Our Top Pick for 2018: Uncle Milton Star Theatre Pro
Read our full review.
Carl Sagan once said, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it, we go nowhere”, and at no time is the imagination as easily sparked as when we are gazing at the stars in a clear night sky. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t always get a clear view of the sky because of things like light pollution or simply being indoors. Luckily, there is device that will pose a solution to this issue: a star projector. Star projectors will project a field of stars onto all of the surfaces of your favorite room. Some will rotate the display; all will provide a unique view of thousands of stars and celestial bodies. Currently, there are some great star projectors that are available on the market. To help you find the best, we’ve identified several excellent star projector options, including one that won’t set you back too much financially.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|In My Room Star Theater Pro Home Planetarium Light Projector and Night Light||380 Reviews||$235.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Le Petit Prince Touch Active, Easy Clean Twilight Constellation Galaxy Round Projector Night Light...||338 Reviews||from $18.45||Buy on Amazon|
|Sega Homestar Original Black - Home Planetarium - Star Projector||97 Reviews||$149.99||Buy on Amazon|
|SOAIY Rotation Sleep Soothing Color Changing Aurora Night Light Projector with Build-in Speaker,...||1,125 Reviews||$20.99||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Uncle Milton Star Theatre Pro
Uncle Milton Toys has been dedicated to creating toys that educate about science and are also fun. The company has been following this methodology since its inception, 70 years ago in 1946. As a matter of fact, the modern ant farm, which has educated many youngsters on the ins and outs of ant colonial life, was revolutionized by Uncle Milton back in 1956. Since these early years, the company has consistently led innovation in the educational toys world.
The Star Theatre Pro effectively will turn your home into a planetarium, complete with all of the stellar vistas that you want to explore visually. The main device is completely spherical; as a matter of fact this device will remind you of a miniaturized globe as it comes with a very globe-like stand. Settings for the device are positioned on the front and with these, you’ll be able to control functions like opening and closing the disc-reader door and activating the 30 or 60 minute timing feature, which turns the device off after a preset interval.
The main projection lens is located at the top of the device and will allow you to project your starscape onto your ceiling and walls. To choose a stellar region, simply insert one of the two discs that come with the product and you’ll be treated to an otherworldly vista. The available discs that come with this device enable you to either view a collection of over 60,000 stars or to view the more local solar system. To further the sense of vastness and make the starscape feel more real, Uncle Milton also included a motorized rotation function that slowly reveals stellar landmarks as you stargaze.
This is a LED powered device that uses a LED bulb to provide the projection. This LED is bright, so when you turn the lights off, you’ll be thrust into a beautiful star view that is second only to gazing up at a perfectly clear night sky. The system employs an optical quality lens system so that the resolution of the projected images is crystal clear and vivid. If you find that the projected images are not as clear as you’d like them, you can adjust the focus easily in the device’s settings.
Ina addition to the device, Uncle Milton provides a stargazing music CD that will make you feel like you are visiting a dedicated planetarium. This device is powered from a wall outlet, but you can also employ three AA batteries, in order to take this device to more diverse locations where you might not be able to plug it in. The two spatial vistas that the company has selected as pack-ins are great, but if you want more variety, you can purchase more from Uncle Milton; they even include a coupon in the box.
On Amazon, as of this writing there are 294 reviews. Of these reviews, 68 percent are positive, garnering this device a four out of five star rating. Here is an example of a five star review:
“Love, Love, Love!! We have a 10 foot ceiling in our kids room and this projects well on the ceiling. Looking forward to adding the constellation disc at Christmas. The kids watch the Earth, moon, and sun every night before bed. There is a timer on it too, which is handy at bedtime. I am including a few pictures of the actual projection on our ceiling. Really happy with this item.”
#2. Le Petit Prince Twilight Constellation Galaxy Round Projector
Our Silver Pick, which is the Le Petit Prince Twilight Constellation Galaxy Round Projector, utilizes a childhood favorite to help expose our children to the spaceways. If you don’t recognize the name, this device is named after the main protagonist of the French classic, “The Little Prince”, which tells the story of a little boy who lives on a tiny planet out in the cosmos. This star projector tries to grant our children the same vistas that the title character would experience on his little planetoid, and the result is a fun flight of fancy that is designed to illicit a sense of wonder to all who experience it.
The first thing you’ll notice about this device is that it’s the perfect size and shape for projecting for young child. The unit is squat, domelike, and colored a vivid, Little Prince-like purple that is pleasing to look at. Its construction is notably sturdy, so that the occasional knock over won’t damage the device too severely. The top of the main dome area is studded with star shaped projection holes that will provide the light emission points for this device. The manufacturer also designed this device to be easy to clean, so that the inevitable spills and messes that can happen in a nursery or child’s bedroom won’t embed themselves in the material of the star projector.
As you might have guessed, this device is very different from our Gold Pick. Whereas the Gold Pick utilizes LEDs to provide a near photorealistic depiction of our stars and constellations, this device utilizes LED technology to create more fanciful vistas. The stars are notably star shaped, and the depictions of the Little Prince and his cohorts on the side of the machine are meant to bring comfort to little ones, who are only just beginning their stargazing careers.
When it comes to functionality, this star projector has some great built-in features. First among these is the fact that the LED can cycle through several colors, providing a well-rounded visual experience for toddlers and infants who are just beginning to learn. The device is controlled by touch, so it’s easy to set the device and forget it. In addition to this, since this will serve your little ones as a night light, there is also a built in timer function that will turn the device off after 45 minutes of time. When used this way, the device will last a full two months on a pair of AA batteries.
There are currently 136 reviews for this product on Amazon, and of these reviews, 86 percent are of a positive nature. Overall, Amazon has granted this product a 4.3 out of five star rating. Here is an example of a five star review:
“I LOVE LOVE LOVE this little starlight dome! It’s much smaller than I expected, I can hold it in one hand and tap the touch sensor to change the colors. It’s fun to point it down on the babes so it’s surrounding them and they can tap their hands around on the stars on the sheets.”
#3. Sega Homestar Original Home Planetarium Star Projector
Anyone who’s a gamer will easily recognize the Sega brand name. The company began as a American producer of pinball machines in the early 20th century before being purchased by a Japanese company after WW II. Since then, Sega has been known as one of the top producers of software and hardware in the world. From its nascent years until today, the company has always focused on entertainment and fun, so it’s nice to see that with this Bronze Pick device, that they are also developing devices that engage the mind as well.
The Homestar is more like our Gold Pick product than our Silver Pick. It has a spherical shape that eschews the globe-like design of the Uncle Milton product; instead it rests on an adjustable metal wire stand. With this stand, you’ll be able to pivot the top projector, so that it’ll project onto any surface around your room. There are several settings positioned along the front of the device as well as a slider which deploys the disc tray, so that you’ll be able to swap in your favorite starscapes.
You’ll be able to set a timer in 15, 30, and 60 minute intervals, so that if you doze off while enjoying this device, it’ll turn off and save power. The most unique feature of this star projector is the inclusion of a “shooting star” function. This function uses the internal LEDs to project a fast moving comet into the viewable area. This seemingly simple feature breathes life into your slowly rotating starscape and makes it seem real.
The driving technology behind this excellent device is a three watt white LED technology. The LED that generates the light for the stellar vistas is very bright, which helps the images that are projected appear as if they are three dimensional items floating in space. The built-in rotation automatically turns in the same direction as the earth, once again providing a sense of realism and authenticity. The lenses on this device are some of the most advanced on the market today; as a matter of fact, they are most similar to the lenses utilized in planetariums.
This device is widely considered to be one of the best on the market today, and that is reflected on its reviews on Amazon. Of the 28 reviews on that site, a full 93 percent are positive, garnering this device a 4.7 out of five star rating. Here is an example of a review:
“The best home planetarium I’ve used. Has several “slides” showing different sky views or Earth and Moon view. Must be used in a really dark setting. If daytime, all light must be blocked out in room.”
#4. SOAIY Color Changing LED Aurora Star Projector
Do you want to be exposed to the stellar landscape, but don’t have a lot of cash for a more premium star projector? Fortunately, if you are a baller who is currently working with a budget, there is a great option for those who want to experience a space-like view, but at a fraction of the cost of some other units. While this device doesn’t provide a dedicated view of any one constellation, it does feature images that will seem like representations of nebulae and stellar coronas.
Firstly, this device’s shape is reminiscent of our gold and bronze picks. It’s very spherical, but has a crystalline formation a in its northern hemisphere. This structure works as a multi-tiered lens for the LED light that is generated in the center of this device. The projected light is bright and colorful; a perfect display for young children to enjoy, but also perfect for the relaxation of an adult as well.
This Soaiy device is powered by USB, so this is a great addition to a computer desk, or you can use the adaptor to plug it into the wall. Amazingly, this projector also comes with a USB input, so that you’ll be able to play your own music through it’s built in speaker system while you observe the generated light.
This device has the most reviews of any of the products in our guide. As of this writing, there are 663 reviews for this product on Amazon, and of these reviews, 84 percent are positive. The majority of users have a similar reported experience as this one:
“Soaiy Color Changing Led Night Light is spectacular, mesmerizing and calming with it’s many choices of light modes! The lamp is very well-constructed with great sound from the speaker. This is very user-friendly with or without reading the instructions. The automatic shut off after an hour of not being operated is a great feature! Now I don’t have to keep turning on my daughter’s nightlight that shuts off after 15 minutes and she is still awake.”
We live in a spiral galaxy that is constantly rotating at an astounding rate of 270 kilometers per second. In addition to this, we live on a planet that spins in this spinning galaxy at a rate of 1,000 miles per second, so as you can imagine, nothing is truly still, which is why you can purchase one of these excellent projectors with a rotation function. When your star field rotates, it feels much more realistic and it’ll increase your feeling of being connected to a larger, living cosmos. If you’re looking for a star projector that rotates, it’s best to seek one that has an organic, slower rotation; it’ll feel more like you are moving slower, but it’ll also somewhat emulate the natural rotation of our environment.
Since many use these to provide a venue that will spark a child or infant’s imagination, it’s a good idea to find one that will last several nights or months. Many of these devices are battery powered and will need to be changed from time to time. Some, on the other hand, use a corded connection for power, but have the ability to switch to battery powered mode when you want to take your projector to another room where you won’t have access to an outlet. In any case, batteries for these devices should last at least two nights on a charge, and if you can find a device that is able to be plugged into a wall outlet, that’ll be easier to manage.
Field of Projection
Many of these types of devices project a wide star field that will cover your walls and ceilings with brightly illuminated celestial objects, but the full field of vision will vary on device settings and device model. The field of projection can also vary based on the disc that you’ve loaded into your star projector, so consider this when you purchase new discs for your device. Remember, if you want a field of view that will cover your room, try to find a projector with a larger field of projection, and you’ll soon be immersed in the cosmos’ most mystifying vistas.
While there are over 100 billion stars in the universe, not all are observable by the naked eye, and manufacturers don’t have the resources or space to accurately display them on your star projector. While this is a shame, many companies put a lot of effort into displaying as many stellar features as possible and the majority of these projectors will provide an unencumbered view of tens of thousands of stars and celestial bodies per disc. If you like a denser view of what the cosmos has to offer, there are models and discs that will relay this feeling of vastness. If you want a more systemic view of our celestial neighborhood, then there are models and discs that will provide this experience as well.
For star projectors, there are typically two technologies that are most commonly used, laser and LED. Each technology has its benefits and drawbacks, and each can be found fairly easily on the market, so let’s see what makes each unique:
Laser: This is the more traditional style of star projector. The main device uses lenses and lasers to project myriad points of light onto surfaces around your room. Unlike LED projectors, there is no loss of focus with these types; you’ll either have the points of light display on your walls, or you’ll be too far away to see the lights.
LED: This style has been increasing in popularity over the years. This style uses a bright LED bulb that is projected via a lens outwards. The result is a much more accurate representation of the universe that can include planets as well as the stars and nebulae that can be represented with the other type. There is one caveat though, you’ll have to focus this style in order to increase the definition of the projection on surfaces at different distances.
You’ll find that like many devices that are on the market today, celestial projectors can have a bevy of additional features that can sweeten the deal when you purchase them. Typically, these features will cost extra cash, but many love the convenience that they provide. Here are a few to think about:
Internal Bluetooth Speakers: This feature allows you to add musical accompaniment to your celestial voyage. Simply pair up your Smartphone with your star projector, and you’ll be able to groove to soft, relaxing tunes while you wind your way through the gently spinning cosmos.
Automatic Shutoff: An important feature for those who are using these types of devices to help your children sleep, this feature will ensure that the star projector isn’t on all night. Typically, most parents power on timer for the projector for 45 minute intervals.
Focus Adjustment: Since these devices project light onto surfaces at varying distances, far off surfaces can cause the device to lose focus, and while not all devices have focus functionality, this is a really useful feature to have if you want to see your stars more clearly. Typically, this function is controlled by a focusing knob or other similar structure.
Shooting Star Effect: This is an effect that is present on the Sega model that we’ve featured in our guide and is a great effect that you can find on other models as well. These models will occasionally project a “shooting star” onto the star field that’s typically created by using a beam of light. While not 100 percent realistic, it adds a sense of vibrancy to your starscape that brings the winding spaceways to life.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Anyone who’s ever fell asleep stargazing will tell you exactly how relaxing this pastime can be. Now you can bring that experience home for yourself or your children by purchasing a star projector. All of the devices featured on this list will provide you with hours of relaxing starscapes and will also last for years. Having an appreciation of the wonder and majesty that is our amazing universe is something that should be fostered in us as well as in future generations.