Best star projectors 2024: From night lights to home planetariums

You've come to the right place if you're in the market for one of the best star projectors. We've rounded up some of our favorite star projectors right here, all of which can project beautiful recreations of the night sky on your walls and ceilings.

Star projectors — or home planetariums, as they're sometimes called — come in various shapes and sizes, and we've included a range of them here, covering different price points, too. Some aim to offer realistic representations of the night sky, which can be useful as educational tools. Others are simply shows of light, modeled on realistic nebulas but nothing more. But with many having built-in speakers, it can be a fantastic way to relax even if the projection isn't based on reality.

When might you use a star projector? Well, whenever, really. We've found that children, in particular, love them, and they can help them relax or fall asleep. Some star projectors can also help children learn about space. That's not to say these are just tools for kids, though. Adults love them just as much, and many grown-ups will use them as a relaxation tool. They're also great to pull out at parties, particularly if you host a space-themed get-together.

In this guide to the best star projectors, you'll find a summary of each projector we've included and a link to a full review. There are links to buy each projector at the best price from trusted retailers and a quick summary of each one's pros and cons.

The quick list

Best star projectors we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Best overall: The most realistic star projector that projects bright, detailed images of the real night sky

Specifications

Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.3 x 5.9-inches (160 x 160 x 150mm)
Weight: 1.36 lbs (616.9g)
Max. size of projection: 8.9 ft (270cm)
Accuracy: True to time and date
Power: USB cable and wall power pack
Special features: 60,000 stars, shooting star mode, extra disks available

Reasons to buy

+
As realistic as it gets
+
Optional upgrade disks
+
Geared towards adults

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
No lens covers
-
Cheaper rivals on the market
Buy it if

✅ You want to explore the skies: There are plenty of discs available for this projector, all of which are scientifically accurate, most of which is NASA-based imagery.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: This is the most expensive option on this list, so if you're on a budget, there are more suitable options that perform almost just as well.

❌ You just want a pretty light: For anyone who just wants a nice mood-setting light, this will likely be overkill.

The bottom line

🔎 Sega Toys Homestar Flux Great for recreating a realistic-looking night sky inside. It's on the pricier end of the market but the option to upgrade your disc collection is attractive. The night sky representation is about as realistic as it gets. ★★★★½

There's no doubt about it: the Sega Toys Homestar Flux is the best star projector you can buy. It's more expensive than most on this list, however, and it can occasionally be hard to get hold of. But if you can afford it and do manage to see it in stock, you won't regret buying it: Very few other star projectors offer the same experience as this.

The Homestar Flux brings true-to-life night skies into your living room. Sporting advanced glass lenses, it's bright and colorful — even in partially lit rooms. It very much is more of a home planetarium than a basic projector, especially thanks to its high scientific accuracy. So accurate, in fact, that it offers displays of up to 60,000 stars. You can adjust the focus, too, ensuring it displays just right on your walls and ceiling.

What sets the Sega Homestar Flux apart is that it can be expanded with different discs, with two included with purchase. One shorts the Northern Hemisphere, and the other is the Northern Hemisphere Constellations, with constellations labelled to aid education.

There are 30 additional discs available for around $18 each 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, nebulas 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. 

Like many other star projectors, there's a 'shooting star' function, although, in our Sega Homestar Flux review, we thought it was a little predictable as the star fell in the same place each time. We'd have liked if there was a bit of variation to it to feel more realistic. It also has an automatic switch-off after 15, 30 or 60 minutes — great if you're using it to fall asleep and don't want to get up to turn it off! 

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Sega Toys Homestar Flux
AttributesNotes
DesignPremium finish and build quality.
PerformanceExcellent brightness, sharp imagery.
FunctionalityVariety of stargazing discs, no novelty lights or lasers.

Best for space-themed parties

Best for space-themed parties: 16.7 million colors to choose from, adjustable brightness settings, compatible with Android and iOS

Specifications

Dimensions: 5.9 x 5.1 x 6.3-inches (150 x 130 x 160mm)
Weight: 1.9 lbs (862g)
Max. size of projection: Unstated
Accuracy: Non-scientific
Power: USB cable and wall power pack
Special features: 16.7 million nebula colors, music rhythm mode, in-built speaker

Reasons to buy

+
Android and iOS compatible
+
Millions of color patterns to choose from
+
Adjustable brightness and movement
+
Great quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Cheaper alternatives are available
-
No voice control
-
Unbranded packaging and device
Buy it if

✅ You want to pair it with music: We were impressed with the musical rhythm mode, where the lights flash and dance along to the beat of the music. 

Don't buy it if:

You want scientific accuracy: It's not a scientifically accurate projection, although that said, it's the most realistic-looking one we've tested.

The bottom line

🔎 Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector It's highly customizable, the patterns are realistic and the music rhythm mode is impressive. This is one of our favorites. ★★★★½

Honestly, we're not sure what we love most about this feature-rich Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector. It might not be scientifically accurate, but it packs in a lot of great features.

Perhaps our favorite thing is just how customizable it is. You can change how visible the stars are, turn on the full moon, and adjust 'Aurora Borealis' colors depending on your mood. There are 16.7 million colors to choose between, and you're able to adjust the LED light and green lasers depending on how vivid you'd like them to be. Oh, and you can control it with the included remote control or on your smartphone via a compatible app.

Phew. That's a lot of stuff, but we've only just scratched the surface. In our Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector review, we talked about the projectors' musical rhythm mode, remarking how much fun it is to listen to music and adjust the lighting display to match the 'feel' of the music. It's a great relaxation tool and creates a wonderful ambience. 

Bluetooth speakers are often of low quality, but we found this speaker to be surprisingly high-quality with excellent sound clarity and detail. The adjustable sound settings are a bonus, allowing you to personalize the sound to your preference and switch to a different music genre.

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Encalife Aurora Borealis Northern Lights Star Projector
AttributesNotes
DesignMatte black finish.
PerformanceRealistic looking aurora.
FunctionalityApp or remote (supplied) controlled.

Best for voice control

Best for voice control: 16.7 million nebula colors, plus in-built voice control with Alexa and Google

Specifications

Dimensions: 11.8 x 5.9 x 11.8-inches (300 x 150 x 300mm)
Weight: 1.9 lbs (862g)
Max. size of projection: Unstated
Accuracy: Non-scientific
Power: USB cable
Special features: 16.7 million nebula colors, voice control, smart app integration

Reasons to buy

+
Voice and app control
+
On/off timer
+
Star and nebula speeds can be controlled separately

Reasons to avoid

-
Not scientifically accurate
-
Not quite 'plug and play'
Buy it if

✅ You want voice activated: You can control this projector using your smart home devices (Alexa & Google etc), meaning you don't have to fiddle with buttons to set the mood.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want it to be scientifically accurate: It doesn't show any constellations or any type of scientific night sky projections — you'll need to pay more for that.

The bottom line

🔎 Encalife Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Star Projector: Although it is called a Galaxy Star Projector, like most others, this is more of a mood-setting light, showing colors and patterns that reflect galaxies and nebulas with lasers that you could associate with a starry sky. ★★★★

During our Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector review, we were impressed by its sleek design, which will delight many. It's modern and compact, allowing users to place it anywhere in the house without ruining the aesthetic and sticking out like a sore thumb. The unit can be adjusted to four angles, making it flexible enough to project onto the wall or ceiling. 

We particularly enjoy how easy the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector is to use and set up — one feature that makes it stand out is its voice control options. You can use your voice to change its colors, adjust its brightness, and even control the speed of projection rotation. It's compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant, too. You don't have to talk to it if you don't want to, of course: There's a smartphone app you can download on iOS or Android.

The Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector boasts 16.7 million colors, which is great on paper. And while you can certainly change the color to just about anything in the spectrum, you'll likely struggle to distinguish anywhere near as many with the naked eye. Not that that should put you off, though: It still offers a fantastic light display.

The only thing to note about the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector is that the nebulas and stars aren't scientifically accurate. However, if you're looking for a beautiful light display, you'll be delighted with it. We enjoyed the experience so much that we didn't feel disappointed. We especially liked the ability to adjust both brightness and projection speed, making it perfect for creating a serene environment to relax in or an energetic party scene.

The Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector has a USB power cable and attractive packaging, which would be lovely to receive as a gift.

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Encalife Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Star Projector
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact design and shape, premium feel.
PerformanceBright & vivid colors, responsive controls.
FunctionalityHighly customizable.

Best budget star projector

Best budget star projector: An excellent gift for a space fan of any age

Specifications

Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.4 x 8.9-inches (120 x 113 x 228mm)
Weight: 1.4 lbs (640g)
Max. size of projection: Unstated
Accuracy: Non-scientific
Power: USB-A to DC port
Special features: Novelty design