Why Star Wars’ Tatooine Sunset Is Even Cooler with Science! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

– It has to be one of
the most iconic scenes in film history. Luke Skywalker, burdened with
a purpose yet unknown to him, stares with uncertainty at
a beautiful alien sunset. It’s a masterpiece of modern filmmaking, but I’m here to say that it
would even better in real life. Here’s why. (electronic music) Let’s take a moment to
look at this scene again. Ooh, that’s some good sci-fi. This scene is unmistakable, but what I want to show you is that it can be made
even better with science. Specifically, living on a
planet orbiting two suns has some surprises in
store for its inhabitants. Unless you’re an astronomer, I think it’s natural to assume that our solar system set
up is the universal norm, like this perfectly drawn
and circular chart shows, but that’s not the case. In the last few decades,
we’ve learned that most stars that you can see in the night sky are in fact multiple star systems where planets could be orbiting two or even three or more stars. Oh, poor Neptune. Oh, poor Neptune, I forgot you. Oh, I’m so sorry. Don’t worry, no one noticed. Of course, Tatooine is a
planet orbiting two stars. Given the fact that
both of Tatooine’s suns are visible in the night sky and they’re about the same size, we can assume that Tatooine
is a circumbinary planet, or a planet that is orbiting two stars which themselves are orbiting the stars’ combined center of mass. Here’s where science makes
this scene even better. Even though we don’t know how fast Tatooine rotates as a planet and binary stars can
orbit each other every day or every thousands of years, there is one consequence of the cosmos that we don’t see in Star Wars: A stellar eclipse. If Tatooine is a circumbinary planet, then according to the physics alone, it should have sunsets like this, and the next night it can
have a sunset like this. Awesome! Or rather, look at this. (humming Star Wars music) Pretty cool right? This is just the beginning of how cool the Tatooinian sunset you’re looking for could be. I know we all assume that Tatooine has suns
the same size of our star and that Tatooine is tilted in the same way that the Earth is, but the universe is a big place with a lot variations on what’s possible. It’s just as possible that Tattoine’s two suns orbit each other like the Earth and the Moon does, or the Earth and the Sun, with one star much much
larger than the other dictating how they move around each other. Then a Tatooinian sunset
might look like this to Luke. Again, depending on planet
tilts and orbital periods, with stars of different sizes eclipsing each other multiple
times during their orbit, and the beauty of this is it even visualizes some of
the theme’s of Star Wars. David and Goliath, rebel vs empire. But binary stars can also
orbit each other’s barycenter or combined center of
mass for orbiting bodies in an ellipse. Ooh, look at all these
big words we’re using. (laughs) Now imagine seeing this while surveying a
moisture farm’s landscape and thinking about your life. So much cooler. Because we never see a
full day on Tatooine, the sunset really could be in any one of these configurations. We have proof! We have proof. In 2011, the Kepler space telescope discovered a binary star
system named Kepler-16. (light saber) NASA knew it was a binary system and that it had a planet
orbiting around it like Tatooine might because of how the sunlight
dipped from Earth’s perspective. In other words, NASA discovered
a Tatooine like planet looking at the very thing that
makes a Tatooine so special: the eclipses. If you lived on a planet
in the star system like Kepler-16b, which
NASA also discovered, you would see eclipses, two of them involving
two suns every 41 days. No two sunsets would look alike for weeks. This isn’t even happening
in a galaxy far far away, this is happening in our own Milky Way just 200 light years that way. (humming Star Wars music) We’ve known about binary star
systems for hundreds of years, but George Lucas, credit
where credit is due, was the first person to really popularize just how beautiful a sunset in a binary star system would be, and now, 40 years later, we actually have enough evidence to say it would look even cooler,
even more science fictiony than Star Wars predicted, and I think that’s
beautiful in its own way, Because Science. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, where you can suggest
ideas for future episodes, and on Instagram under the same name where I’m now posting
behind the scenes videos and extra rants and stuff. And a special announcement, more because science gear
in the Nerdist store. Go to Nerdist, click on the store, and you can find mugs,
and T shirts, and pins, all with a phrase that’s
fun and sciency to say and makes sense in a lot of contexts and is also this YouTube show. So head over there, sport your nerdery. I’m sure in the movies
they have this worked out, but depending on the orbits of the stars that Tatooine is orbiting around, and how quickly Tatooine spins, the day night cycle on Tatooine might just be straight up trash where you have no
sunlight, or all sunlight, or like two hours of night. You would… I don’t wanna go.


  1. Nerdist said:

    Hey everyone! You can now head over to my Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sci_Phile/) for extra rants and thoughts (and mini-episodes start next week)! This video also starts my run-up to Rogue One. So what's next? Lightsabers duh. — KH

    December 1, 2016
  2. MisterValverde said:

    5:37 Maybe that's why they live underground! 😀

    January 1, 2017
  3. mitch said:

    something can't be even more "science fictiony" based on realistic evidence. That makes it less fictiony.

    January 2, 2017
  4. GeekyGirl said:

    would it work with two moons??

    January 2, 2017
  5. L. Cleveland Major said:

    There an even cooler possibility in which the habitable planet could orbit a small red dwarf star, which in turn orbits a star about the size of the Sun or larger at a great enough distance to not affect the temperature of the planet much but still able to be seen as a disk instead of a point of light.

    There is precedence for this possibility just a bit over 4 light years from the Solar System. Proxima Centauri has a planet that is slightly more massive than Earth orbiting in the habitable zone. Yes the star it orbits is a red dwarf, and yes the other two star in that triple star system are about one third of a light year from Proxima, So those other stars would appear as very bright points of light at that distance, but because of the distance they could be seen during day time on that planet even along with Proxima.

    Since this is a definite thing, it is not a leap of the imagination to think the possibility exists for my initial scenario.

    January 3, 2017
  6. John Mann said:

    Suggestion, do one on the system from Pitch Black, a trinary star system that has total eclipses every 21 years or so that envelop the whole planet in darkness, including a blue star.

    January 4, 2017
  7. Lord Hummus Supreme said:

    no SURPRISE LIGHTSABER!!! I'm disappointed

    January 7, 2017
  8. calinwiz said:

    Where's the surprise lightsabre, Kyle? Where is it?

    January 7, 2017
  9. Zechlin said:

    Science Jesus

    January 11, 2017
  10. Lēoht Steren said:

    It would be interesting to see a similar discussion of the Pitch Black movie's celestial alignments.

    January 12, 2017
  11. ChadwicKed said:

    4:28. lol smh

    January 13, 2017
  12. Lachlan Bird said:

    Ahsoka's lightsaber

    January 14, 2017
  13. sup150 said:

    I live in tunisia, the country where the scenes in tatooine were filmed!

    January 15, 2017
  14. Gracie ofGod said:

    Great video. I showed this to my students as a reward after having them sit through a pretty dry documentary on our galaxy. It was great to see this video spark their enthusiasm for science.

    January 16, 2017
  15. Clint Pichie said:

    how would something as powerfully as a infinite stone get so power full?

    January 21, 2017
  16. Caleb Sutherland said:

    Could Wolverine's claws cut through Luke Cage's skin?

    January 25, 2017
  17. Mark Rivera said:

    life is made better with SURPRISE WAFFLE'S!!!!!

    January 25, 2017
  18. Krakofski _yt said:

    Not two suns, but a sun and a planet

    January 25, 2017
  19. Emma Cat said:

    They should have named the planet in that binary star system "Tatooine"!

    January 30, 2017
  20. Johnmark LaSalle said:

    I love how nerdy he is

    January 31, 2017
  21. Maytee Garpot said:

    i noticed right away

    February 1, 2017
  22. William Ozier said:

    I was a bit surprised that you didn't bring up that under a double sun sky everything would cast two shadows, and they would move independently as the two suns moved in the sky. That would look so cool!

    February 8, 2017
  23. Adam Meade said:


    February 11, 2017
  24. TF8ase said:

    Having a crap day night cycle for human habitation might contribute for it being an undesirable location to live in.

    February 13, 2017
  25. Fireteen97 said:

    could a solar system be set up with multiple stars to where a planet never ever has a sunset?

    February 17, 2017
  26. Vatroslav Morbidović said:

    Here is an idea: how Sith shoot lightning from their arms? Without getting burned.

    February 18, 2017
  27. Jorden C said:

    is halo possible

    March 3, 2017
  28. Cayden S. said:

    I appreciate the person who wrote the subtitles… 3:42 "Light saber", it's amazing.

    March 10, 2017
  29. Jessi D'Arc said:

    They would also change colors during an eclipse, cause the light waves would balance each other out, and what we would see is their averages in wave form, at least on the star on the back they would. The star in the front would stay the same color. Not to mention it would affect the color of the sky

    March 11, 2017
  30. Vlad the Impaler said:

    you should do a video on the effects of the death star going to light speed

    March 15, 2017
  31. Luke Dorough said:

    Just 200 light years away..

    March 30, 2017
  32. Matt Peterson said:

    Love the Ahsoka hilt!

    April 2, 2017
  33. DreamIggy said:

    Okay but imagine if in a binary system one of the stars is actually a black hole…Now that'd be a sunset with the black hole's gravitational lensing as it passes its companion. (Also imagine that you could witness this disregarding the lethal radiation and the extreme tidal forces in such a place :D)

    April 7, 2017
  34. Urbaner rumble said:

    what if the stars are orbiting the planet.

    April 14, 2017
  35. Juho Kumpulainen said:

    I know this is an old video, but have you ever made or thoguht of making something about you know.. planets with multiple moons? Those are super common and popular in both sci-fi and fantasy genres!

    April 28, 2017
  36. Faceless Man said:

    No one wants to go to Tatooine.

    May 6, 2017
  37. Sakse said:

    if we imagine a system with two stars of roughly equal mass and size, wouldn't the stellar eclipses create huge fluctuations in the temperature of Tatooine thus making it inhabitable.

    May 9, 2017
  38. James Stout said:

    sorry, i may have missed this but, what if the suns orbital vector was not so horizontal? Could a non flat epicenter exist in a flat plane. I'm gonna do the math. because science

    May 24, 2017
  39. Enar 2000507 said:

    I thougt that one sun is a moon

    May 27, 2017
  40. Xcross Motovlogs said:

    did you ever come to think that the planet was actually bigger than the twin suns and that they revolved around the planet instead, kaboom mind blown

    May 31, 2017
  41. Suzy Lightning said:

    So long as you didn't live in a tri-solar system… that wouldn't be fun. :/

    May 31, 2017
  42. Jason Wacker said:

    Would all of ths apply to the entire day, and not just sun sets/rises?
    Does this mean that you could possibly have a day-long sun eclipse?

    June 4, 2017
  43. William Gallop said:

    How about shadows the two suns make?

    June 7, 2017
  44. Alex P said:

    Love this channel. One small correction though.
    When you say that most solar systems are binary, trinary etc., that means most of those we have catalogued, and multiple star systems tend to be brighter and easier to find and categorize.

    June 10, 2017
  45. maistromann said:

    Last time I was this early, Pluto was still a planet.

    I'm not actually early, I just wanted to make this joke

    June 17, 2017
  46. SRI RACHA said:

    someone please tell me where this man went to college

    June 19, 2017
  47. Rex Harrison said:

    You should start differentiating between actual science, which can be observed, tested and repeated by anyone vs. the "science" that you have to take the word of a few individuals as to the "proof" of it. This is not a knock, but just something to use a critical mind to think about.

    June 25, 2017
  48. Ian Babcock said:

    I don't want to go to Tatooine because I don't like sand. It's coarse, rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.

    July 14, 2017
  49. Randall Romeo said:

    unmistakablebleble @ 0:32 lol

    July 20, 2017
  50. tymbershade said:

    With two suns on Tatooine how would that effect it's gravity?

    July 30, 2017
  51. Matt1991 said:

    Wouldn't the red star be a red drawf though? A formerly far bigger sun then the yellow one collapsed down so in theory the yellow star should be orbiting the red drawf due to its far greater mass? So tatoine and the yellow sun in theory both orbit the red star possibly tidally locked so there would never be a full sun set but the red 1 would disperse from the sky at certain times of their orbit?

    July 30, 2017
  52. Eric Scott said:

    Great stuff! If they make an Obi Wan movie, I hope the makers see this video. That would be awesome to see using today's modern special effects!

    August 13, 2017
  53. Goode God said:

    Failed to mention that the color of the sky would change drastically once one of the stars fell below the horizon.

    October 7, 2017
  54. Isaac Sand said:

    if those Suns were red and yellow suns would superman have powers

    November 7, 2017
  55. Zeo Dirk said:

    Someone's giving credit to George Lucas. Here comes the nostalgia blind OT fanboys.

    November 21, 2017
  56. Scott Henderson said:

    @nerdist ok I have a question , the story John Carter has the character teleported to Mars via what seems to be quantum teleportation. My question is since his Martian body is made from material on Mars would he be 1. Less dense and 2. Not have the super strength and ability to jump to ridiculous hights due to the Martian gravity being a factor in his constituting on Mars? The question comes more from a dream I had but wanted to pose it with the sci-fi theme you use.

    November 28, 2017
  57. Marlon James said:

    thx for your knowledge master qui gonne

    December 19, 2017
  58. Jeremy Kurtz said:

    To quote Luke, "no, no; that's not true; that's impossible! clears throat


    December 29, 2017
  59. Sergio Lopez said:

    i love how you apologized to Neptune, but Pluto can suck it

    December 30, 2017
  60. Soup Boi said:

    0:32 is unmistakibble

    December 31, 2017
  61. Aroxx said:

    where was the surprise light saber?

    January 4, 2018
  62. Brian Sanders said:

    How about an episode explaining how the Power Rangers' suits appear instantly?

    January 9, 2018
  63. Brian Sanders said:

    Is no one else questioning just how much solar radiation a binary star puts out? And whether or not a planet orbiting a binary star would even be habitable?

    January 9, 2018
  64. Amaroq Starwind said:

    You forgot to mention the rainbows

    January 11, 2018
  65. JediFrog said:

    Now, every time I watch that scene, I'm going to think "So, is Luke thinking, or does he just like seeing what Evey sunset is like since they're so different?" Because Science.

    January 12, 2018
  66. Spencer S. Young said:

    With all of that gravity of 2 suns what would happen if 1 of those stars died? Neutron star super nova whatever how would it effect the other star/sun?

    January 13, 2018
  67. Daniel Gimenez said:

    ALso the shadow! I had always wondered why they did not put two shadows. Maybe that would not occur becasue fo the distance, one would think that with two incoming light sources there would be… two shadows?

    January 13, 2018
  68. Dankツ said:

    what about the three moons of tatooine?

    January 14, 2018
  69. natchnieni0 said:

    Didn't they discuss something like this on K-Pax? Wouldn't it be an almost constant twilight? Wouldn't it make the inhabitants light sensitive?

    January 14, 2018
  70. Bob Stomachbaby said:

    what about 3 stars? 4? 5? 6? 7? 8?

    January 17, 2018
  71. Carrie-Anne Walker said:

    if one star is big enough it would have gravitational pull big enough to pull the smaller star until the two collided creating either a bigger star but burn everyone on Tatooine alive or create a black hole still killing everyone on Tatooine ( also the two suns are called Tatoo I and Tatoo II )

    January 18, 2018
  72. Cheburushka said:

    Been watching so long, still not sure whether he is actually behind glas drawing on it sometimes or not.

    January 22, 2018
  73. Michael Tryon said:

    you forgot Pluto as well

    January 29, 2018
  74. Heliophage said:

    Wouldn't light bend around the stars ever so slightly and give each other halos during eclipses?

    January 29, 2018
  75. esotericpig said:

    It's actually theorized that life is usually created in binary solar systems. The science behind it is that more sunlight creates more chances for life. It is also similar to our past mistake of assuming the Earth was the center and all planets revolve around us, taking our solar system and applying it to everything around us. Instead, scientists should probably spend more time looking for life in binary solar systems. Maybe our solar system is actually rare, not the norm. Of course, it is all a theory, but we haven't had much luck with single star solar systems.

    February 4, 2018
  76. TheTransforcer said:

    I kind of expected the science behind how the LIGHR would look like, not the celestial movement of the suns orbits.

    February 7, 2018
  77. El Presidente said:

    Wouldn't it be cool if Kyle new the exact position of Kepler 16 in the sky and when he pointed at the background he was literally pointing exactly where Kepler 16 is.

    February 17, 2018
  78. Ema Počubayová said:

    I love it soooo much! Could you look into two or more moons?
    Thank you so much!

    March 10, 2018
  79. John Wack said:

    Dont most solar systems have 2 stars? Like cus they each feed off each other. Idk I'm not the science guy here just figured id ask

    March 31, 2018
  80. Jonathan Abbott said:

    Brian Aldis' book, Heliconia, features a binary star system and an orbit for the planet Heliconia of 100s of years. A great book and the unusual setting makes for some interesting plot lines

    April 1, 2018
  81. Magnaboss Prime said:

    1:10 now I'm imagining there being a real planet namek lol, where it would finally be night……..in the first time since you've been there………….on a planet with three suns

    April 6, 2018
  82. Gabriel Ybarra said:

    0:33 "unmistakablbl"

    April 27, 2018
  83. edrew 99 said:

    I get that a Jedi Mind trick is a power that comes from the force, but how would it work, scientifically speaking? I feel like it would border into the pseudoscience realm, or even psychology.

    May 7, 2018
  84. Cat Cameron said:

    Does this explain the sunsets in The Last Jedi? Binary star?

    June 15, 2018
  85. Vuk Vucinic said:

    Bianary system

    July 5, 2018
  86. Vuk Vucinic said:

    Star system

    July 5, 2018
  87. Kommandant Wulf said:

    I noticed Neptune was missing when I was looking at the chart, because I counted the planets… I am weird .-.

    July 16, 2018
  88. Agent Washington said:

    Psycial technicalites

    July 19, 2018
  89. André / Pyroghoul said:

    6:11 and that's why they live in holes in the ground. With few windows.

    July 28, 2018
  90. Narrative Knight said:

    I always assumed a blue/white giant and a red giant because that is what it looks like to me. Oh, because I believed that Tatooine was a desert planet, I never believed it had the same axial tilt or rotations as Earth. The odds would actually seem to be unlikely that this would be the case.

    July 30, 2018
  91. Chris p said:

    two stars not suns. sun is just the name of the star that earth orbits

    August 1, 2018
  92. Alexandre Jesus said:

    Gantz tech

    August 24, 2018
  93. TK_Warrior said:


    October 31, 2018
  94. david slacks said:

    What about the moons of elder scrolls

    November 1, 2018
  95. I Like Dick said:

    That’s cool

    January 25, 2019
  96. Michael Fuller said:

    If you go to tatooine watch out for tusken raiders kyle

    May 27, 2019
  97. Elliot Grey said:

    I was just thinking about this.

    This is officially my favorite episode of Because Science

    July 5, 2019
  98. Cyber Wizard said:

    Wait, but with two celestial bodies emitting the same radioactive amount of heat, wouldn't the planet of Tatooine be burned up?

    July 17, 2019
  99. V S said:

    Don’t come to anywhere near the arctic circle.

    August 26, 2019
  100. William Nolan said:


    September 7, 2019

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