The interior (open space) of Babylon 5 had night and day; whence came the daytime light? Light sources bright enough to account for the ‘daylight’ were never depicted in the show.

In Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama, the light sources are well described, and very bright.

  • I felt that my answer was pretty comprehensive. Let me know if there's any additional info that you're after before pushing the "accept" button
    – Valorum
    Mar 11, 2015 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


In a piece originally written on GEnie and archived on the excellent Lurker's Guide website, J. Michael Straczynski describes the station as being;

"...patterned physically after the work of such scientists as Gerard K. O'Neill"

with the central core of the station containing a

"hollow-world look, with fields and hydroponic gardens along the 360-degree circular section (which is about a half-mile, or a mile across)...This area is known as the Garden."

If you study other O'Neill Cyclinders, you can see that they have alternating glass and land sections to allow light but the B5 gardens seem to be lit using a "sun line", either chanelling light from the nearby Epsilon Eridani star using mirrors or simply creating artificial light using the station's powerful fusion reactors. The lack of an obvious channel between the exterior of the station and the interior would strongly suggest that it's the latter.

You can see the "sun lines" in the image and video below;

enter image description here

  • This is a good answer, but as someone t familiar with the show...how is the website relevant?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 12, 2014 at 20:09
  • 6
    @Pureferret - The midwinter.com/lurk/lurker.html website contains an extensive archive of interviews with the series creator. Basically if you want "Voice of God" for Babylon 5 then your first port of call should be the lurker's guide
    – Valorum
    Mar 12, 2014 at 20:29
  • That’s certainly the best episode to highlight the topic, perhaps, aside from “Mind War.” I don’t think the lights along the central axis are anywhere near bright enough to provide the illumination apparent in the show. What’s the interior radius of the station? Light intensity drops off as the inverse square of distance.
    – mlowry
    Mar 12, 2014 at 21:01
  • 2
    @mlowry: For a long cylindrical light source, the intensity actually falls off (approximately) as just the inverse of the distance, no square. In fact, all that should matter is the ratio between the radii of the light source and habitat cylinders, which, multiplied by the albedo of the habitat surface, should equal the ratio of their surface brightnesses. (To see why, note that, ignoring the end caps and any obstructions, the total light flux that falls on the habitat cylinder must equal the light flux emitted by the light source cylinder.) Mar 12, 2014 at 22:17
  • Thanks. I knew I was overlooking something. The lights near the axis still seem far too dark, considering how small they are compared to the habitat surface.
    – mlowry
    Mar 12, 2014 at 22:17

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