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How the ‘Star Wars’ saga scores on science

Image: Lightsaber
Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) wields a lightsaber with three blazing blades in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Just be careful where you point that thing, Kylo! (Credit: Lucasfilm / Disney)

The “Star Wars” saga isn’t exactly a science textbook, but there’s one fact about the universe that the movies got dazzlingly right: There are more planets out there than you can shake a lightsaber at.

Back in 1977, the movie now known as “Star Wars: A New Hope” put an assortment of alien worlds on display. There was Tatooine, a desert planet with two suns. Alderaan was Princess Leia’s home planet and the epicenter for a “disturbance in the Force.” Rebels took refuge on a moon in orbit around the gas giant Yavin.

In those days, the idea that there could be so many livable worlds seemed like pure science fiction. “For the most part, scientists thought planets were very rare in the universe,” said Jeanne Cavelos, an astrophysicist-turned-author who literally wrote the book on “The Science of Star Wars.”

Now we know better.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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