In 1997, the Star Wars franchise came to a desert area near Nefta, in western Tunisia, to construct a village that was meant to look out of this world. Indeed, the town it built was Mos Espa, which is supposed to be located on the planet of Tatooine. In the film, Mos Espa was the home of Anakin Skywalker. In fact, those buildings still stand in the desert today, and tourists are welcome to visit them. You may remember some of the scenery here from Star Wars episodes one and two. That is where they filmed the pod race, marketplace and slave quarters, among other scenes.
Makrem’s Star Wars images in a 1-minute video
An astrophotographer’s visit to Tatooine
Astrophotographer Makrem Larnaout journeyed into this desert to capture the Star Wars scenery under the night sky. Makrem wrote:
August 11, 2023, will forever be etched in my memory as a magical night when the cosmos bowed before the Star Wars village. This village, emblematic for all fans of the saga, was the wise choice of George Lucas to bring his epic universe to life. Among the countless planets in the universe, the Tunisian desert has been the setting of choice for the interstellar adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo.
The story began almost half a century ago, in 1976, when the first film in the saga, titled A New Hope (Episode IV), began its cinematic journey in Tatooine. This desert city [Nefta] on the edge of the country hosted the beginning of this intergalactic adventure. The very name of Tatooine evokes with a touch of mischief the reality of a desert city. Just like in the universe of Star Wars.
May the force be with them: Jedi, droids and hyperdrive ships have left their dazzling mark on these 200 kilometers of desert. Especially in the region of Douz, where the night sky has turned into a web of twinkling stars. It reminds all dreamers that the line between reality and fiction can sometimes blur, creating moments of wonder like the one I lived on that starry night in the Star Wars village.
More images from Tatooine/Tunisia
An artistic image with the Perseids
Bottom line: Astrophotographer Makrem Larnaout journeyed to the desert of Tunisia to capture the night sky as seen from a movie set for Star Wars. Enjoy his incredible images here.
Kelly Kizer Whitt has been a science writer specializing in astronomy for more than two decades. She began her career at Astronomy Magazine, and she has made regular contributions to AstronomyToday and the Sierra Club, among other outlets. Her children’s picture book, Solar System Forecast, was published in 2012. She has also written a young adult dystopian novel titled A Different Sky. When she is not reading or writing about astronomy and staring up at the stars, she enjoys traveling to the national parks, creating crossword puzzles, running, tennis, and paddleboarding. Kelly lives in Wisconsin.
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