Going to the planetarium was a rare treat in the past, but it’s all but been forgotten today. Restoring that sense of wonder in the young and young-at-heart can’t come from staring at a computer or LCD screen — you have to “see” the stars up above your head and around you, like you were outside. Attempts at making a planetarium work at home in the past hasn’t been successful due to insufficient lighting and poor execution. None of which applies to Sega Toy’s Homestar Original, which features a bright 3 watt LED that makes it the “planetarium” to watch.
The Homestar Original may be small in size but it’s big in features. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, a planetarium functions (simply put) by having a light source which projects the stars overhead, but also is able to “move” then so as to create the effect of the constellations appearing as they would in the night sky over the different times of the year.
Looking like a futuristic black billiard ball on a wired stand, albeit studded with controls, Sega Toy’s version duplicates all this, providing a view of the fixed stars in the Northern hemisphere through the use of two interchangeable discs that are easily inserted into a tray that comes out of the Homestar. So with the disc of your choice having been inserted (displaying either highlighted or non-highlighted constellations) you plug Homestar in for power, turn out the lights and turn it on. You can then angle the images now being projected as you wish and turn the focusing knob on the lens so as to render everything sharply. Focus is made easy because of the high level of brightness that the white LED light source is providing Your view isn’t fixed either: the projection distance can vary from as little as 59 inches away on up to 90 inches away, with a projection diameter of 106 inches to create that enveloping feeling and sense of wonder.
So what do you see? 60,000 twinkling stars, is what. That’s a lot! There’s even a “shooting star” function for those looking to make a wish (shades of Jiminy Cricket). And it’s bright too (there’s the LED again) — unlike what you can see with your own eyes outside in an urban area where the ambient illumination has made hash out of the sky. And because the Homestar rotates in the same direction as the Earth, the view is definitely not a static one. Plus there’s a built-in a variable timer (15/30/60 minute) so little ones can be given a much more amazing night light on the ceiling or wall to help them nod off. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing for an adult either, because who wouldn’t enjoy going to sleep with the “stars” twinkling overhead?
The Homestar Original retails for $149.95 and comes with a double sided poster (sky map). There’s even optional additional discs to get; being realistic high-res discs of the Southern Hemisphere, Warped Andromeda, Day Earth and Moon and Night Earth and Moon.