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Star Wars: What Is A Parsec?

In "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope," Han Solo (Harrison Ford) brags about how the Millennium Falcon did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. It's the line that would send astronomers and scientists into a blind rage for decades, as a parsec is an actual term used to refer to a unit of distance. Specifically, a parsec refers to roughly 19 trillion miles, which comes out to 3.26 light-years. However, the way Han talks about parsec in the movie, one would surmise that it would be a unit of speed or time.

A parsec remains a unit of distance in the "Star Wars" universe, which also refers to 3.26 light-years. While Han Solo's usage of the term would be highly contentious for years, the franchise would use it correctly later. In "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," Padmé (Natalie Portman) has the following line when talking about how she and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) can help Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) on another planet: "Geonosis is less than a parsec away." She uses the term correctly to refer to distance, confirming that parsecs are the same in "Star Wars" as they are in the real world.

Solo fixed Star Wars' parsec problem - but did it need to?

Han Solo's parsec line from "A New Hope" always seemed like a huge "Star Wars" plot hole. It would finally get further clarification in 2018's "Solo: A Star Wars Story," which sees a younger Han (Alden Ehrenreich) go through the Kessel Run, a route that's 18 parsecs long. However, Han and crew have to circumnavigate the typical route to evade the Empire, meaning they have to take a perilous shortcut. As such, Han literally completes the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs as opposed to 18, which is why it's a bragging point in "A New Hope." it's Han boasting about how the Millennium Falcon can handle even the toughest paths.

However, while the original line was discussed and analyzed for decades, there's a chance people overlooked what it actually could've meant. When rewatching Han's encounter with Luke (Mark Hamill) and Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness), it's important to look at Obi-Wan's reaction. Han has the line about making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, and then it cuts to Obi-Wan making a quizzical look. Han is a rogue and a scoundrel. It's within his character to lie to get any job, and a guy like him, who may have only heard the term "parsec" in passing, may have lied so that Obi-Wan and Luke would hire him. Han's talking a big game and misusing a term, which may fool Luke, but Obi-Wan sees right through him.

Han Solo's parsec line may have never needed correcting. Either way, at least plenty of laypeople who don't work in the science field will forever know parsec refers to distance, not time.