There are some images in which the superlaser dish of the Death Star appears in the southern hemisphere, not the northern hemisphere as it usually does. Why is this?

Note: the idea for this question came from this site.

  • 1
    This might help how you think about positioning in space: cleverthingstosay.com/2010/01/28/space-and-the-y-axis
    – fotijr
    May 9, 2016 at 13:47
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    I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason has something to do with how foreigners often depict the Earth. When shown to Americans, the globe is most recognizable if North America is centered. If shown to an Asian, Asia is centered. And so on. It wouldn't surprise me if the marketing team knew that foreigners would perceive the Death Star differently one way or the other.
    – Matt
    May 9, 2016 at 18:23
  • Coz "straya"? Seriously though, how do you know you're not upside down?
    – paulzag
    Jul 12, 2016 at 15:19
  • 3
    In space, no one can hear the geography teacher scream. Oct 13, 2022 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


In space, orientation is relative

Unless the Death Star is very close to a planet or other massive body, any significant gravity it produces is artificial. As such, whether the laser dish is in the southern or northern hemispheres is purely a matter of camera angle.

Sometimes it looks like this:

Image of the Death Star in space, illuminated from the right; the Death Star is viewed from directly above the equator with the superlaser dish in the upper right quadrant.

Other times it looks more like this:

An X-wing chases a TIE fighter through space, with 2 red bolts streaking forward from the X-wing and past the TIE fighter.  The fighters are both flying from the upper right to the lower left and in the upper-left corner of the frame a quadrant of the Death Star appears.  Slightly more than half the height of the Death Star is visible, but only half its width; the superlaser dish is centred in the visible part of the lower hemisphere.

But in either case, the laser disk is in the same position relative to the ship itself.

Many shots are taken from the point of view of the ships flying around the Death Star, so that probably influences what the apparent orientation is, as is probably the case in the second picture.

So another answer might be:

In order to give the impression of flying around the Death Star

  • 1
    +1 Or in the Western Hemisphere. Or Eastern Hemisphere.
    – iMerchant
    May 9, 2016 at 0:32
  • 50
    Or as Wiggins would say. "The enemy's gate is down".
    – Aron
    May 9, 2016 at 2:22
  • 12
    Idea for next Alien sequel: "In space, no one can see you stand upside down" May 9, 2016 at 8:06
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    North and south don't have anything to do with gravity, they're relative to the rotational axis of a planet. I don't assume the Death Star has a fixed rotation since that would be pretty inconvenient for a weapon. It does clearly have a division in hemispheres so I suppose you could name one of them north and the other one south if you liked.
    – Joren
    May 9, 2016 at 14:11
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    @SevenSidedDie: Indeed. For planets in the solar system the convention is to have north point in that direction that makes it lie in the same hemisphere with respect to the ecliptic as the Earth's north pole does, but obviously that's not very useful for bodies outside the solar system. You could perhaps instead use 'north' for the direction for which, if you put an observer towards the north looking down upon the body, he'd see the body rotating counter-clockwise, like Earth does. But of course at this point you're just making things up.
    – Joren
    May 9, 2016 at 21:28

It's always in the northern hemisphere. You're upside down.

The Emperor's throne room on the second Death Star was on the top of a 100-story tower located on the north pole of the superweapon.

The Emperor's throne room on the first Death Star was located in an observation dome at the top of a tower placed directly next to the station's superlaser. The platform served as Palpatine's watchtower in order to view the laser's firing demonstrations.

Subjectively, being poised to fire down on something is much more 'menacing' then just firing at it.

  • 24
    So that's what happened to his skin. "Hey, Tony... right? Can we put my tower back a little bit this time?"
    – Mazura
    May 8, 2016 at 22:10

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