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.
6 star projectors and home planetariums
Sega Toys 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.
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.
National Geographic Astro 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.
Omegon Star Theatre Pro planetarium
The Omegon Star Theatre can focus clearly from distances of just 15cm all the way out to 6.8m, meaning it should be able to create a sharp image in rooms of most sizes.
The LED projection should help to show off even the dimmer stars.
The Star Theatre comes with two slide discs. The first is a depiction of the Milky Way surrounded by 10,000 of the brightest stars in the night sky.
- Buy now from Omegon
Science Kidz Star Projector
The Science Kidz Star Projector displays 10,000 stars visible in the northern hemisphere, including the dense band of the Milky Way.
The device runs on 4xAA batteries, which helps to keep the noise down if you’re using it to relax, and the timer will shut it down after 30 minutes so you don’t drain the battery if you fall asleep.
It comes with two slides of the northern hemisphere – one showing the constellation lines, one without them.
The view of the night sky can be moved by hand to adjust the focus, projection angle and rotation of the image to find the best angle.
This projector also comes with a free CD of astronomy software CyberSky5.
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).
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.
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.
- Buy now from Universe2Go