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These are my three favorite star projectors for bringing the night sky inside

Here's my pick of the best star projectors -- including with photos of their simulated or realistic projections.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

At the end of the day, when the sun sets and we get into the evening hours, I like to engage in relaxing activities, which include retreating into my home bar and having a cocktail or sitting on my back patio and listening to music. But if you live in a congested, urbanized area in South Florida like myself, you can't enjoy the natural wonders of the night sky. 

We don't get many visible stars on most evenings due to heavy light pollution and frequent thick cloud cover during thunderstorm season from May through October. To solve this problem, I looked at a few different star projector products for lighting up the ceiling with simulated stars and other astronomical formations. Here are my picks.


Pros & Cons
  • "Real" home planetarium experience
  • High-quality build and components
  • Designed in conjunction with Japanese astronomer/engineer Takayuki Ohira
  • No Bluetooth or WiFi integration with Alexa, Google, or Siri
  • No way to control it remotely
  • Most expensive product on our list
More Details


  • Attractive spherical satin black industrial design only 16cm wide and 620g in weight (1.36 lbs)
  • 5W warm white LED for projecting the optical image.
  • Smooth focus dial allowing for projection distances of as small as 120 cm to 290 cm (3'11" to 9'5")
  • Northern or Southern Diurnal rotation
  • Silent operation when rotating the star field
  • Integrated "shooting star" for enhancing the projected image with periodic meteoroids
  • Removable disc platter for use with Homestar optical images
  • Integrated timer for 15-minute, 30-minute, and 1-hour sessions and 3-hour automatic shutoff 
  • 2 Optical discs included, a Northern Hemisphere night sky and a Northern Hemisphere night sky with constellations, with over 60,000 stars projected simultaneously
  • USB-powered for use with portable battery units

If you're looking to represent a night sky for an authentic home planetarium experience, the Sega Toys Homestar Flux is your answer. However, it's also the most expensive product on our list at $259.

Why is this product so expensive? We can start with the build quality and components. 

Using a patented photographic process similar to microfiche, the Homestar Flux uses analog removable discs with very high resolution, simultaneously showing as many as a million distinct stars. The product was designed in conjunction with Japanese astronomer/engineer Takayuki Ohira (TED Talk), the inventor of the Megastar, a professional laser-based planetarium projector that can show the most stars in the world. Sega (via its Sivesco subsidiary) has been in the home planetarium business since 2006. There are also third parties that also make discs for the unit besides Sega, such as Miller Engineering

In addition to star fields, Sega also sells Homestar discs representing other astronomical formations, such as nebulas, galaxies, planets, and even jellyfish. I like using this product in the bedroom or on my covered patio because it's most usable at night in a very dark room, and its light projector is bright enough to see the star formations but not so bright as a laser that will keep you up at night. 

The integrated timer is also suitable for listening to a sleep story for apps like Calm, which have 30-minute audio segments. Unfortunately, you can't integrate the two because this product is purely mechanical, and there's no Bluetooth or WiFi integration with Alexa, Google, or Siri. There's also no way to control it remotely -- you have it set for "on" or in 15-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute sessions.

Northern Night Sky with Constellations using the SEGA Homestar Flux Star Projector

Northern Night Sky with Constellations using the SEGA Homestar Flux Star Projector

Image: Jason Perlow/ZDNET
SEGA Homestar Galaxy Disc

SEGA Homestar Flux / Galaxy Disc

Jason Perlow/ZDNET
Pros & Cons
  • Bargain unit with accurate star projections
  • Knockoff of the Sega Homestar Flux
  • For relaxation purposes, it works great
  • LED projector is only a fraction as powerful as the Sega unit
  • You aren't getting as high-definition an image
More Details


  • Attractive spherical industrial design only 12cm wide and 771g in weight (1.7 lbs)
  • 1W warm white LED for projecting the optical image
  • Smooth focus dial
  • Counter-clockwise rotation
  • 30-degree tilt adjustable from base
  • 8-foot projection distance, 130 square roof projection area, 13ft image diameter
  • Silent operation when rotating the star field
  • Removable disc platter for use with POCOCO optical images (sold in packs of 5 for $49)
  • Integrated timer for 15-minute, 30-minute, and 1-hour sessions and auto-off at 2 hours.
  • USB chargeable and up to 6 hours of continuous use from the battery

If you are looking for a star projector with accurate star projections, complete with removable optical discs,  but don't want something too expensive, I'd recommend the Pococo, which is effectively a more affordable knockoff of the Homestar Flux. It has some unique features, including the fact that it is Lithium Ion battery-powered and can run for up to six hours at a time on a single charge. 

I also feel that it is a bargain at $99 for what the device does.

While I think the device is excellent for use in a bedroom (and in conjunction with apps like Calm), I don't think it's ideal for a larger living room or a patio because the LED projector is only a fraction as powerful as the Sega unit. Additionally, the optical discs that Pococo sells are perhaps a quarter of the size of the SEGA, so you aren't getting as high-definition an image, but for relaxation purposes, it works great.

Pococo star projection

Pococo star projection (Kaitlin - user review)

Image: Amazon
Pococo star projection

Pococo star projection (Julie - user review)

Image: Amazon
Pros & Cons
  • Inexpensive ($50 or less)
  • "Nebula" combo laser and optical image projector
  • Fantastic for accent or party lighting
  • There are many similar or even rebadged products at this price point
More Details


  • Galaxy light/starry sky "nebula" cloud projector
  • Wi-Fi-enabled, voice assistant (Alexa, Google) integration, and home automation support.
  • An app for fine-tuning the laser and nebula light intensity, color palettes, and scheduling.
  • USB-powered, so you can use it independently of a wall socket with portable battery units.

For my home bar, I wanted something that would be more for entertainment rather than for relaxation purposes. I also was not so concerned with accurate depictions of the night sky. So, the star projector I ended up choosing was the Panamalar. It's under $35 with a promotion at Amazon.

Honestly, there are many similar products at this price point (I mention a couple later in this guide). Most of these units differ primarily in the shape of their plastic housing, and some are decorated with lights themselves. I chose this particular star projector because it was easily placed on a shelf and was unobtrusive. 

If you look up "sky projector" or "laser star projector" on Amazon, you will find an entire category of products that are all very similar in design to the Panamalar. Most, if not all, appear to be made from a Chinese-built reference product and rebadged under different brands and even use nearly identical apps to control them. 

They're all under $50, and they offer the following projection experiences:

  • Laser-simulated star projector: This uses a bright green laser diode with a diffracting mirror to split the light into thousands of smaller beams to create a rotating simulated star field. 
  • Rotating optical nebula projection with multi-colored lights: This is a static, rotating image of a nebula star formation illuminated with a range of colors that can be set to progress through pre-configured and user-definable color "scenes." The nebula projection can be combined with the green laser star field, or each can be chosen individually.

These inexpensive star projectors are fantastic for accent or party lighting, and they are honestly a great deal at this price point. However, I find they aren't particularly good for relaxation purposes -- mostly due to the intensity of their lasers and their inability to represent an actual night sky.

Laser/Nebula projector

Home bar illuminated by inexpensive Laser/Nebula projector

Image: Jason Perlow/ZDNET

What is the best star projector?

The Homestar Flux is my pick for the most premium option if you want the "real" home planetarium experience. However, for my home bar, I was not so concerned with accurate depictions of the night sky, so I chose the Panamalar to use as inexpensive party lighting in that space. 

Star projector


Accurate star or night sky depictions?

Sega Toys Homestar Flux

Around $259


Pococo Home Planetarium Star Projector

Around $99


Panamalar Nebula Star Projector

Around $35 (with promotions on Amazon)


Which star projector is right for you?

It depends on your budget and what you want, but here is a quick decision matrix that might help you:

Choose this star projector…

If you want…

Sega Toys Homestar Flux

A premium and authentic home planetarium experience

Pococo Home Planetarium Star Projector

A more affordable knockoff of the Homestar Flux

Panamalar Nebula Star Projector

An inexpensive star projector for accent or party lighting

How did we choose these star projectors?

I've purchased a couple of star projectors myself, but I've also considered all the options available. I had to decide whether I wanted an accurate star projector experience, the amount I wanted to spend, what I wanted to use the star projector for (like for entertainment or relaxation), and finally, where I wanted it to go in my home. Considering all those factors, I found three projectors worth buying (well, a couple of alternatives, too). 

What is a star projector?

A star projector is a device that projects an image of stars onto the ceiling or wall. It typically consists of a small motor and a disc with printed star patterns, which rotates to project the stars onto the surface. Star projectors are often used for educational purposes or to create a calming atmosphere in bedrooms, making them popular among children and adults.

Are there any alternative star projectors worth considering?

If you liked the Panamalar Nebula Star Projector, other major vendors of that design include Blisslights, which makes it in different style housings and colors to fit your decor. 

Some of the more expensive models, such as the LaView, include removable optical discs so you can have more than one projected scene other than the basic nebula. Still, I would say if you are going to opt for a replaceable disc unit, to look at Sega's product or the Pococo.

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