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The Star Wars Death Star trench isn't where you think it is

Prepare to have your Star Wars mind blown. The actual location of the famous trench run in "A New Hope" isn't as obvious as almost everyone thinks.

These ships aren't heading for that big seam in the middle.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

I started my day with a well-deserved Star Wars-related face palm.

I've watched the Death Star-dooming trench run from "A New Hope" countless times. When I see an image of the Death Star, I look at that big seam around the spacecraft's middle and imagine the rebel ships diving into it on their way to wreaking havoc on Darth Vader's ride. I am wrong.

io9 brings to our attention a blog post by visual-effects artist Todd Vaziri from Industrial Light & Magic. He worked on "The Force Awakens" and "Rogue One." He explains how the famous trench run took place in a north-south vertical orientation on the Death Star, and not along the fat horizontal trench.

As Vaziri points out, it's actually pretty obvious that the equatorial trench, which is big enough to house huge hangar bays, isn't the same as the tight confines of the trench-run space. The final nail here is a scene most of us didn't pay enough attention to in the first place. It shows General Dodonna pointing out the north-south nature of the trench during a battle briefing.

Vaziri has some theories about why the mistaken impression is so widespread, even among hard-core fans.

He points out that the Death Star's two biggest features are the dish and the equatorial trench. "Our brains want to connect this new trench with something we've seen before, and because of their similarities, and the simplicity of that connection, it's not a big leap for us to (incorrectly) deduce the two trenches are one and the same," he writes.

Vaziri also reminds us not to be too hard on ourselves. "Don't feel badly if you thought the final trench was the equator. Heck, even Legoland got it wrong in its giant Death Star lego build," he notes.

Knowing the real location of the trench enhances my enjoyment of the action-packed sequence. I'm even more impressed with the skill and daring of the rebel pilots knowing how hard it must have been to locate and dive through that trench on the way to finding the Death Star's hidden weakness.

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