Someone Figured Out How Long Ago ‘Star Wars’ Actually Takes Place
While the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan might beg to differ, I’m of the firm belief that the original Star Wars has the most iconic opening of any movie ever made. There’s just something about the combination of the scrolling text and John Williams’ legendary score that never fails to get me amped up for some intergalactic shenanigans.
The credits set the stage for the events that take place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” which is about as vague of a description as you’ll ever come across. Thankfully, one man took it upon himself to calculate exactly how long “long ago” really is, because hardcore Star Wars fans will not rest until they discover every single detail about the movie’s universe.
Patrick Johnson is the author of The Physics of Star Wars: The Science Behind a Galaxy Far, Far Away, a book that attempts to provide real-world explanations for the fictional universe depicted onscreen. Wired published an excerpt in which Johnson explains how he came to his conclusion, saying:
The first galaxies were formed around a billion years after the big bang, so that cuts out a billion years. The films depict many star systems with mature planets and intelligent life. It took the solar system about 500 million years to form, and it formed 4.6 billion years ago, so it’s reasonable to assume that Star Wars is about 5 billion years after the formation of the first galaxy.
Based on his calculations, Johnson estimates the events of Star Wars take place 4.7 billion years before modern times, which makes “long ago” a bit of an understatement. If you want to get way too deep into the science of Star Wars, I suggest reading the entire article.