The best star projectors can either be used as home planetariums, projecting realistic night skies and galaxies indoors, or they can serve as soft, glowy night lights for adults or children.
Depending on the model you choose, star projectors can recreate the night sky accurately from the comfort of your own home, surrounding you with stars, constellations and double as galaxy projectors. Whether you’re hosting a space-themed party, learning about the cosmos or simply looking for a way to help you fall asleep, star projectors can do it all.
Star projectors come in different shapes, specifications and sizes because they serve various purposes. Some models are designed as night lights for children, so they are simpler and prioritize creating a pleasant atmosphere rather than realistic star patterns. On the other hand, there are highly accurate star projectors that provide a scientific representation of the night sky, giving you the experience of being inside a planetarium.
Of course, this variation means that there is a significant difference in price between different star projectors. In this buying guide, we’ve tested, reviewed and ranked a range of models at various price points, with different features, styles and accuracy levels so you can choose the perfect one for you. On a tight budget? We think the Astronaut Starry Sky Star Projector is the best budget star projector in our guide.
If you like the look of any of the star projectors in this guide, keep your eyes peeled on our Amazon Prime Day Hub, as we'll be covering all the best deals.
Blisslights Sky Lite 2.0:
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Save 30% on a star projector we've rated as the best for silent operation. The Sky Lite 2.0 provides pleasing, quiet ambient lighting in galaxy-esque style perfect for kids, gamers and adults who want some color but it isn't accurate of the real night sky.
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Best star projectors 2023
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Best star projectors 2023 ranked
The Sega Toys Homestar Flux is a compact and stylish star projector known for its power and sleek design. It's one of the most expensive options out there but offers a lot in return. The projector uses advanced glass lenses to create realistic night skies that look bright, even in rooms that aren't completely black. It's more like having a home planetarium than a basic star projector and is highly accurate, making it a strong contender for the best galaxy projector. When you adjust the focus, you can see an impressive 60,000 stars, much more than what other projectors offer.
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, 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.
- 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.
Inside the box, you'll find four educational posters, three AA batteries and a 3.5mm jack cable. This cable allows you to connect your smartphone or other audio devices to the projector's small speaker, so you can play your favorite music or sounds while enjoying the view of the stars. It can also function as an FM radio, giving you the option to listen to music or relaxing 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 choose between a whopping 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 were impressed with the speaker's high-quality performance, considering its compact size as a Bluetooth speaker. You also have the option to adjust the sound settings to suit the style of music you're listening to, which is 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.
The Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector is super easy to use with voice control, allowing you to change colors, adjust brightness and control the speed just by speaking. You can also use your smartphone with a Smart App (for Android and iOS) to give commands. The device has a color wheel where you can choose from a wide range of tones, from cool blue to warm fiery red. However, during testing, we found that most of the 16.7 million different colors were hard to tell apart with 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 didn't have high expectations for this seemingly novelty item with a price that can vary greatly between online and in-store retailers. It seems that many retailers are selling it, resulting in price competition among them. However, we would consider anything below $35 to be a great deal and it's 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. While the packaging may be underwhelming and could use some improvements, the actual design and build quality of the projector itself are excellent. It has a great look that would fit well in the home of any space enthusiast, 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 USB-A to 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 newest addition to BlissLights' lineup of 'galaxy lights' and comes with the convenient feature of being voice-controlled through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. This means you can easily change the ambiance of any room without getting up from your seat. Furthermore, you can connect the device to your Wi-Fi network using the BlissLights app, which we found to be more reliable than Bluetooth. This eliminates the need to keep your phone close to the device for it to work properly.
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.
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.
You have the option to purchase additional discs (six for around $50) along with the two that come with it. This model strikes a balance between appealing to both children and adults, and it offers a nice color gradient paint job or a matte white finish for you to choose from. To adjust the image's clarity, simply use the focus wheel, as it may vary based on the surface you're projecting 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; Nebulas, Spacecraft & Astronauts and Planets & the Moon.
Operation is done manually rather than digitally, but you can access additional informative descriptions of the pictures on the slides online using a provided "secret code." Given its affordable price, we think this is a great investment for homeschooling or for 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 comes in a silver and black design and shares the same basic features and projections as its National Geographic counterpart. However, there are some noticeable differences between the two.
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 moved 360-degrees using built-in motors. It works best when projected from a distance of two meters. The lens, made by Bresser, has a focusing wheel that allows for easy image adjustment. Like many star projectors, it can automatically shut down after 30, 60 or 120 minutes, which is useful if it's used by a child who wants to fall asleep under the stars in their bedroom. It also has a 'shooting star' mode, where it projects 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 works similarly to a USB flash drive, but it's not. It's a small star projector that, when connected to a USB power source, creates hundreds of laser stars in a single color (you'd need multiple projectors for different colored lasers). It quickly changes the atmosphere of a room, making it more exciting and dreamlike. 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.
With three ridges on the bottom, you can easily adjust this projector to project at three different angles, including upwards onto a ceiling. It combines an LED and a direct laser diode to create dynamic RGB projections with moving patterns. It's portable and convenient to use thanks to the USB power cable, allowing you to power it from a computer or portable battery.
The 2.0 version of this projector includes the BlissLights smartphone app, which connects via Bluetooth. With the app, you can choose from seven different effects modes, adjust the intensity of the projector, control the brightness of the laser and even set the rotation speed. You also have the option to create your own custom color blend using the app. However, the stars will always appear either green (for the 'Classic Green Stars' variant) or blue (for 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
In comparison to the Atmosphere Smart Galaxy Projector, the Ambience Galaxy & Star Projector has fewer lighting modes available, but it doesn't suffer for it. It offers four colors: blue, green, white and red, and users can blend these colors using the supplied remote control and adjust the brightness to their preference.
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.
As discussed in our Create a Night Sky Projection Kit review, this is a great learning device when assembled with a guardian. The goal is to create a globe-like night sky that shines and projects the constellations. Before moving on to the stars, children learn about the northern and southern hemispheres. Then, they make holes with a sharp tool where the major stars should be, which introduces them to the important stars and constellations in the night sky.
The hardware is simple and straightforward. It consists of a small lamp that operates on 4 x AA batteries (not included) and a square base. The night sky dome, which is assembled and placed over the lamp, has support fixed to each of the four corners. When the lights are turned off, the stars on the globe illuminate and their projection can be seen on 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.
Star projectors Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best star projector?
The Sega Toys Homestar Flux is the best star projector you can buy right now. We’ve tested and reviewed a range of star projectors and concluded that, because it's a premium model, the Homestar Flux projects an incredibly accurate night sky, with the possibility of buying up to 30 extra disks to project the Milky Way, shooting stars, and the aurora.
Are star projectors realistic?
Not all star projectors are accurate - some are designed to be pleasant ambient lights to be used as kids’ night lights or just to create a relaxing atmosphere. However, some models are scientifically accurate and create a planetarium in the comfort of your own home, such as the Sega Toys Homestar Flux, National Geographic Astro Planetarium and Bresser Junior Astro-Planetarium Deluxe.
What is the difference between a star projector and a planetarium?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, star projectors can also be used to refer to unrealistic night and ambient lights that aren’t scientifically accurate. Planetariums on the other hand are strictly realistic and accurate depictions of the night sky, which are sometimes even time- and location-sensitive to show you the night sky in real time.
How do I choose a star projector?
In this buying guide, we’ve tested and reviewed a range of star projectors and ranked them according to quality and budget. We’ve included a variety of options at different price points with a range of features, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs and budget.
Can I leave a star projector on all night?
In theory, yes. Most models of star projectors run from mains AC power or DC through a USB port, so they will run as long as they are plugged in. However, some models are battery-powered, meaning you run the risk of the battery running out of power overnight.
It’s important to check the manual that comes with your star projector before you leave it running for extended periods of time, as some models may become hot after prolonged use. Always resort to the manual if in doubt and follow the instructions.
Are star projectors good for babies?
The star projectors designed as night lights can be good for babies and small children, as they create soothing ambient lighting. However, some models do include swirling light patterns and small flashes of light, so they may not be suitable for babies with light sensitivities or conditions like epilepsy. If in doubt, consult your doctor or local physician before using them.
What are the best star projectors on Amazon?
Most of the star projectors we’ve tested and included in this guide are available to buy on Amazon. Once you’ve made a decision, the links in each section of the buying guide will take you to a website where you can purchase the star projector of your choice safely.
How much do star projectors and home planetariums cost?
Prices vary depending on the model of your choice and how many features you are after. In general, you can buy a star projector for anywhere between $25 and $250. The cheaper models tend to be destined to be used as night lights and are generally inaccurate in their depiction of the night sky. More premium models like the Sega Toys Homestar Flux, however, are more expensive but offer you real-time, scientifically-accurate depictions of the night sky.
Are laser star projectors safe?
The answer to this question depends on the type of star projector you’re considering. Some FDA-approved laser star projectors are safe for brief and accidental exposure to eyes, but they are not recommended for children. Many of the star projectors in our buying guide are LED projectors instead of powered by lasers.
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.
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.