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A special effect sequence in the original Star Wars (1977) shows the planet Alderaan being blown up by the Death Star (frame shown below). Considering that this was the pre-digital era, I thought the explosion was really well done. How did they do it?

Alderaan Blown Up (1977)

Obviously some pyrotechnics were used, but what were they to make such a cool looking explosion?

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You can see the original, unaltered clip here:

If you're interested in all the special effects, there's a great documentary called Empire Of Dreams.

It was basically comprised of a scale model which was blown up, against a blue screen so the space background could be added later.

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    Ok, but what were the pyrotechnics specifically? – Tyler Durden Dec 2 '14 at 4:37
  • @TylerDurden - Bottle rockets. They put a whole bunch in a huge papermache piñata, then waited until the planet blew. – Clockwork-Muse Dec 2 '14 at 12:01
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I eventually found out that it was done using an ordinary black powder exposion in slightly slow motion.

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