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:


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


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 Wookieepedia, 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.
    – DQdlM
    Mar 20, 2014 at 17:16
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    Flying through hyperspace without nav computer and arriving at Dagobah (or arriving anywhere alive at all) is similarly unlikely.
    – Damon
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:40
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    @Damon R2-D2 knew the location of Dagobah. Yoda took him to Dagobah decades ago.
    – user931
    Mar 22, 2014 at 15:35
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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, 2014 at 11:09
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    @Damon The TV series is officially T-canon.
    – user931
    Mar 24, 2014 at 11:15

6 Answers 6


In the "Legends" 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.

Although these novels are no longer considered to be Disney canon, this seems as good an explanation as anything else.

  • 1
    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, 2014 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, 2014 at 12:28
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    @Dungarth - Clever, I like it :-)
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2014 at 12:53
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    Damn, I had no idea Luke used Twitter to navigate. Mar 21, 2014 at 17:28
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    @RobertHarvey - twitter.com/lukeskywalker
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2014 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.

  • 2
    It's much easier for the Force to guide someone when pesky things like thinking don't get in the way. Mar 20, 2014 at 21:55
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    @DavidStarkey - The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded Mar 21, 2014 at 2:28
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    I think we could probably close half of all Star Wars questions on this site with "The Force did it." Aug 17, 2014 at 3:24

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.


The information we need is contained within the movies, but needs to be carefully examined and considered to get the answer. The relevant items from the movies are:

On entering Dagobah's atmosphere, Luke's X-wing immediately loses all sensors. Luke quickly engages the "Landing Cycle", and almost immediately it seems the fighter has crashed through the tree canopy, into a swamp, and come to rest without serious injury to the occupants.

On Luke exiting the fighter, we see that it has come to rest about half submerged.

In the prequel trilogy, we see several instances of craft entering atmospheres at speed exhibiting a re-entry glow

In episode IV our first image of an X-wing in flight tells us it has anti-gravity vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

Yoda's mastery of the force enables him to easily stop heavy large objects in mid-air and return them in the opposite direction with great speed, as demonstrated in episodes II and III.

In episode VI when returning to Yoda's home, Luke does not experience any difficulties on final approach.

What can we tell from this? From the beginning. Luke must have entered the atmosphere at low speed, using the anti-grav capability to prevent accelerating beyond the X-wing's maximum atmospheric speed. we can tell this as there is no reentry glow as he enters the atmosphere. On losing sensors while still at significant altitude, Luke barely has time to lower the landing gear before splashing into the swamp. From this we can deduce that Yoda has used the force to grab the X-wing in mid flight and pull it almost straight down to a soft landing near his home. we can safely assume that with this level of power and control, Yoda can ensure the X-wing doesn't hit the water with enough speed to cause much damage. This is backed up by later references and events. When Yoda lifts the X-wing from the swamp, the landing gear is down and undamaged, this would have been ripped off had the fighter been moving with any significant speed.

We also find out Yoda has been watching Luke grow up light years away, and is able to speak at will with Obi-Wan, so he clearly had plenty of notice that Luke was coming, and would have been able to influence the course of Luke's approach to Dagobah to an extent so that major course alterations would not be necessary. Later Yoda uses removing the X-wing from the swamp as a highly significant lesson in the true power and nature of the Force. We can take from this that Yoda planned for the X-wing to land in the swamp in order to give this lesson, and also to remove Luke's access to some of the supplies onboard, in order that his training be more impactful due to Luke's having to endure adversity and discomfort.

Further information to support this can be taken from the apparent density of Dagobah's atmosphere, as seen in the humid misty swamp. this would indicate that Dagobah's atmosphere is roughly the same density at ground level as Earth, as these are similar to Earthly swamp conditions. Earth's atmosphere is about 60 miles high, so given the short time the X-wing takes to get from orbit to ground, without severe damage or reentry glow, we can deduce that it did not enter at high forward speed, and having traversed 60 miles of height in no more that a few minutes, there must have been intelligent control of this descent. We can also deduce that this intelligent control was not by the X-wing's flight systems, as sensors were down, and had they been able to detect the ground enough to slow descent to a safe speed, it would not have crashed through trees and landed in the swamp with the speed that it did.

  • TLDR but, +1 for landing safety in VI.
    – Mazura
    Sep 19, 2014 at 5:27

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, 2014 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. Mar 20, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 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. Mar 20, 2014 at 19:21

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.

  • 1
    The Jedi say there is no such thing as coincidence.
    – Wad Cheber
    Apr 24, 2015 at 7:54

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