Department of Flight Studies
Basics of Astronomy
1 – Introduction
Welcome to the Astronomy Course. This course is designed to help you build your knowledge of the galaxy that we inhabit. We will cover topics such as types of planets, stars, galactic distances, and galactic anomalies.
The Galaxy offers a wide variety of planets and astronomical phenomena which continue to baffle scientists to this day. Ranging from city-planets like Coruscant to clusters of black holes to binary star systems with inhabitable worlds, the galaxy is very diverse. Once one goes into the unknown regions, the diversity continues to grow.
During this course you will learn some of the basics of starship navigation, as you are taught the different distances presented to you at a navicomputer, and possible hazards of navigating through the galaxy, such as stars and black holes. I would also like to remind you that this course is by no means a comprehensive guide; as such I would like to recommend that you do more research into these subjects.
2 – The Galaxy
First and foremost, we will briefly cover the galaxy in its entirety. The difference between a galaxy and the universe is a galaxy is a huge gravitationally bound system of stars, interstellar gas and dust, plasma, and unseen dark matter. They can contain upwards of 1 trillion stars. On the other hand, the universe is the sum of all known matter.
Even the smallest galaxies are massive, almost to the point of being beyond imagination. It is only through hyperdrive that we are even able to get from one planet to another. Mere kilometers are simply inefficient when it comes to measuring distances across the galaxy. Astronomers have developed larger units of measurement.
Here is how Astronomers measure the distance between celestial bodies:
- Distance to Satellites: Kilometers
- Distance to Planets: Astronomical Distances
- Distance to nearby Stars: Light years or Parsecs
- Distance on the Galactic Scale: Kilo Parsecs
- Distance to other Galaxies: Mega Parsecs
Definition of Distances:
*Astronomical Distance, sometimes known as an A.U. (astronomical unit): the current accepted distance for this is 150 Million Kilometers (93 million miles).
- Light-year: This is the distance light travels in one year’s (365 Coruscanti days) time. This is approx 9.461 pentameters (9,461,000,000,000 km). Light Years are NOT a unit of time.
- Parsec: This stands for parallax of one arc second. 1 parsec is equal to 3.262 light years.
- Kilo Parsec: This is equal to 1 thousand parsecs (3262 Light-years.)
- Mega Parsec: Is equal to 1 million parsecs (3,261,564 light years).
I would like to clarify here what Han Solo meant when he claims he made the Kessel Run in less than 12 Parsecs. The standard run is approximately 18 parsecs. Solo was able to make the run in a shorter distance by skirting close to one of the super massive black holes. A black hole warps time and matter the closer you get to it; as such, it shortened the distance needed to get from the beginning to the end of the run.
3 – Planets
Before we talk about individual planets, I should briefly explain what a solar system is. A solar system, often just called a star system, is a collection of planets, satellites, and other heavenly bodies orbiting around a central star (or, in some cases, stars). Not every star has a solar system and the number of planets per solar system will always vary. Planets and smaller objects are drawn by the star’s gravitational pull into elliptical paths called orbits.
There are many different types of planets within the galaxy, while I am only going to discuss a few of them, the ones I am going to cover are fairly well known, and serve as good case studies of the wide variety of planets we have.
This is a desert planet in the binary star system, Tatoo. This planet once had large oceans and world spanning jungles, until it was the target of an orbital bombardment by the Rakata. This fused the silica found in the ground into glass. The sand covering Tatooine now is remnants of this glass that have fragmented in the generations since.
This planet is an enigma to astrophysicists. The reason for this is the porous, plasma interior and lack of a molten core that cannot be found anywhere else in the known galaxy. Under the surface of the planet lies numerous water ways the native Gungans use as pathways to sacred places around the world.
This planet is classified as a gas giant, and its core is composed of metallic substances. This planet is well known for one of its habitable moons where the first Death Star battle took place.
Another planet considered an enigma in the universe. This planet is sentient, or capable of thought, and can travel through space. Not much else is known about this mysterious planet other than it is also considered a “seed planet” of the original home world of the Yuuzhan Vong invaders.
This planet is engulfed in lava flow. This is caused by the gravitational stress played on this planet by Jestefad and Lefrani, two gas giants.
A planet whose surface is 99% covered in water. Home to the Mon Calamari and Quarren, this planet’s name is actually Dac; the more commonly used name was derived from Humans.
A world covered by one giant city. This world is the center of everything that is the galaxy, even to the point that its Hyperspace coordinates are 0,0,0 or more commonly known as “Triple Zero”.
A world shrouded in mystery. At this time The Grand Master likes to have little information disseminated concerning this planet. It is believed that it is a harsh semi-arid planet. At this time the most domineering structure is that of the Dark Hall. Antei is orbited by the moon Lyspair, home to the Shadow Academy.
4 – Stars
A star is a massive body of plasma that is currently or has produced energy through nuclear fusion. Unlike a planet that only reflects light; a star actually emits it because of their heat. In this section, I will go through the various stages of a star’s life. Stars are born in nebulae, come in various sizes and have life spans of billions of years. Their temperature also varies, with red and yellow stars being cooler than white and blue stars. Stars begin as proto-stars and after “ignition,” they begin to grow and burn brighter. We will look at the typical life span of a yellow star, which is a medium range star and fairly common in the galaxy.
The normal surface temperature of one of these stars normally runs approximately 5,500 K. These types of stars, near the end of its existence, will normally expand into a Red Giant, sometimes engulfing the planets closest to it. At a minimum, any planets orbiting the star will face climate changes.
These are stars that can grow up to 8 times the mass of a normal Yellow Star. These stars come into existence near the end of a yellow star’s life span when the yellow star exhausts its source of hydrogen.
These stars are when a low to medium massed star dies, and cannot support the temperatures necessary for fusion. These stars slowly cool in space until they are no longer visible.
5 – Galactic Phenomena
This section will cover oddities within the galaxy that have puzzled astrophysicists. This will range from black holes and their clusters (i.e. The Maw) and the Dark Shroud. I must w