Too Close to the System

I keep seeing the same asinine claim about the Death Squadron's arrival at Hoth.  I don't know if it is always the same guy, but here is the lie as boldly proclaimed by SDN's "Captain Seafort" as proof of FTL sensors:

"ESB. Veers reports to Vader that the fleet has exited hyperspace, states that part of the Hoth VI is protected by an energy field, and that said field can deflect any bombardment. Vader complains that this means that the rebels had been alerted to their presence, and places the blame on Ozzel, saying he "came out of lightspeed too close to the system". This means that the fleet must be outside the system. The orbit of Nepture (the innermost point that can be considered the edge of our solar system) is about 4 light hours from the Sun, Hoth VI must be approximately the same distance from its star as the Earth is from ours as it's within the habitable zone (barely), and so the Imperial fleet must be at least several light hours from Hoth VI. Since Veers reported the fleet's exit from hyperspace at the same time he reported the existence of the shield, the two events must only be a few minutes apart. This would not be possible without FTL sensors. QED."
Ignoring the FTL sensor claim for the moment, let's focus on the Imperial hyperspace exit point.  Seafort basically suggests the Hoth system is similar to the Sol system, and that thus the Imperial fleet must have come out of hyperspace somewhere in a Neptune-esque orbit, whereas Hoth VI is in the Earth-like habitable zone four light-hours in.

This is all well and good, except for the minor detail that Seafort is smoking crack again.

Here's a shot from the scene of Death Squadron's arrival in the film:

That's Hoth you see.  They're tens of thousands of kilometers away, maybe low, low hundreds.  What was that about QED that Seafort said?  Perhaps he's misunderstood the acronym ... it doesn't mean Quite Extremely Distant, rather obviously.

Here's how the whole thing plays out in the script:
"Alarms sound throughout the hidden Rebel base. In the control room, a controller urgently gestures for General Rieekan to check a computer scan.
CONTROLLER: General, there's a fleet of Star Destroyers coming out of hyperspace in sector four.
RIEEKAN: Reroute all power to the energy shield. We've got to hold them till all transports are away. Prepare for ground assault.
Rieekan exits hurriedly.
Six huge Star Destroyers move through space into the Hoth system."
By this, the implication is that the Hoth system is no larger than the orbit of the moons of Hoth VI.  We could stretch and say there were only six planets so that the Rebel base world just happened to be the border for the whole star system, but given the peculiar use of "system" as I have been pointing out for awhile, it seems more likely this an example of a planet and its moons being described as "the system".  Case in point, the same thing occurs in the script for ANH, bolding mine:
        The princess, Threepio, and a field commander sit quietly before the giant display showing the planet Yavin and its four moons. The red dot that represents the Death Star moves ever closer to the system. A series of green dots appear around the fourth moon. A din of indistinct chatter fills the war room."
Here's the novelization's take:
" SIX ominous shapes appeared in the black space of the Hoth system and loomed like vast demons of destruction, ready to unleash the furies of their Imperial weapons. " 
 - TESB Novelization Ch. 4
The novelization thus puts them squarely inside the system, however it is meant.

Just for giggles, let's even see what the NPR radio play has to say . . .
VADER:  General Veers!
VEERS:  Yes, Lord Vader.
VADER:  What has happened?  Something is wrong.  Answer me!
VEERS:  The starfleet has moved out of lightspeed, my lord.  All our ships made the transition without incident.
VADER:  You will pay a terrible price for your next hesitation, General.
VEERS:  Com-scan has detected an energy field protecting Hoth, where our probe droid was destroyed.  It is a defensive shield, strong enough to deflect any bombardment the starfleet can deliver.
VADER:  Such a shield demands huge amounts of raw power.  The Rebels cannot possibly operate it constantly.  (beat) They are already alerted to our arrival.  Admiral Ozzel has brought the starfleet out of lightspeed too close to Hoth!
VEERS:  He - he felt that the advantages of suprise and a close striking distance were more vital.  There is a give and take in any battle plan, m'lord.
VADER:  Admiral Ozzel is as clumsy as he is stupid.  This will be no easy victory.
VEERS:  No, Lord Vader.  The Rebels are well-entrenched in ice caverns.  They have turned that part of Hoth into a fortress.
Nothing for Seafort there, either.

So, it's pretty clear and pretty consistent that Vader's Death Squadron emerged from hyperspace too close to the system, by which we actually mean the normal sort of distance at which one emerges from hyperspace near a planet.   This distance is measured in fractions of, or perhaps up to, one light-second (300,000km), and not light-hours.

Maybe from now on this will serve as easy reference point against those who try to inflate the true distance before our very eyes.


  1. Ah, nice. See, when I was reading the relevant thread at SDN I came to a full stop when Seafort's claim popped up. As it turns out, a poster there called "WATCH-MAN" gave a rousing defense against Seafort's claim generally similae to the above ... rather surprisingly even including my point over the term "system", which I am not sure I've seen anyone else note before. Quoting:

    "Who says that when Darth Vader said "system", he meant "star system"? He could have meant as well the set of gravitationally bound non-stellar objects - e.g. moons - in orbit around the planet Hoth.

    They knew after all on which planet the probe found the Rebels.

    And what sense would it make to "move out of light-speed" four light hours away from their destination if they then had to fly to their destination with a speed slower than light? They would have needed hours to reach the planet Hoth and would have been detected a fortiori.

    Furthermore, in the scene before the energy field is reported to Darth Vader, we see the imperial fleet in normal space with the planet Hoth in immediate vicinity - less than a few light seconds away."

    He then links to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV2DLkDPwM8 .., a video instead of my image. I guess the debate is getting to be like Facebook. Long ago it was text-based posts, then pictures of text, and now videos of pictures of text. Not that I'm bitter, you effing savages. ;-)

  2. I can buy the idea that they'd drop out of hyperspace on the edge of a star system and spend hours flying stealthily so no one picked them up. We know from the script that that first Star Destroyer we see is over Hoth. It was able to get there somehow without being detected. I'd assume that was the original plan before Ozzel messed things up.

    I also think that if your calculations on how long it took for Padme and Anakin to arrive on Geonosis from Tatooine is correct, this could actually make up some of the discrepancy. Anakin and Padme took their ship (taking whatever time to do preparations and say goodbyes and the like), made a quick hyperspace jump to the edge of the Geonosis star system, and spent a few hours flying sublight (and/or using stealth systems, or whatever it is they did) to avoid detection. The logic being even with that delay, they could still get there faster than the Jedi on Coruscant.

  3. I don't think that is a trick that would always work. If it did, we'd have seen or heard of it during TCW. I actually presume Vader wanted to probe or observe further with stealthier craft, or perhaps land some stealthier goons. Or perhaps he wanted all his fighters out and ready.

    But a Death Squadron is going to get attention no matter where it drops out of hyperspace, once it gets within sensor range. Flying sublight versus dropping out on top is irrelevant.

    I don't see any application to the Geonosis trip. Even if hyperspace exit is like a flashbulb in the sky from a sensor perspective, a ship is a ship.

  4. Tacking near Earth asteroids when they aren't taking steps not to be noticed is harder then it sounds even if you are tracking multiple 1.6 kilometer objects in a relatively tight formation around a 19 kilometer object, space is big. The Imperial Fleet may have been able to get close enough that the Rebels would have only had time to run for it, and little to no time to set up a delaying action.

    On a less serious note:
    I don't see a way to scale the planet in any of the pictures from the movie, and Star Wars seems to have a lot of absurdly tiny stellar objects, so why can't the reverse be true? What if the planet the Rebel base is on is just really big?