We all know that asteroid fields are dangerous because -- to quote C-3PO from Star Wars -- the odds of navigating one are 3,720 to 1. In real life, though, C-3PO could've just sighed and taken a nap, because Han Solo probably couldn't have hit an asteroid unless he was truly awful at flying the Millennium Falcon.

Thanks To Movies You're Imagining Asteroid Fields 100% Wrong
Lucasfilm
"Eh, put it on autopilot, Chewie. I got make an 'asteroid field' of my own to make and a princess to sexually harass."

The usual distance between two asteroids is 1-3 million kilometers, making them far more spread apart than the densely clustered ones that we usually see in Hollywood blockbusters. In pictures of space, asteroids look like they're right next to each other ...

Thanks To Movies You're Imagining Asteroid Fields 100% Wrong
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thanks To Movies You're Imagining Asteroid Fields 100% Wrong
NASA

... but these pictures never do a great job of showing scale. By outer space standards, two asteroids being "close" still means they'll probably go their entire existences without ever coming remotely close to colliding. (Plus, they're actually slowly moving away from each other.)

Even with more than a half-million asteroids in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, large collisions are virtually nonexistent. So yes, we're afraid that the classic arcade game Asteroids isn't 100 percent scientifically accurate either (that is, unless we assume the game's ship was 250,000,000 kilometers long).

Even if they're not accurate, asteroid fields sure make for some great art.

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