far far away galaxy

It’s May the 4th: Are Star Wars Planets Real?

Look at what we’ve found so far.

Is your favorite Star Wars planet a desert world or an ice planet or a jungle moon?

It’s possible that your favorite planet exists right here in our galaxy. Astronomers have found over 3,400 planets around other stars, called “exoplanets.”

Some of these alien worlds could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.

Find out if your planet exists in a galaxy far, far away or all around you. And May the Fourth be with you!

Planets With Two Suns

From Luke Skywalker’s home world Tatooine, you can stand in the orange glow of a double sunset. The same could said for Kepler-16b, a cold gas giant roughly the size of Saturn, that orbits two stars. Kepler-16b was the Kepler telescopes’s first discovery of a planet in a “circumbinary” orbit (that is, circling both stars, as opposed to just one, in a double star system). 

The best part is that Tatooine aka Kepler-16b was just the first. It has family. A LOT of family. Half the stars in our galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun. If every star has at least one planet, that’s billions of worlds with two suns. Billions! Maybe waiting for life to be found on them.

Desert Worlds

Mars is a cold desert planet in our solar system, and we have plenty of examples of scorching hot planets in our galaxy (like Kepler-10b), which orbits its star in less than a day)! Scientists think that if there are other habitable planets in the galaxy, they’re more likely to be desert planets than ocean worlds. That’s because ocean worlds freeze when they’re too far from their star, or boil off their water if they’re too close, potentially making them unlivable. Perhaps, it’s not so weird that both Luke Skywalker and Rey grew up on planets that look a lot alike.

Ice Planets

An icy super-Earth named OGLE-200-BLG-390Lb reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they nicknamed it “Hoth,” after its frozen temperature of minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit. Another Hoth-like planet was discovered last month; an Earth-mass icy world orbiting its star at the same distance as Earth orbits the sun. But its star is so faint, the surface of OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is probably colder than Pluto.

Forest worlds

Both the forest moon of Endor and Takodana, the home of Han Solo’s favorite cantina in “Force Awakens,” are green like our home planet. But astrobiologists think that plant life on other worlds could be red, black, or even rainbow-colored!

In February 2017, the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered seven Earth-sized planets in the same system, orbiting the tiny red star TRAPPIST-1.

The light from a red star, also known as an M dwarf, is dim and mostly in the infrared spectrum (as opposed to the visible spectrum we see with our sun). And that could mean plants with wildly different colors than what we’re used to seeing on Earth. Or, it could mean animals that see in the near-infrared.

What About Moons?

In Star Wars, Endor, the planet with the cute Ewoks, is actually a habitable moon of a gas giant. Now, we’re looking for life on the moons of our own gas giants. Saturn’s moon Enceladus or Jupiter’s moon Europa are ocean worlds that may well support life. Our Cassini spacecraft has explored the Saturn system and its moons. Watch the video and learn more about the missions’s findings.

And Beyond

The next few years will see the launch of a new generation of spacecraft to search for planets around other stars. TESS and the James Webb Telescope are slated to launch in 2018, and WFIRST in the mid-2020s. That’s one step closer to finding life.

You might want to take our ‘Star Wars: Fact or Fiction?’ quiz. Try it! Based on your score you may obtain the title of Padawan, Jedi Knight, or even Jedi Master! 

You don’t need to visit a galaxy far, far away to find wondrous worlds. Just visit this one … there’s plenty to see.

Discover more about exoplanets here: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

“In A Galaxy Far Away” - Digital Oil Painting

To help celebrate Star Wars Day, a painting of troubled space parents, Han and Leia. I’m very happy with how all the textures turned out and of course I had to add in a glittery nebula in the background, it’s what Space Mom would have wanted - more sparkles! May the Fourth Be With You.

If you enjoy my art, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! I am saving to buy a wheelchair lift and new battery.

Celestial Valentine’s Day Cards

Looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day card? Here are some out-of-this-world options for you:

From our solar system…


To distant galaxies…

And worlds far, far away…

Share your Valentine’s Day love with these celestial cards.

To find even more options, visit:

XO Travel Bureau: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/galleries/exoplanet-travel-bureau/
Mars Valentine’s: http://mars.nasa.gov/free-holiday-ecard/love-valentine/
Space Place Valentine’s: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/valentines/en/
OSIRIS-REx Valentine’s: http://www.asteroidmission.org/galleries/#collectables

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Join me in AU Territory for a few minutes, okay?

a.  So Obi Wan Kenobi basically ends up going, “NOPE. FUCK THIS NOISE.” and decides to raise baby Luke Skywalker himself.

(He’s not a true Jedi anymore; not when he can see all the mistakes he’s made with Anakin in full, excruciating detail.  Not when those closely held values of detachment and denial of emotions have led to fire and death and grief and…

No.  He will not turn.  He might not be a perfect Jedi, but he won’t turn to the Dark Side.)

b.  So he loves Luke with all his heart and baby Luke is basically the teeniest, most adorable ball of sunshine and light and his smiles are a balm on Obi Wan’s broken heart.

c.  Also.  Obi-Wan joins the Rebellion. Because hope doesn’t just lie in Jedi and the Light Side of the Force.   Hope lies in the people who are willing to live and die for their freedom, who are there to resist the Empire and its lies.

d.  Eventually, Obi-Wan finds Rex and Ahsoka and of course, that means baby Luke has more family members who will love him.  Maybe he’s not growing up as royalty the way Leia is, but he is equally treasured and precious to Uncle Rex and Aunt ‘Soka.

(Except Luke calls her Snips - just out of the blue - even though Obi Wan has never told him about this nickname and he doesn’t understand why Aunt ‘Soka suddenly catches him up in her arms and holds him tight tight tight.  He thinks he’s made her sad but Aunt ‘Soka tells him she can be his Aunt Snips and thus, Aunt Snips she became.)

e.  Obi Wan does not want to put the burden of stopping Vader on Luke’s shoulders.  It is monstrously unfair and neither Luke nor Leia should be burdened with the task of repairing their father’s mistakes.  This was Obi-Wan’s failure and it is his job to make it right.

f.  Vader chases after Obi-Wan’s ghost in various Rebel skirmishes - Jedi who mysteriously disappear and escape his finest soldiers,. Imperial shipyards being sabotaged, the best scientists of the Empire making successful defections.  He is always just one step behind, just one moment too late.  Vader’s rage knows no bounds.

(Vader never sees or hears about the child in Obi-Wan’s care.  His heart has already been buried in the royal tombs of Naboo, where Padme Amidala lies in her forever sleep.)

g.  There is a holo of little Luke and little Jyn Erso playing together.  Jyn has not smiled in months as her father and mother have desperately tried to flee the Empire, so that they would not be forced to keep working on its latest monstrosity.  It is Luke who has made her laugh again for the first time as they ran and chased each other.

h.  Luke’s first friend, first crush and his idol is the dashing Cassian Andor.

i.  Obi Wan finds healing and a new outlook/philosophy on the Force when he becomes friends with Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus.  He and Luke make the pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jeddah and while Luke is too young to understand, the ruins of its ancient temple make the child “feel good.”  For Obi-Wan, it is a peace he’s not felt in years. 

j.  Some things are still meant to happen.  Obi-Wan and Vader clash over the years but each duel is inconclusive and both men walk away alive.  It takes years for the Rebel Alliance to gain steam.  Galen Erso still falls into the hands of the Empire.  The pilot Bodhi Rook still defects to the Rebels.  Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor still lead a desperate group to Shariff to retrieve the Death Star plans.

k.  The difference is that Luke Skywalker defies his somewhat overprotective Uncle Ben, having stolen a ship to Shariff to rescue all of his friends.  They barely make it off planet as the Death Star blows up its Imperial base, but Luke’s gotten to be a very good pilot and will spend his downtime happily chatting away with Bodhi Rook.    

l.  Baze spends a few minutes yelling at Chirrut for having the “suicidal tendencies of an Alderaanian lemmingray” before kissing him stupid and it is the first good laugh that Rogue One has, even as they are all safe and sound and alive.

m.  Luke grins even though he knows he’s in deep trouble with Uncle Ben.  There is a transmission from him - Darth Vader is now in hot pursuit of those lost plans and he is chasing after the Tantive IV.  They will all rendezvous with Princess Leia on Tatooine. 

It begins.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…