A parsec was a unit of distance equal to 3.26 light years. The system used by starship navigators throughout the galaxy to record the location of star systems was based on parsecs, with one unit on the coordinate scale corresponding to 15 parsecs.
Behind the scenes
In the real world, a parsec is a measurement of distance based on apparent stellar motion as observed from Earth. It is defined as 360×60×60/2π astronomical units (AU), which is equivalent to about 19.17 trillion miles, or about 3.262 light-years.
The Star Wars parsec appears to be equivalent to the real-world measurement: The "Decoded" version of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Dooku Captured" says that six parsecs equals about 114 trillion miles, making one parsec about 19 trillion miles. The Essential Atlas says a parsec is 3.26 light-years.
If the Star Wars galaxy is similar in size to ours, roughly 30,000 parsecs across, elementary arithmetic shows that any ship capable of traveling across the galaxy in only a few weeks could travel about a parsec per minute. However, in The Courtship of Princess Leia, it takes more than a week to travel a distance of only seventy parsecs (the stated distance between Dathomir and Coruscant), and in Attack of the Clones, it seems to take many hours to travel the distance between Tatooine and Geonosis, which is stated to be less than a parsec. However, the map Amidala shows Anakin while talking about the distance only seems to zoom about tenfold from the entire galaxy, implying that either the Star Wars galaxy is very small (which seems unlikely, since no night sky seems to show the huge numbers of visible stars that would be consistent with the corresponding smaller interstellar distances), or there is some kind of mistranslation from Basic to English involved. This would also make more sense from a statistical point of view, since the odds of two random planets in the galaxy being within a parsec of each other are about one to a hundred billion.
A New Hope Mess-up?
In Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Han Solo boasted about the speed of his spaceship by claiming it made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, despite a parsec being a unit of distance. (In the novelization, he said, "less than twelve standard timeparts.") Screenwriter George Lucas claimed the seeming gaffe in the film was intentional, showing that Han was something of a bull artist who didn't always know precisely what he was talking about.Within the Expanded Universe, Kevin J. Anderson later retconned an explanation: the Kessel Run is through the Maw. Event horizons around black holes are dependent on the speed at which you are traveling. A standard ship has to do the run in eighteen parsecs because to cut the route any closer, the ship would get sucked in. The Falcon, however, is fast enough to straighten the route and cut over six parsecs off the distance traveled.
The director's commentary on the Blu-Ray Star Wars set explains that hyperspace travel requires heavy computation to compute a path that does not cause you to fly through a star. The Millennium Falcon has customized computation engines that calculate shorter hyperspace paths more quickly than those in other ships. Shorter distances mean faster travel times. The Falcon reduces travel times by a combination of being faster in a traditional sense, and by using more accurate navigation calculations.
- Cracken's Rebel Field Guide
- Wanted by Cracken
- The Jedi Academy Sourcebook
- Endor and the Moddell Sector"—Star Wars Gamer 9 "
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience: Prima Official Game Guide
- The Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
- The Essential Guide to Droids
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: Force Collection (Card: Han Solo (Special))
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 4 (MIL1, Millennium Falcon)
- Rebellion Era Sourcebook
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- Hero's Guide
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
- Scum and Villainy
- The Unknown Regions
- Enter the Unknown
- Suns of Fortune
Notes and reference
- Parsec on Wikipedia