In many places in the Star Wars films we see war rooms with transparent boards/walls/displays that have lots of glowing lines on them, for example this one behind Princess Leia:

Leia and a transparent board on the background

What are these called? What are they used for (in-universe)? Do the lines ever change or move? Is there any writing on them (perhaps too small to see in wide shots)?

  • 3
    They move in the new film. In the old trilogy, they're static. I guess it's supposed to be some sort of star chart.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 23:16
  • 5
    It's Gallifreyan writing, of course.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 23:31
  • @randal'thor not being a Who fan I had never heard of Gallifreyan writing. AWESOME. I wonder if anyone can actually write or read it proficiently?
    – zipquincy
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 0:10
  • 1
    @zipquincy - Oh yes. Nerds will guide you.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 0:34

4 Answers 4


It's a "Tactical Screen". You use it for plotting ship positions in space.

I used to own one. It wasn't very effective.

General Rieekan with hoth tactical screen

Bigger packaging of the above figurine

And from the SW: Empire Strikes Back Junior novelisation

The white-armored Imperial snowtroopers had to blast through the ice and a collapsed doorway to gain entrance to the command center. Two snowtroopers stepped past the broken remains of the tactical screens and comm consoles, and were followed by the dark, menacing form of Darth Vader.

  • 7
    Why wasn't yours very effective? Did you have trouble plotting ship positions in space? That sometimes happens to me too.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 0:19
  • 7
    @AndresF. - It was very very small. And made of plastic for some reason.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 0:20
  • 2
    And then there's that whole 2D thing. But supposedly all nD shapes have an (n-1)D equivalent (the holographic principal), so... Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 8:53

I've always assumed they were some sort of Radar/War map.

Here is a picture of the radar room in the aircraft carrier USS Hornet:

Yellow embedded radar


They appear to be maps/charts used by the Rebels, and kept up to date by the communications officers. We see them a few times, always next to them.

When the Imperial Probe droid is detected, the comm officer has a chart next to him. It's hard to tell, but Han and Leia look sort of towards it during the scene, but they may just be in thought.

map/chart 1

We see them again during the evacuation. Toryn Farr, specifically identified as a communications officer (and communications chief in the EU) is seated right in front of one.

torynn farr

Elsewhere in the base, we see someone manually updating the map.

they're not high tech

  • I always assumed the line showed the current trajectory, and the circles showed possible trajectories at set intervals in the future if the object turned at the fastest known possible speed. Like hurricane tracking charts.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 13:58

Homage to real world navies. They're called Plotting boards for radar, sonar or navigation or bombardment allocation within general direction of the ship and others a status board. The fact is, before computer or television screens, navies had dozens of clear grease pencil boards on ships for navigation of the vessel, location of objects/ships/threats in vicinity, mission planning, weather, etc. enter image description here These have been superseeded by the 60's and 70's by analog, plotting boards enter image description here Which in turn were largely replaced by digital boards. enter image description here

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