wide from 4.8 meters away. We can multiply 12756200 by 4.8 to get our actual distance, 61230 km.

    So the Death Star was a little more than 61,000 km away from Alderaan.

    The question now becomes "can a 100 km object be seen 61,000 km away by the naked eye?"

    Again, we can scale this to more manageable dimensions. 100/61000 = .00164. That's the equivalent of being able to see a baseball in the end zone of a football field, if you're standing at the 50 yard line.

    Most of us could probably see it.

    Now on to the second clue!
    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http://data:image/jpeg;base64,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[​IMG]
    Notice how bright Alderann appears compared to the Death Star. Also, notice how little of Alderaan is in the shadows. The Death Star is almost directly between the planet and the star it orbits.

    The question now becomes "can you see a baseball that's the same color as the sky above it if it's high noon and the baseball is just a couple degrees removed from the Sun?"

    Professional outfielders manage to catch baseballs in those conditions, but only because they know the baseball is there. If a sky-colored baseball were to suddenly appear 50 yards above your head, and you had to look almost straight into the Sun to see it, chances are extremely high you wouldn't notice it.

    Just to be fair, let's add in our margin of error. 50 yards minus 30% is 35 yards, and 8.4 cm plus 30% is maybe the size of a softball.

    Would you notice an object the size of a softball from 35 yards away if that object were the same color as the background and the Sun is almost directly in your line of sight when you looked in the object's direction?

    Yeah, me neither.

    It's safe to assume that the average Alderaanian did not know the Death Star was even there.
     
    #1 Pobody's Nerfect, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2015
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  2. Pobody Nerfect's Spawn

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    I made this account just to say.
    1st. I accept your job offer, though it will most likely end with me killing you.
    2nd. I made this account just to say, "My dad is awesome"
     
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  3. Pobody's Nerfect

    Pobody's Nerfect Jedi General

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    Darth Rachel has joined the Cantina? Say hello to the next mathematician, everybody!
     
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    I see you are channeling your inner mathematician this fine morning.:D

    Fascinating stuff!
     
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    Pobody's Spawn has joined the Cantina? Is this the first Child/Parent duo we've had? You guys need a "No, I am your Father." badge.
     
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  6. Cole

    Cole Force Sensitive

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    They probably knew it was there because scanners and sensors and satelites and scopes and spectrometers and stuff though.
    It was all over ANN and everyone went out with their special shades to check out the big boob base coming to orbit they're planet...Then a million voices cried out, and were suddenly silenced.
     
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  7. Darby

    Darby Rebel Official

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    Great stuff! I have one monkey wrench: Is Tarkin looking out a window or at a screen with the target magnified?
     
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  8. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    I would have preferred it this way.
    saw.jpg swak.jpg as.jpg
     
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  9. Pobody's Nerfect

    Pobody's Nerfect Jedi General

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    Excellent question!

    I considered that possibility, but concluded that it is not a magnified image. First, Alderaan moves from right to left in the window during the scene. If this image was from a targeting camera then Alderaan would appear centered, and the stars behind it would appear to be moving instead. Second, television screens are not usually recessed, but windows usually are. Third, there are no indications that this is a projection. If this was Tarkin's way of knowing where the Death Star was, you would expect information such as speed, location, direction, time until the destination is reached, etc. to be projected on the screen. It is possible that these were shut off for effect to get Leia to talk. But that leads me to my fourth and final point - if this were a projection, Leia would have suspected a trick. They could have been orbiting Tatooine but projecting an image of Alderaan for Leia. That makes me think it was a window - an unaltered, unmagnified, real time view of her home planet, in the crosshairs of the Death Star.
     
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  10. Cole

    Cole Force Sensitive

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    There's also an exterior shot of the death star with alderaan in the background that seems to jive with the window arguement.
     
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  11. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    It was a hostage situation Leia's adopted home planet was being held as a sacrifice for the information of the rebel base, Tarkin would have destroyed Alderaan anyway had Yavin IV been revealed.
     
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  12. Get In Gear

    Get In Gear Force Sensitive

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    Not that it really changes anything, but it is a screen rather than a window...

    by05screen.jpg
     
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  13. Cole

    Cole Force Sensitive

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    Nice catch.
     
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  14. Shawshank

    Shawshank Rebel General

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    Ahem...

    (It's a poorly funded Sci-fi movie from 1977 sooooooooo.....)

    But yeah, it's possible they saw it....
     
  15. mxrsnbrg

    mxrsnbrg Clone

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    I have another good question about Alderaan. If Alderaan was such a peaceful planet as Leia stated in ANH, then why was it one of the main contributors of the Rebel Alliance... The largest anti-empire militia in the galaxy. Alderaan's government was not as innocent as Lucas would have us all believe. If they weren't supplying the rebels with support, they would have never met their doom on that fateful day Tarkin decided to fire upon them with the death star super-laser.
     
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  16. Get In Gear

    Get In Gear Force Sensitive

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    But Leia denied she was involved with the Rebellion at all. It doesn't matter what the truth was, Leia didn't want her home world destroying (obviously).
    Going by the films alone, we don't know whether Alderaan had any weapons or not - Leia was still going to deny it either way.
    The way I see it, Alderaan was part of a front for the Rebellion, they were heavily involved in the Senate. They were like a respectable facade for the Rebels. They had to play it straight, while they were supporting the Rebellion, they were not the military force behind it...
     
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  17. TheFettMan

    TheFettMan Rebel Official

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    For context, NASA, SETI and several other public-private funded science programs say we(the earth) only view approx 1-2% of the stars-planets out there so, unless Alderaan had some advanced space program or telescopes/space stations then I highly doubt they saw the "dark moon" :confused:

    If they did, I'm sure the Empire had jamming gear or scanners to screw with any commo-DV signals the Alderaan planet might send out. EMP technology, microwave signals etc to distort-disorient the planet surface.
     
  18. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Rebel Official

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    Exactly. The "Lucas Notes" from 1977 had Princess Leia state “Some of the more militant systems started training military forces (for the Rebellion). The more peaceful systems, like [Alderaan], became gatherers of information”.

    Interesting thread. I hadn't noticed that during its approach to Alderaan the Death Star should have equally been brightly lit. Apparently its surface was made from some kind of absorbing material, possibly with stealth characteristics.

    The "Alderaan Shot First" cartoon is priceless!
     
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  19. Pobody's Nerfect

    Pobody's Nerfect Jedi General

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    Even if the citizens of Alderaan had seen it, it's not like anything could be done about it.

    Or could they?

    Discuss.

    (This has been a shameless bump on a thread I wrote years ago that my fragile ego won't let die)
     
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  20. Boushhdisguise

    Boushhdisguise Jedi General

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    It's now canon that the Queen and the Viceroy had been involved with activities against the government for years, since the dawn of the Empire. And playing model citizens as a front.
     
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