To tell you that The Rise of Skywalker had some references to past Star Wars films would be an understatement. It’s full of them. So it’s no surprise that you probably didn’t catch them all, but here’s an interesting one you most likely missed.
At the beginning of A New Hope, after the iconic yellow title crawl disappears, we are left with the empty blackness of space, with the many starts shining brightly. Meaningless, right? Not anymore. In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the newly restored emperor lights up the sky with a tree of force lightning. Then the camera continues to pan up, as we move beyond the lightning and as Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, we can just see the empty blackness of space. That empty blackness doesn’t seem so meaningless after all.
Yes, the starfield seen in this scene in The Rise of Skywalker is the exact starfield from the beginning of A New Hope, where it all started. Of all JJ’s callbacks to any of the past films, this was arguably the most significant, as it really does what the whole movie was trying to do – end the saga perfectly, finish where it all started. Similar to the final scene where Rey and BB-8 stand facing the twin sunset (reminiscing Luke doing the same in A New Hope as well as his aunt and uncle at the end of Revenge of the Sith), but far less prominent and noticeable.