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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

How the Star Wars Kessel Run Turns Han Solo Into a Time-Traveler

•, By Kyle Hill
 A parsec is a unit of distance, not time, so why would Solo use it to explain how quickly his ship could travel?

There are two stories going on here. The first is that Solo’s famous line of dialog was simply a mistake of terminology. The second — the one I choose believe — is far more interesting, because it means that when Obi-Wan sat down across from the wryly smiling Han Solo in that cramped cantina, he met a time-traveling smuggler born at least 40 years before the events of The Phantom Menace ever took place.

A Parsec by Any Other Name

First coined in 1913 by British astronomer Herbert Hall Turner, the term “parsec” is a portmanteau of “parallax” and “second,” and is defined as the distance from the Sun to an object that has a one-arcsecond (1⁄3,600 of a degree) parallax. What this awesome-to-say description really means is that if you were to draw a straight line between an object and the Earth, and a straight line between the object and the Sun, if the angle between the lines is one-arcsecond, then the object is one parsec away — or 3.26 light-years.

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