Category Archives: space & science

It’s Tatooine! NASA finds planet orbiting two stars

Why was John Knoll at a NASA press conference? Because the space agency has discovered a real-life Tatooine: A planet that orbits two stars at once. The New York Times writes:

The official name of the new planet is Kepler 16b, but astronomers are already referring to it informally as Tatooine, after the home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker in the George Lucas “Star Wars” movies, which also had two suns. Indeed, a representative from Mr. Lucas’s production company, Lucasfilm, expected to participate in a news conference at NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory in California, Kepler’s home office.

So, not a moon. Or a space station. I’m so relieved.

I hope it’s just a (forest) moon: ILM rep to be at NASA press conference Thursday

ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll will be at a NASA press conference on Thursday. The presser is regarding a discovery made by the Kepler misson.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the “habitable zone,” the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.

What could it be?

EUbits: Shadow Games mini-excerpts, looking at recent SW comics, and a real Crystal Star?

While a lot of talk this week has been focusing on the changes coming in the Star Wars Blu-ray release, there’s also been some news and chatter in the world of the Expanded Universe:

Shadow Games: Del Rey has posted two mini-excerpts from Shadow Games on the Star Wars Books account on Facebook. The novel, by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, comes out at the end of November.

Mini-excerpt #1 (from last week):

“Confidence,” Dash retorted, annoyed at being pulled out of his pleasant reverie. “The Outrider is twice the ship the Falcon is.” As far as he was concerned Solo’s boat was a scow compared with Dash’s heavily modified YT-2400.

Mini-excerpt #2:

“Then where am I supposed to come by these steely-eyed, laser-toting…characters?”

A smile curved Kendara Farlion’s lips and her teeth showed, white and even in her face. “I never thought I’d say this, but there are advantages to being from Mos Eisley. I know exactly where to look for that kind of character.”

Comics:

Favorite Scenes: Del Rey asked fans on Facebook to identify favorite scenes from the novels. A lot of deaths pop in: Anakin Solo, Ganner, Chewbacca (I guess fans have mellowed a bit on that) and Thrawn, as well as scenes from the X-Wing (both comedic and action scenes), Republic Commando, and Darth Bane series. Did not see any mentions of Waru or the Black Fleet Crisis, and that makes me sad.

Fact mirrors Star Wars fiction: Discovered: A real life “Crystal Star” (well, a crystallizing former star) – Formerly a white dwarf star, this planet is believed to be turning into one giant diamond. At 4,000 light-years away, it’ll take a while for this rock to be a girl’s best friend. Also, did not see any mentions of Waru, and that makes me sad again.

Inside the Indiana Jones museum exhibition

It belongs in a museum. So do you!The LA Times interviews the creative forces behind the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition tour, currently at the Montreal Science Centre until September. While no U.S. dates are on the schedule yet, the Indiana Jones exhibition, which features real archaeological artifacts alongside movie props, costumes and artwork, will travel for the next six years. Interviewed are the exhibits manager at Lucasfilm, Kyra Bowling; National Geographic’s archaeology fellow, Fredrik Hiebert; and co-project manager at X3 Productions, Geneviève Angio-Morneau.

Along with the interview, there’s a photo gallery of some of the props and artifacts on display. Some of the iconic props in the exhibition include the Ark of the Covenant, Holy Grail, and Crystal Skull. X3 has been producing a series of video clips related to the show – Fredrik Hiebert talking about the influence of the films on would-be archaeologists, and James Mathieu about the Penn Museum’s contribution to the exhibit’s real archaeological contents.

The exhibition, produced by X3 Productions, is a collaboration of Lucasfilm and the National Geographic Society. Stay in the loop on the exhibition with the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology Facebook page. One of Dr. Jones’ rivals once told the man in the fedora that he belonged in a museum — and now he’s been proven right.

iOS users get first peek at Star Wars Blu-ray extras

Those of us with iPhones and iPads will the first to get a closer look at the Star Wars Blu-ray extras. The Star Wars Blu-ray: Early Access app will be up for free in the Apple Store on Wednesday. If you’re lacking an iDevice, you can always check out booth #3528 at San Diego Comic-Con. Or, well, it’ll be all over the internet by Thursday, I’m sure.

UPDATE: The app is live now, but only for iPad users. (via)

In the news: Lucasfilm puts the brakes on “AT-AT for America”

Not so fast… Michael Koehler wants to build a life-size, working AT-AT. His project quickly got (l)ink from Cnet and the New York Daily News. A mention on Attack of the Show certainly didn’t hurt his cause… But it looks like it’s not exactly kosher with Lucasfilm. At least Koehler can solace in techies saying the feat is not impossible.

Paint it black? Plants on worlds with double stars – like Tatooine – would probably evolve plants that would look black to us, says National Geographic.

Blast-offs and could-have-beens. Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz writes in The Guardian’s film blog talks about the devotion the film inspired. Elsewhere on the site, Danny Leigh wonders what if Star Wars never existed?

A sandcrawler for Singpore. Remember the sandcrawler building that Lucasfilm was planning for their folks in Singapore? They announced details of the project last week.

Science, defense division. The U.S. Navy has made a significant leap forward in testing offensive lasers. A “solid-state, high-energy laser beam” successfully disabled a small vessel off the coast of California. There’s video!

Vader to make CES announcement Thursday

Darth Vader will be on hand at the Consumer Electronics Show later this week to make a “most impressive announcement.” While my immediate thought was the Blu-Rays or Phantom Menace 3-D, the location – Panasonic’s booth – makes me think it could have something to do with this little tidbit.

UPDATE 01/05: And it’s the Blu-Ray. Oh well!

UPDATE 01/06: The Digital Bits says that the announcement will be an October release date for Star Wars: The Complete Saga – 35th Anniversary Collection. We’ll find out for sure in a few hours. (via)