||This Star Wars-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (July 2010)|
|Distance from Core||<5,000 light years|
|Number of suns||1|
|Number of moons||1|
|Length of year||364 standard days|
|Length of day||24 standard hours
|Major species||Humans, Killiks (c. 1000 BBY)|
|Population||1.97 billion (before its destruction; 60,000 residents not on the planet at the time of its destruction)|
|Primary terrain||Mountains, small seas, forests, plains|
|Points of interest||Aldera (capital), Crevasse City, Castle Lands|
|Affiliation||Galactic Republic, Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance|
Alderaan was a terrestrial planet in the fictional universe of Star Wars. It was the home of the characters Princess Leia, Bail Organa, Tycho Celchu and also, in 4000 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), Ulic Qel Droma who fought in the Great Sith War. It was destroyed by the Death Star's superlaser.
There are three descriptions or depictions of Alderaan:
- In the Expanded Universe descriptions
- Considered a "Shining Star" of the Core Worlds. Wild grasslands and old mountain ranges dominated the planet's surface. Ice-rimmed polar seas were the only large bodies of water, though thousands of freshwater and saltwater lakes provided habitats for a large variety of flora and fauna. Alderaan was also the home-world of some of the galaxy's most famous animals, such as the nerf and the Thranta. Cities of Alderaan were often built with great care taken to protect nature. One city was built on the walls of a canyon, nearly invisible from above. Other cities were built on stilts along the shoreline or under the polar ice. The capital, Aldera, known for its university, was built on a small island in the center of a caldera.
- In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- The terrain of Alderaan appears to be mountainous and the planet surface bears little resemblance to established Expanded Universe descriptions; however, only a small fraction of the planet is actually seen.
- In Episode IV: A New Hope
- Alderaan is seen only from space and appears to be an Earth-like planet covered mostly in water, and then as an asteroid belt called The Graveyard after its destruction by the Death Star.
The Alderanian people highly valued education, arts, architecture, poetry, the performing arts, and diplomacy. They placed high value in their participation in the Galactic (later Imperial) Senate. It was a largely democratic society, and took the form of a hereditary constitutional monarchy that was ruled by a monarch from the historic Royal House of Antilles and later, due to marriage, the House of Organa. It had a minister presiding over the High Court and legislative High Council of Alderaan, and in various descriptions of this figure, styled First Chairman and Viceroy, he appeared to function as a generally benevolent leader. Its monarchs have variously borne the title of King or Queen of Alderaan. The ruler of Alderaan from the end of Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope was Queen Breha Antilles-Organa. Queen Breha was married to Bail Organa, who served a term as Senator during the events depicted in Revenge of the Sith, later serving as both prince consort and first chairman of Alderaan. Traditionally, the heir of the Alderanian throne also served as a lawmaker, first locally in the High Council, then on Coruscant as an interplanetary Senator for Alderaan. Queen Breha and Bail's heir and (secretly adopted) daughter was Princess Leia, who was serving as Senator for Alderaan in the Imperial Senate during the events depicted in A New Hope.
History and destruction
After the Clone Wars, Alderaan's massive war machine was dismantled and the weapons were placed aboard an armory warship called Another Chance. The ship was programmed to continually jump through hyperspace until called home by the Alderanian Council.
Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star's superlaser in Episode IV: A New Hope at Grand Moff Tarkin's order as a demonstration of its power to the galaxy. (Despite Princess Leia's protests of Alderaan being a peaceful world with no weapons, the film's novelization states that the planet had armaments as strong as any planet in the Empire.) Even though Leia offered the location of an abandoned Rebel base, Dantooine, Tarkin thought he won, causing him to order the destruction of Alderaan. The superlaser was then fired at Alderaan, destroying Alderaan's planetary shield completely upon contact. The reactivity of Alderaan's shield & subsequently the reactivity of the planet itself when exposed to the Death Star's superlaser indicates that a high level of pyrophoric materials were present on and within Alderaan. This condition would have made it especially prone to a violent reaction and as such, a perfect place for the empire to set an example. The hypermatter reactor had given the beam a superluminal boost, which upon contact with the assistance of Alderaan's pyrophoric rich surface, pushed a large part of the planet's mass into hyperspace. The huge loss of mass forced the planet to expand rapidly like a balloon and nova, killing approximately 2 billion people.
Tarkin felt the Rebels were growing bolder, and only a very public demonstration of the Death Star's power against a Rebel target would succeed in frightening the Alliance into submission. Palpatine approved in advance of the destruction of the planet, but publicly adopted a benevolent persona, announcing that he was saddened by the loss of such a noble world. He added that, had Alderaan entrusted itself to Imperial protection, it would still be thriving. In other words, the destruction of Alderaan might not have been necessary had Bail Organa simply bowed before the emperor. Although most Alderaanians died in the destruction of the planet, approximately 60,000 natives survived because they were off-world, and many of them relocated to New Alderaan, hoping to recreate the beauty that had been on Alderaan. The Emperor had made an apparently magnanimous offer to resettle the surviving Alderaanians who were away when their home world was destroyed on his "private resort world."
- "These people have lost a home world through no fault of their own. Offering them a new home world is the least I can do to compensate them for their loss."
The planet's catastrophic explosion was not without detrimental effects to the Empire, however. Once word of the world's fate got out, thousands of Alderanians who had been off-planet joined the Rebel Alliance. Alderaan's survivors became among the most dedicated soldiers of the Alliance, vowing never again to let the Empire destroy another world. Most Imperial military members from Alderaan immediately defected to the Rebellion. A few of the Alderanian survivors became supporters of the Empire, blaming the inept and traitorous first chairman Prince Bail Organa and the rebellion for opposing the Emperor and thereby destroying everything they had, even their loved ones. Princess Leia met one such supporter, an Imperial military officer, on the planet Bakura during a temporary truce between the Alliance and one section of the Empire.
Survivors of Alderaan and their descendants practiced a ritual of "returning" to the Alderaan system. Returners would fill memorial capsules with gifts for departed relatives and friends and jettison them into the asteroid field (known as the Graveyard), which was all that remained of the planet after its destruction. Some survivors, such as Tycho Celchu, had made known their desires to be buried amid the remains of their former home world after their deaths.
With Alderaan destroyed, some council members led the people to New Alderaan, which was founded after the Galactic Civil War died down somewhat. The Royal House of Alderaan, in the person of Leia Organa-Solo and her children, continue to hold sovereignty of both New Alderaan and the Alderaan system. The government on New Alderaan administers both systems. 
References in pop culture
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe 3rd Edition, by Bill Slavicsek, Del Rey Books
- The Essential guide to Planets and Moons (Star Wars), 1st edition, by Daniel Wallace, Scott Kolins. 1998. ISBN 0-345-42068-3
- Star Wars: Rebel Dawn (Book 3 of "The Han Solo Trilogy"), by A. C. Crispin. 1998. ISBN 0-553-57417-5
- Star Wars, X-Wing: The Bacta War, (Book 4 of The X-Wing series), 1sp paperback printing, 1997. Michael A. Stackpole, ISBN 0-553-56804-3
- Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays, softcover, 1997. George Lucas, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Laurent Bouzereau, ISBN 0-345-40981-7
- Star Wars: Roleplaying Game- Coruscant and the Core Worlds, hardcover 2003, by Craig R. Carey, Chris Doyle, Jason Fry, Paul Sudlow, John Terra, Daniel Wallace, ISBN 0-7869-2879-4