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In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke crashes his X-Wing on Dagobah after scanning the planet for technology and lifeforms.

LUKE (into comlink)

I'm not picking up any cities or technology. Massive life-form readings, though. There's something alive down there...

Followed by:

EXT. SPACE - DAGOBAH - LUKE'S X-WING

The X-wing continues its flight through the twilight above the cloud- covered planet.

INT. LUKE'S X-WING - COCKPIT

Luke sees the cloud race by as he takes his craft closer to the planet. He must operate his controls carefully since the cloud cover has completely obscured his vision. An alarm buzzes in the background, Artoo beeps and whistles frantically.

LUKE (into comlink)

I know, I know! All the scopes are dead. I can't see a thing! Just hang on, I'm going to start the landing cycle...

Source: The Empire Strikes Back script

According to Wookiepedia, Dagobah has a diameter of 8,900 km, which means that it has approximately 50% of the surface area of Earth. Landing randomly on the planet, it's unlikely he would land within walking distance of Yoda's hut.

How did Luke know where to land his X-Wing? From the script, it does not sound like he intentionally landed anywhere. Was he guided by the Force? Did Kenobi's Force ghost tell him where to land off-screen? Something else?

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This is just speculation but my guess is that Luke relied on his intuition which (although he didn't know it) was being guided heavily by the force. –  KennyPeanuts Mar 20 at 17:16
    
Flying through hyperspace without nav computer and arriving at Dagobah (or arriving anywhere alive at all) is similarly unlikely. –  Damon Mar 21 at 15:40
    
@Damon R2-D2 knew the location of Dagobah. Yoda took him to Dagobah decades ago. –  Sachin Shekhar Mar 22 at 15:35
    
@SachinShekhar: Even if that was so (which isn't the case), it is an astromech droid, not an astro-nav droid. The robot isn't navigating (it's explicitly said that Luke navigates without computer) –  Damon Mar 24 at 0:18
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@SachinShekhar: You cannot be serious. A joke movie's spin-off TV series? Not only that it was produced 30 years after The Empire Strikes Back, but like all TV series it was also written by a group of two dozen "hobby screenwriters" with Katie Lucas being the only ressemblance, if any, to the original movies (but only by her father's name, anyway). –  Damon Mar 24 at 11:09

7 Answers 7

up vote 29 down vote accepted

In the Canon-ish Thrawn novels, Luke returns to Dagobah. On arrival he notes that his sensors, which failed so spectacularly on his first trip are now working perfectly. He muses that it was probably Yoda who'd guided him to a soft swamp within easy walking distance of his home.

There was an affirmative twitter from the rear, the translation appearing across his computer scope. “Good,” Luke said, and turned his attention back to the cloud-shrouded planet rushing up to meet them. It was odd, he thought, how it had only been on that first trip in to Dagobah that the sensors had so totally failed on approach.

Or perhaps not so odd. Perhaps that had been Yoda, deliberately suppressing his instruments so as to be able to guide him unsuspectingly to the proper landing site.

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And to note, there is a (canon-ish) Force power specifically about mucking with electrical systems. This is how it described in KOTOR, but in theory it was also used in the droid uprising: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ionize –  joshbirk Mar 20 at 19:52
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I like to think Yoda, with his very strong ability to predict the future, knew years in advance that Luke would have trouble finding his way on Dagobah due to sensor interference (solar flare, maybe?), and thus built his shack right next to the place he foretold Luke would crash land. –  Dungarth Mar 21 at 12:28
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@Dungarth - Clever, I like it :-) –  Richard Mar 21 at 12:53
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Damn, I had no idea Luke used Twitter to navigate. –  Robert Harvey Mar 21 at 17:28
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@RobertHarvey - twitter.com/lukeskywalker –  Richard Mar 21 at 17:29

The Force Did It

I put this in the same category as whether Jar Jar is an agent of The Force. Jar Jar is a complete moron who frequently seems to win the day despite himself and the fact that he is even still alive seems to indicate that The Force guides him. He's like the idiot savant of Force-sensitives, with an emphasis on idiot. This is even more evident in The Clone Wars TV show.

That Luke blindly lands so close to Yoda as to easily find him seems to be in the "trust in the force" zone, not entirely outside the realm of firing torpedoes into a ventilation shaft without computer assistance.

Out-of-universe, of course, Luke needs to find Yoda quickly since wandering around Dagobah would get boring fast.

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It's much easier for the Force to guide someone when pesky things like thinking don't get in the way. –  David Starkey Mar 20 at 21:55
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@DavidStarkey - The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded –  DVK Mar 21 at 2:28

In the last season of the Clone Wars cartoon, Yoda and R2 go to Dagobah. It could be that R2 subtly navigated Luke to the same part of the planet that he had already visited with Yoda before.

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Coincidence (and The Force) likely played a part in it.

The real answer though is that he didn't. As the quote you posted shows, he had no idea what Dagobah was like, or where to find Yoda - just that he had to go there and recieve training from a Jedi Master.

That Yoda managed to find him may have been Yoda's own guidance in the force, or perhaps yet-another major coincidence.

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I don’t think he landed randomly.

I'm not picking up any cities or technology. Massive life-form readings, though. There's something alive down there...

It could be that the area where Yoda lives is the only area on the planet with life-form readings (or “massive” life form readings). Admittedly, that seems unlikely.

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I'm not sure there is any way to describe Yoda as "massive". I always took that line to indicate Dagobah is teeming with life. –  joshbirk Mar 20 at 17:16
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@joshbirk: sure, although there is the creature that nearly drowns Luke after he lands. (If I’m remembering correctly?) It might be that Yoda’s swamp is teeming with life, and the rest of the planet isn’t. –  Paul D. Waite Mar 20 at 17:39
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I gotya, my misread. A good theory, though all planets in Star Wars seem to only be able to contain a single ecosystem :) –  joshbirk Mar 20 at 17:45
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Luke nearly drowns in the waste compactor after rescuing Leia. It's R2D2 who gets grabbed and then spat out by an unseen aquatic predator. –  Pompom78 Mar 20 at 18:56
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@Pompom78: right, I knew there was something. I bet that thing and Yoda hang out by a campfire every Friday night when Yoda hasn’t got guests. –  Paul D. Waite Mar 20 at 19:21

This is an easy one,

THE FORCE.

If you see in the film as Luke is checking his instruments, he also looks quite serious as if he knows something that we dont. Anyone else would have crashed into thousand bits.

Although he says "I cant see a thing" and "Starting the landing cycle" he was probably responding to R2 in some general way.

The "I know, I know!" was the reply to R2 meaning "Cool, Im using the Force i know where im going, i know we are about to crash but rest assured im here to become a Jedy, so keeps you pants on"

Like sometimes when we drive in thick Fog, we say "i cant see a thing" but we manage to drive on anyway. Maybe we are using the Force.

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Sure, who'd not be excited on the prospect of becoming a Jedy. –  bitmask Mar 25 at 21:16

If you take the films as the entire cannon, I think Luke just happening on Yoda's hut thing is essentially part of the motif of fate. Luke was 'destined' to meet Yoda. It was unavoidable.

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That doesn't really explain how he knew where to land. Waving your hand airily in the air and saying "it's fate" is quite a lazy answer. –  Richard Mar 21 at 15:08

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