The Grapevine

How ‘Star Wars’ Got Parsec Wrong

In the trailer for “The Mandalorian,” Disney’s upcoming first live-action Star Wars TV series, we hear a character state that the Mandalorian itself is the “best in the parsec.” A few decades back, the live-action movie "Star Wars: A New Hope," smuggler and scoundrel Han Solo is also famous for saying that his ship, the Millennium Falcon, “made the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.”

While both are cool lines that are probably set to be iconic ones from the franchise, both are unfortunately wrong since the sci-fi epic have had a long history of misusing the word “parsec” ever since it started.

So What Exactly Is A Parsec?

Usually, when a person expresses the vast, astronomical distances between stars, the most common unit of measurement that would be used is “light years,” which is defined as the distance that a ray of light travels in a single year here on Earth. Put in numbers, a single light year is about six trillion miles.

When it comes to measuring distances in astronomical research, however, the term “parsec” is used, which is a blend of the words “parallax” and “arcsecond,” and comes from the use of triangulation to determine the distance of nearby stars.  More specifically, a parsec amounts to about 3.26 light years, or about 19.2 trillion miles.

The Famous Kessel Run

For years, fans have nitpicked what Han Solo meant when he said that famous line from the movie. However, Star Wars’ creator George Lucas then claimed that the line was intentional, and is meant to illustrate how much Han’s character didn’t always know what he was talking about, and this just uses his charm to get away with things.

However, the movie “Solo: A Star Wars Story” showed that Han was indeed able to make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs while piloting the Millennium Falcon.

The problem with the Mandalorian series, however, is that previous Star Wars movies have already established that a parsec is a unit of distance. And so, saying that the bounty hunter is the best in the parsec is similar to saying he’s the best in the light year, which doesn’t make sense.

Nevertheless, the franchise is noted for saying that what they say about the Mandalorians may be true from a certain point of view, so that at least explains it.

millennium-falcon-1343464_960_720 The Milennium Falcon is famous for supposedly doing the kessel run at less than twelve parsecs. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)