Standing under a dark-sky and looking up at the constellations above is one of the joys of astronomy, but it’s not always possible to get out and observe every night through a telescope.

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For those nights you can’t venture out, star projectors and planetariums are a great item of home decor for any astronomy or space fan, offering a way to turn the walls of any living room or bedroom into a glorious night sky, giving new meaning to the term ‘home’ observatory.

Many of these star projectors offer up views of the brightest stars in the night sky, helping you learn your way around the constellations before heading off to search for true dark skies.

Perhaps you’re no longer able to go out and observe the stars yourself or are after a space themed gift for the kids. Or maybe you want a relaxing light show to help you drift off to sleep.

Whatever you’re after, there’s a star projector to suit.

These home planetariums work by shining a light through a slide and using a lens to focus it on the walls of your home.

The ones listed here all come with slides intended to mimic the actual constellations and can be rotated (either automatically or by hand) to show different views of the night sky.

The angle and focus can be adjusted to best fit your space. These projectors are designed to give a subtle lighting effect, so are best shown off in a darkened room.

Here are six of the options available on the market today. If you fancy making your own, read our guide on how to make a planetarium projector.

Read our guide to the best telescopes for kids

Star projectors and home planetariums

Sega Toys Homestar Flux

Sega Homestar Flux

The SEGA Toys Homestar Flux is capable of showing 60,000 stars, and comes with two slide discs depicting the constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere.

A further 30 full colour discs are available, showing the Milky Way, the planets, the Andromeda Galaxy and more.

The 5-watt bulb shines with a white-light to protect the colour fidelity of the slides.

The motor that rotates the view is designed to be as quiet as possible so you can use the projector to help lull you to sleep, and the adjustable timer will even turn off the device for you once you’ve nodded off.

LaView Star Projector

This projector uses eight lenses to create incredible, lifelike images of the night sky onto your walls.

Again, this uses disc slides including a gloriously detailed 6K representation of the Milky Way and three brightness settings, meaning you can crank up the brightness when you want to marvel at the night sky.

Then, when you want to use it as a sleep aid, you can dim the settings and turn on the 10, 30 or 60 minute timer that will turn it off for you once you’ve nodded off under the stars.

And if you fancy something a bit more colourful, then there’s a green laser which you can set to grant you your own personal light show.

It’s design based on the crescent Moon, meaning its sleek enough for an adult living room, but with enough whimsy to suit a space-loving child’s bedroom.
It can be rotated up and down by 90º to find the best orientation for projecting it on your room’s walls.

It is, however, a little expensive, and does not have additional functionality (such as functioning as an audio player) that many other higher end star projectors do.

National Geographic Astro Planetarium

National Geographic Planetarium

As well as watching the star show, you can listen to it as well, as the National Geographic Astro Planetarium comes with a speaker.

Either play the in-built FM radio, or connect it to a digital musical player for your own choice of background music (or perhaps the latest episode of the Radio Astronomy podcast).

The device is supplied with two slides showing the night sky: one with annotations of the constellations and one without.

There are dials to set the time and date, which will adjust the view accordingly. The rotation speed of the night sky can also be adjusted. Select 'shooting star' mode to add meteors shooting across the view.

Popular Science Star lamp projector

Despite its strange appearance, this is actually a star projector!

The projector comes as a kit designed to promote STEAM learning, and requires you to put together the electronic components as well as assembling the stand and shade (requires a Philip’s head screwdriver).

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Once put together, the lamp takes the form of a black dodecahedron, the sides of which are pierced with 2000 holes in the shape of the constellations.

The central lamp then shines through these, casting the image of the constellations onto your walls.

Universe2Go

Universe2Go

Rather than turning your entire room into a planetarium, this device instead creates your own virtual VR planetarium using your smartphone.

Download the free app then slot it into the Universe2Go headset to see the heavens appear before your eyes in 3D.

Universe2Go can either be used as a totally virtual device or you can remove the window cover to see the constellation lines and information projected on the actual night sky.

Brainstorm Space home planetarium and projector

Transform your child’s room into a glorious tour through outer space using this device which doubles as both a planetarium and a projector.

One end features a changeable dome that can either be set to show the stars of the night sky or the constellations as they rotate across your ceiling and walls.

Flip around to the projector end, however, and you can display one of 24 NASA colour images, featuring nebulae, planets, astronauts and more.

The images come on three disks each with eight images each.

Kidzlabs Create a Night Sky science kit

Want to learn about the stars and have a fun practical project? Then this projection kit might be the option for you.

The kit comes with the pieces needed to create a spherical-ish projection dome showing the stars of the northern and southern hemisphere.

These then slot into the easy to assemble base, containing a light bulb that will shine through the holes of the domes to project the stars onto the walls of your home.

A great STEM activity for a children and adults alike that leaves you with a beautiful lighting piece.

This Book is a Planetarium

Another great STEM activity for kids who love space, this pop-up book comes with six fully functioning tools, including a working planetarium to project the stars and constellations.

The pop-up planetarium gives a 3D structure perforated with the major constellations of the northern hemisphere, then instructs you to turn on the torch of a smartphone and place it inside to project the stars across the walls of a darkened room.

If your space-loving child then tires of the night sky, there are five other tools to investigate: a stringed musical instrument, a geometric drawing generator, an infinite calendar, a message decoder and an amplifying speaker.

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Each page has short explanation of the science behind each tool, so you can learn while playing.

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