The best star projectors can replicate the night sky indoors by either projecting a realistic-looking cosmos on your walls or ceiling like home planetariums or by softly glowing in use as a night light for adults or children.
With star projectors, you can recreate the wonder of the night sky at home without having to leave the house. Full of stars, constellations and galaxies, star projectors can create an immersive experience that can spark imagination, add a fun vibe to a party or games room, or help you drift off to sleep. They can be a great substitute for a night light if your child is afraid of the dark, especially if they have timers that turn off the projector after they've fallen asleep.
They are all easy to set up and use, but star projectors come in many shapes and sizes — some more geared towards children — and with various levels of scientific accuracy (or no scientific accuracy at all). The price brackets from one model to the next can be vast too, even when there isn't much to tell them apart.
Models that are more budget-friendly concentrate on filling rooms with color and texture to add atmosphere. Whereas, more expensive versions focus on a more scientific planetarium-style experience.
We've tested, reviewed and ranked all the star projectors we could get our hands on from a range of price points, styles and levels of sophistication to help you make informed purchasing decisions.
Best star projectors 2023
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Best star projectors 2023 ranked
The Sega Toys Homestar Flux, a compact star projector in satin black, is one of the most powerful and sleek star projectors on the market. However, it is also one of the most expensive, with the ambition to match. We found that the Homestar Flux's multilevel glass lenses produce realistic-looking night skies from the comfort of your home and are plenty bright, even for rooms that aren't completely black. It is more of a home, scientific planetarium than a simple star projector. After adjusting the focus to suit your projection surface, you'll see 60,000 stars — many more than its competitors.
This globe-shaped product excels with the sheer number of distinct stars it projects, and it has some tempting science-based upgrade options. The Homestar Flux has two discs, the Northern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere Constellations. One shows a starry sky with 60,000 stars while the other contains constellation labels to aid with learning. A further 17 Sega-branded disks are available to be purchased separately for around $18 a piece, and it's also compatible with Homestar Original disks.
Like many other star projectors, there's a 'shooting star' function, although, in our Sega Homestar Flux review, we explained how we'd like this to be at random intervals, or in a different place each time so it isn't as predictable. It has an automatic switch-off after 15, 30 or 60 minutes function.
There are 30 additional discs available when you visit Astrial, Sega Toys' official online store. Simulations of the aurora borealis and the aurora australis are perhaps the highlights. There is a disc that displays the planets of the solar system as well, but it is the ones that show galaxies, nebulae, and other NASA-based imagery that really stand out. For example, the North America nebula as taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the weird seven-star system called Jabbah (officially called Nu Scorpii and IC 4592) as imaged by NASA's WISE mission. You can also buy disks that simulate fireworks, 'night jellyfish' and a hot-air balloon festival.
- Read our full Sega Toys Homestar Flux star projector review
The National Geographic Astro Planetarium is a high-quality indoor planetarium for a reasonable price that accurately represents the night sky and comes with plenty of extras. There are two projection discs included; one displays 8,000 stars, and the other has guidelines for the major constellations overlaid on them. Crucially, what you see is true to the time and day you set it, as we confirmed during our National Geographic Astro Planetarium review.
Rotating the image and adjusting the focus wheel in the dark is simple thanks to the blue-illuminated buttons. The result is a bright and sharp projection on the ceiling (the optics are from the German optics brand Bresser, which makes binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes). However, stars at the edge of the projection can seem blurry. One novel feature is an optional 'falling star' mode, which projects a flashing meteor every 40 seconds, though always in the same place.
In the box are four educational posters, three AA batteries, and a 3.5 mm jack cable that can hook up a smartphone or other audio device to play through this star projector's small mono speaker. It also acts as an FM radio if you want to listen to music or soothing sounds while you stargaze indoors.
- Read our full National Geographic Astro Planetarium review
Once again, we're not sure what we love most about this feature-rich Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector. You can easily select among 16.7 million Aurora colors by using the buttons on the device, the remote control that comes with it, or your smartphone to control it.
This Northern Lights projector is compatible with all Android and IOS smartphones. You can customize the visibility of the stars, full moon activation and the 'Aurora Borealis' colors to suit your mood. The LED light and green lasers are adjustable from barely visible to highly vivid.
During our Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector review, we were impressed with the musical rhythm mode. It does a great job of altering the lighting display to match the "feel" of the music, and the sensitivity of the microphone can be adjusted for a more or less powerful light display, making it perfect for parties.
We thought the speaker is surprisingly high quality for a small Bluetooth speaker, you can even change the sound settings to complement the style of music you are listening to — a nice touch.
We don't know what we love most about the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector from Encalife: The exquisite 16.7 million nebula colors to choose from or the ability to control this projector with our voice with Alexa and Google.
During our Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector review we were impressed by its sleek design that's sure to delight many: it's modern and compact, which allows the user to place it pretty much anywhere in the household without ruining the aesthetic. The unit can even be adjusted to four different angles, making it flexible enough to project from your selected surface onto the wall or ceiling.
Not only is the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector easy to sync up for seamless voice control, but you can also change the colors, modify brightness and adjust the speed just by speaking. There's also the option to issue commands through your smartphone after pairing with a Smart App (compatible with Android and iOS). It's here where things get even more impressive: using the color wheel on your device, you can slide through various tones, from cool blue to warm fiery red. What's more, there's a blend of 16.7 million hues to choose from but we found during testing that those 16.7 million different colors are hard to distinguish to the naked eye.
The only downside with the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector is that the nebulas and stars aren't scientifically accurate. Still, we enjoyed the experience so much that we didn't feel short-changed. We were especially happy with the option to adjust both the brightness and the projection speed, which makes the device great for setting a calm environment or an energetic party scene.
The Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector comes with a USB power cable and attractive packaging, which would be lovely to receive as a gift.
- Read our full Encalife Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Star Projector review
To be honest, when we managed to get our hands on this little guy for our Astronaut Starry Sky Star Projector Review, we weren't expecting much from what appears to be a novelty item with a price that vastly fluctuates between online and in-store retailers. This is probably because so many retailers are selling it, there seems to be a 'price war' between them. We'd consider anything less than $35 a bargain and definitely one of the best cheap star projectors on this list.
This is the only novelty-shaped item in this guide so far, and that is because, often, such things aren't very good quality — but this is an exception. The packaging is a bit disappointing and would benefit from having a redesign, but the design and build quality of the projector itself is fantastic and it wouldn't look out of place in any space lover's house, regardless of their age.
The operation of the motor is very smooth and quiet, so it would be fine as a night light to drift off to sleep. As we mentioned in our review, the lighting module seems to be the same — if just a tiny bit less impressive — as other star projectors we have reviewed, including the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 and the Encalife Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Star Projector. They are by no means scientific, but they can be customized using the supplied remote control to a speed and color configuration to suit you.
The only thing we didn't like was that it is powered by DC cable, which seems a little outdated (we'd prefer USB-C), but aside from that, it would make an excellent gift for any space lover for any occasion.
The Evolve is the most recent of BlissLights 'galaxy lights' and has the added function of being controlled using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa using just your voice. You can adjust the 'feel' of any room in the house without leaving your seat. Additionally, you can use the BlissLights app to connect the device via your wifi network, which we've found to be more reliable than Bluetooth and doesn't require your phone to be kept close to the device in order to work.
The spherical design means you have near 360-degree angling, and it comes with a 1.5 m cable, giving maximum positioning flexibility. This gives it a slight edge over the Encalife Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Smart Projector, which has similar specs but can only be used in four fixed positions.
An upgrade from the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 mentioned above is the inclusion of patented color blending technology. Instead of using harsh color blocks to fill a projection space up to 15ft x 15ft, the four LED lamps allow for more color possibilities, and the colors "blend" so they look softer and give off a more pastel and relaxing yet immersive environment.
Your space (up to 30ft x 30ft) can be transformed into an ethereal sensory experience by turning on the laser "stars" and gazing for hours at the calming changing patterns.
As we confirmed in our BlissLights Evolve review, like the Sky Lite 2.0, the operation is near silent. The Bliss Lights Sky Lite Evolve would be perfect in a gaming room, during a party, at a movie night or as a relaxation tool to unwind or drift off to sleep with. There are three models in the range available — options with blue lasers, green lasers or without lasers.
- Read our full BlissLights Sky Lite Evolve review
Despite some questionable word choices for their marketing, the Pococo Galaxy Star Projector is a worthy addition to this guide and it is a good rival to the National Geographic Astro Planetarium and the much more expensive Sega Homestar Flux. During our full Pococo Galaxy star projector review we found it to be a good value star projector with decent build and projection quality.
There is an option to buy more discs (six for around $50) in addition to the two that come with it. We think this sits in the middle of both models mentioned above in terms of being aesthetically attractive to either children or adults, thanks to its nice color gradient paint job or matte white finish; you can purchase either. You use the focus wheel to adjust the clarity of the image as this will change depending on the surface you're shining the light onto.
Control is simple, using three buttons — power, rotation and sleep timer — and it is powered by a battery which you can charge with a USB-C cable. You're not tied to a power source like with the Homestar Flux, and you don't have to keep changing the batteries as you do with the National Geographic model—again — another happy medium.
The downside of the Pococo design is that you only have 30 degrees of movement to shine the lights, though as you'll typically be shining this at the ceiling, this isn't a deal breaker.
- Read our full Pococo Galaxy star projector review
Having completed a recent Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector review, we feel that it deserves a spot in this buying guide as a great STEM toy that will captivate kids ages six and up, and, in our opinion, spark their interest in all things space-related.
It is aimed at children, and the stars aren't at all scientific like you would find on the more 'adult' Sega Homestar Flux. Still, it features a slide projector and three easy-to-handle discs containing 24 color images taken by NASA and the Hubble Telescope. Each disc has a theme; Nebulae, Spacecraft & Astronauts, and Planets & the Moon.
Operation is hands-on rather than digital, although additional informative descriptions of the pictures on the slides can be accessed online using a supplied 'secret code.' Considering the low price, we think this is an excellent investment for homeschooling or simply learning about space with your child.
As we discussed in our Bresser Junior Astro-Planetarium Deluxe review, this star projector draws many parallels to the Bresser-made National Geographic Astro Planetarium but doesn't include an integrated FM radio or the ability to attach an audio device. The Bresser Junior can only be powered by 3 x AA batteries so buyers will likely need to grab some spares if they plan on using it long-term.
This model, which is offered in a silver and black chassis, has the same basic features and projections, and functions in the same manner as its National Geographic counterpart, but there are some noticeable differences.
The same Astro Planetarium Multimedia disks are included — one featuring a starry night sky and the other featuring overlays of constellations, and it's all entirely accurate for the time and day you're using it.
The image can be rotated in its stand and through 360-degrees using built-in motors and is best utilized to project from a distance of two meters. The lens was made by Bresser, and it has a focusing wheel around it for relatively simple image adjustment. Like many star projectors, it can be set to automatically shut down after 30, 60 or 120 minutes, which is useful if it's intended for a child who wants to fall asleep under the stars in their bedroom. It's also got a 'shooting star' mode, which can be activated to project a 'meteor' every 40 seconds.
This is an unusual entry on our list, given that it only has one single function. That said, we have included it in this guide as an inexpensive 'faff-free' star projector, though as we discussed in our BlissLights Starport USB star projector review, we use the term star projector loosely.
It looks, feels and operates like a USB flash drive, but it isn't. It is a tiny star projector that, when connected to a USB power source, produces hundreds of single-color laser stars (you would need to buy more than one if you wanted to choose between multiple color lasers), quickly transforming the entire "feel" of a room into something more thrilling and ethereal. Gamers will love it.
It serves no other purpose or provides any kind of scientific accuracy, but it is a discrete, affordable, high-quality device that puts out visually stunning lasers to transform your surroundings while drawing very little power.
Imagine being immersed within a star cluster or drifting through a nebula. If you want scientific accuracy, look elsewhere, as what you get with the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 is a hypnotic ambient experience that makes up for in creativity what it lacks in scientific rigor.
Designed for home offices, home cinemas, gaming rooms, spas, bedrooms and house parties, this laser-powered 'galaxy projector' takes viewers on a journey through multicolored clouds. When we reviewed the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 review, we found it very easy to set up and liked its easy operation.
Thanks to the three ridges on the bottom, it can be adjusted to project in three different angles, including upwards onto a ceiling. It uses an LED and a direct laser diode, which together create motion-filled RGB projections. Portability is further helped by a USB power cable, which means the Sky Lite 2.0 can be powered by a computer or from a portable battery.
The 2.0 version also comes with the BlissLights smartphone app, which enables Bluetooth connectivity and allows users to select from seven built-in effects modes, adjust the projector's intensity, the laser's brightness and the rotation speed. You can also use the app to create a custom color blend. However, stars are always either green (if you buy the 'Classic Green Stars' variant) or blue (if you buy the 'Cobalt Blue Stars' variant).
Unlike some other models, we found it to be near silent in its operation, which is great if you're using it to get to sleep or whilst watching a film.
The Sky Lite 2.0 is best compared to the likes of a lava lamp in terms of what it tries to achieve. This star projector delivers if a hypnotic journey through an imaginary nebula (or aurora?) is the effect you're after.
- Read our full BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 star projector review
Compared to the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector, the Ambience Galaxy & Star Projector doesn't offer as many lighting modes, but it doesn't suffer for it. Featuring four colors — blue, green, white and red — users can blend the shades via supplied remote control and adjust the brightness to suit.
We were impressed with the high-quality build of this compact star projector. Its sleek black color helps it to blend in with many home decors, and on top of that, it also functions as a music player, enabling users to listen to their favorite music or sounds as they watch celestial shadows dance across the ceiling and walls. When we reviewed the Encalife Ambience Galaxy and Star Projector, we found the speaker to be surprisingly high quality and audibly well-rounded. Despite the poor quality packaging, the unit itself is well-built and the lights are bright enough to create the desired ambiance or party atmosphere.
You will need to set up your phone's Bluetooth before you begin, but this is a seamless experience, with the device being up and running within moments.
Like the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector, you won't get scientific accuracy, but you'll get a fantastic 'insomnia-busting' experience that allows your children (or yourself) to sleep better at night.
- Read our full Encalife Ambience Galaxy and Star Projector review
Ever wondered how to make a star projector? Sold as the 4M Night Sky Projection Kit, (or in the U.K. as the Science Museum Create A Night Sky) this cardboard cut-out might not seem at first to be a worthy addition to our list of the best star projectors. After all, what's on offer here is merely some tiny holes in cardboard positioned over a lamp. The resulting image is pretty basic, of course, but how you get there is the clever part.
This is a great learning device when assembled with a guardian, as we discussed in our Create a Night Sky Projection Kit review. The aim is to build a globe-like night sky that lights up and projects the constellations. Before we even get to the stars, children are introduced to the concept of the northern and southern hemispheres. Then they need to create holes (using a sharp tool) where the major stars are — hence being introduced to the major stars and constellations in the night sky.
The hardware is pretty basic — a small lamp that requires 4 x AA batteries (not included) on a square base. With a support fixed to each of the four corners, you place the assembled night sky dome over the lamp. With the lights switched off, the stars are both lit up on the globe itself and projected onto the walls and ceiling. There are drawbacks, of course; the printed stars and constellations are back-to-front to ensure an accurate (but somewhat blurry) projection. It's all fairly fiddly and time-consuming, but that's the point since it makes for an effective and affordable learning device. Just don't expect anything more to result than a time filler and a novelty night light for a child's bedroom.
We've noticed the price fluctuates dramatically so we'd recommend not spending more than $15 on this item.
How we test the best star projectors
To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best star projectors to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every star projector through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each star projector is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as a star projector and whether it provides accurate night sky imagery.
Each star projector is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each star projector and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use. For example, comparing a top-of-the-range star projector from one of the largest producers of star projectors to a make-your-own kit made from cardboard wouldn’t be appropriate, though each star projector might be the best-performing product in its own class.
1. If you want it to be scientific, look for a simulation according to the actual time and day.
2. The smaller the room, the sharper the stars will look.
3. Check how many disks come with each product or if you can purchase add-ons.
4. Choose a model with automatic shut-off if using it as a night light.
5. Decide if you want to control it with a remote or an app
We look at how easy each star projector is to operate, whether it contains night sky imaging technology if a device can synchronize with audio and we'll also make suggestions if a particular star projector would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.
With complete editorial independence, Space.com is here to ensure you get the best buying advice on star projectors, advising on whether you should purchase a product, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.
Star projectors FAQ
What is the best star projector?
The best star projector is the Sega Toys Homestar Flux due to its high-end, premium finish, excellent projection clarity and incredibly accurate night sky disks. It also has over 30 optional disks including the milky way galaxy, shooting stars and scenic views with the aurora.
Are star projectors realistic?
Some star projectors, like the Sega Toys Homestar Flux, National Geographic Astro Planetarium and Bresser Junior Astro-Planetarium Deluxe are scientifically accurate and work like home planetariums. However, there are many that work best as children's night lights, project ambient colors and textures for relaxing or create atmosphere for gamers and streamers or parties.
Are star projectors good for babies?
As a night light or soothing star projector these devices can be good for babies. But be aware that some projectors can create whirling and slight flashes so babies with light or vision sensitivity or conditions like epilepsy may be better without a star projector.
Some models also whir and hum as they project so if your baby or young child is a light sleeper you may want to stick to some of the silent models listed above, notably the: Blisslights Sky Lite 2.0, BlissLights Sky Lite Evolve or Sega Toys Homestar Flux.
Are laser star projectors safe?
Yes and no, depending on the type of star projector. For brief and accidental exposure to eyes, FDA-approved laser star projectors are safe to use but are not recommended for children. Many star projectors in our list do not feature lasers and instead rely on LED projection.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that 'The FDA recognizes four major hazard classes (I to IV) of lasers, including three subclasses (IIa, IIIa, and IIIb). The higher the class, the more powerful the laser is and the greater the potential to pose serious injury if used improperly.'
In reference to Class IIIa lasers (like laser pointers or some used in star projectors) the FDA says: 'Depending on power and beam area, can be momentarily hazardous when directly viewed or when staring directly at the beam with an unaided eye. Risk of injury increases when viewed with optical aids.'
If in doubt, check the laser classification on the device before purchasing and check it against the FDA rules, or relevant health and safety body in your region.
What are the best star projectors on Amazon?
Almost all of the star projectors we've tested and reviewed are available to purchase on Amazon. Take a look through our buying guide to decide which one is right for you, before using our links to purchase.
How much do star projectors and home planetariums cost?
Prices vary between $25 and $250 depending on which model you purchase. Novelty, fun star projectors with little night sky accuracy like the Astronaut Starry Sky Star Projector can be purchased for around $35 or cheaper, but premium models like the Sega Toys Homestar Flux are much more expensive.