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Not all of us have the luxury of stepping into the backyard, looking up, and seeing the different constellations in the night’s sky.
Light pollution can put a real damper on your stargazing experience, and only a select few have access to view the stars in a professional observatory.
One of the best ways to get around these issues is by bringing the stars inside your home thanks to a miniature planetarium.
While finding a good one is a bit difficult since there aren’t many decent manufacturers out there, we did manage to find a few that are worth purchasing.
Read on, and we’ll share our list of the best home planetarium units with you here in this guide.
Top 10 Home Planetariums Table
How to Choose a Good Planetarium
One thing we can tell you is that you shouldn’t have sky high expectations when it comes to a product like this. Yes, they are capable of reproducing the night’s sky in your home, but you won’t find highly accurate instruments in this price range.
With that in mind, a home planetarium can still be satisfying to those who simply want to learn more about the stars – which is why they make a great addition to kids’ rooms – or who have too much light pollution around to enjoy the stars from their home.
Here are a few tips that will help you choose the right planetarium for your needs.
- Can You Choose the Constellations Based on the Time of Year? The best home planetarium machines will allow you to do this, which is why the Thumbs Up Astro Eye Planetarium is in our top three.
If you’re really trying to learn more about astronomy rather than simply purchasing a product like this for relaxation, we highly recommend you purchase one that allows you to adjust the constellations by date.
Planetariums that don’t do this will have a rotation feature that you can turn on and off as you please, but it is less convenient.
- Shooting Star Mode. Normally it’s not easy to catch a glimpse of falling stars in nature, but when you can flip on the “shooting star” switch on the planetarium, you can see as many as you like right on your ceiling.
- Check the Projection Distance. One of the most important things to consider before you buy a machine is how far away from the ceiling it sits.
For products like the Star Theater Pro Home Planetarium, the projector will need to sit at least 6.5-7.5 feet away from the ceiling. Otherwise, it will be too far away, and you won’t be able to see things clearly.
- Find out Which Star Discs It Requires. If the unit you like has interchangeable discs, find out what brand they are. The projector we just mentioned will accept Miller Engineering discs, which means that you can buy other discs of theirs separately to experience stars from different hemispheres.
- What Extras Are Included? Some units come with a CD soundtrack, although this isn’t a crucial feature since you can easily select your own.
You’ll also find some that come with 3D glasses (like number 5) and others that have an automatic shut off feature.
Top 3 Best Home Planetarium Reviews
Sega’s projector is our top pick for those who are new to astronomy – especially children.
The unit is very simple to use and features two different discs of the Northern Hemisphere, and it has a fun shooting star feature that is sure to impress you on your first viewing.
Regarding the projection area, you can set this on a floor and expect it to clearly and crisply project an image that is between 8 to 9 feet in diameter assuming that the height from floor to ceiling is between 7 to 8 feet.
The image can cover a maximum area of 12-feet in diameter, so if your ceiling is smaller than this, you might end up seeing some images on the wall.
While this isn’t the best home planetarium for those with serious astronomy intentions, it is a great tool to help introduce children to the concept and a soothing relaxation tool for adults.
Star Theater’s unit is less expensive than the Sega, but it is more geared toward adults, so we recommend it as an entry-level unit for serious astronomers.
Since it is compatible with Miller Engineering discs, you can purchase different star scenes and pop them into the projector when you feel like seeing some new constellations. They provide you with two discs already – one of the stars and one with the Earth, Moon, and Sun that kids will appreciate.
This unit rotates, so you won’t be able to skip to a specific area, and some units might have issues with this machine jumping or making noise. Not all units have these problems, but it is something to keep an eye out for in case you need to exchange it.
Overall image quality was impressive with this if you get it at just the right angle. Be patient on your first use, as it may require some creative placing on your behalf to be able to enjoy the image fully.
The third option is a bit more expensive, but worth considering if you want to learn the constellations during certain times of the year.
The projection image is crisp and clear once you get the height adjusted and focused, and the shooting star feature is definitely cool, but the star sizes are a bit large and not very realistic. We expected something a little more professional in this price range.
If you’ve never used a home planetarium before, make sure you watch some videos about properly focusing and don’t get frustrated if the image isn’t turning out the way you expect. Sometimes changing the angle and distance from the ceiling is all you need to do to experience the stars in the right way.
Overall, this unit is well constructed, but for less money, we felt that the Star Theater Pro Home Planetarium was still the better deal.