Near the end of Rogue One, when the Death Star

attacks Scarif

it can be seen from the planet’s surface, like a big moon. Even given that it’s in orbit and much nearer than a moon, this gives the impression that it’s very huge (as in all the other movies).

But in another scene, I think we see an Imperial shuttle leaving a hangar in the trench of the Death Star (possibly carrying Director Krennic). When the camera zooms out, the laser dish and the curvature of the Death Star comes into view and compared to the trench and the shuttle it seems much much smaller than it is normally depicted.

I can not rewatch this shuttle scene currently without going to the cinema. Did anybody else notice this?

(I assumed the whole Death Star is a CGI 3D model and any part can be rendered as needed. So how could this error have happened? Is a new 3D model created for every scene?)


To clarify what I think I saw I add this artistically challenged image. The small square is the hangar door which is perhaps double the height of the shuttle that left it. That would give a diameter of the death star in the range of a star destroyer or something like that:

enter image description here


I have to wait until I am able to rewatch the scene I think. But I found out that the trench at the equator is not the same as the trench in the trench run as I always thought. The equator trench seems indeed be much wider as I expected (roughly one km in my inferences from the pictures). So it could be that this fooled me and the size relations are all right. If anybody has a link to pictures or videos of the scene please post it.

  • Didn't see this, but could it be you're just underestimating the supposed acceleration and thus speed of the shuttle, and it is actually supposed to be much further away when the mentioned features come into sight? Jan 6, 2017 at 12:22
  • Are you taking into account that it might just be really really close to the planet?
    – Valorum
    Jan 6, 2017 at 12:25
  • As I remember you see the shuttle flying out of the hangar in the trench. The comparison between shuttle, hangar and trench gives an impression of its size. When zoming out you see the dish and the curvature near the trench, while the trench (and even the hangar doors in it) is still good visible. At least this is what I remember.
    – Hothie
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:02
  • “When the camera zooms out, the laser dish and the curvature of the Death Star comes into view and compared to the trench and the shuttle it seems much much smaller than it is normally depicted.” — Lenses bend light. It’s difficult to judge size, especially in space where there’s not much other stuff around for comparison. Jan 6, 2017 at 13:09
  • has there been a study on how big the original death star was supposed to be? i feel like with such a huge battle in ANH taking place on the surface, someone would have done the math. Second, if we had screenshots of this scene you're referring to, we could then make comparisons. I doubt it was a mistake on the filmmakers part, rather an illusion like others have said. (ie is it not actually THE trench and dish? but other parts of the DS itself?)
    – dasMetzger
    Jan 6, 2017 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


Perspective is everything.

Moon on the horizon

Moon above the horizon

These two photographs both show the same body, of course - Earth's moon. But one seems so much larger than the other, because of the way the pictures were taken. One is zoomed in, cropped, and shown near objects that we are familiar with for perspective. The other is zoomed well out, showing a large landscape around the moon.

The same is true of the shots of the Death Star in Rogue One. I suspect that the 'huge' shot of the Death Star you're referring to is this one:

enter image description here

It was also seen in the trailer. In this case, it was very likely deliberately framed to be remeniscent of pictures like the first one of Earth's moon.

The size is consistent; it's our perspective that's shifting

  • Yes, I know this effect. The problem I had was that in the scene of the movie I reference in my question it seems to me that the diameter of the dish was just perhaps 10 or 20 time the width of the trench. Normaly on pictures where you can see a big portion of the death star (with dish, curvature etc.) the trench (much less the hangar) is not even visible.
    – Hothie
    Jan 6, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    unfortunately, until we get screenshots of the scene in question, we might have to put this on hold :-/
    – dasMetzger
    Jan 6, 2017 at 14:30
  • 1
    Images like the fist one of the earth moon are often photo-shopped for Super Moon memes and such. The earth's moon and sun have very small variation in angular diameter (and are very similar to each other) so the picture of the moon or sun filling an image frame have to be done with telescopic optics, trees and such are hard to get into the same image in focus. For the Death Star to have such a large size compared to a planet means very low orbit and telephoto optics, planet curvature means image taken from space/high altitude. Poetic licence may apply.
    – KalleMP
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:27
  • If we take the last picture and assume a normal camera field of view of roughly 40° so the Death Star would be roughly 20° wide in the sky. The Death Star is 160km in diameter and 20° is 1/18th of a full circle. The circumfence of a circle is 2*r*PI. So the distance of the death star to the surface at that point would be 18/6.28 (or roughly 3) times the Death Star diameter - or it would be roughly 400km away from the view point. If the field of view is less than 40°, it would be further away.
    – Adwaenyth
    Jan 13, 2017 at 9:35
  • So, what you’re saying is that it’s true… from a certain point of view? Jan 22, 2023 at 16:58

It's definitely the same trench (trench run) in the shuttle scene at 55:53. You can see it as well as the same shuttle bays clearly around 23:37 after Tarkin tells the Krennic to commence a test on Jedha (with Tarkin's reflection in the window).

Judging from 23:37 and knowing that those are bays of some kind, the larger bays look big enough to allow star destroyers inside. Also in the shuttle scene at 55:53, if you look closely enough you can see hundreds if not thousands of tiny lights to the right of those 4 large bays indicating that the tiny lights are windows, the big ones could be spotlights or small bays. As others pointed out, it's all about perspective and the shuttle is very far from the bays at the opening of the scene, even though it appears it came out of one of the four larger ones (bottom right one). Just my two cents.

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