When Star Wars debuted in 1977, it broke records, expectations, and cinematic ground, especially in visual effects. Though the miniatures and explosions are what everyone usually focuses on, many of the more subtle effects were just as powerful. Case-in-point: the unforgettable scene on the alien planet of Tatooine, where a young Luke Skywalker looks pensively into a double-sunset. That stellar shot burned itself into the eyes of pop culture forever, but it would have looked even better with science.
In my latest Because Science, I’m exploring the sunsets truly possible with multiple star systems like the one Tatooine is a part of. Look up at the night sky. Most of the stars you can see are in fact orbiting one, two, even three or more other stars. As a consequence, most of the stars in the night sky have Tatooinian sunsets that would look even better than what Star Wars portrayed because of one simple fact: multiple star systems have multiple stellar eclipses.
Depending on how frequently the stars in a binary star system like Tatooine’s orbited each other, it could be weeks before you saw a sunset that looked like the previous night’s. The stellar eclipses of Tatooine would have been even more visually groundbreaking, because science.
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