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HomeStar - 21st Century Home Planetarium Review 98

Jeff writes "Direct from Japan, the SegaToys HomeStar is a unique home projector that turns any room into a planetarium, giving a clear view of the night sky. Using interchangeable plates, it's capable of displaying up to 10,000 stars of either northern or southern hemisphere, as well as their constellations. The starfield can move on a timer to simulate the earth's rotation. Also comes with a meteor generating function and sleep timer. Makes a great gift for the dad who has everything, or people who live in light-polluted areas." Check out Jeff's review of the unit.
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HomeStar - 21st Century Home Planetarium Review

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  • Now we know (Score:4, Funny)

    by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) * <djand@nc.gmail@com> on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:17AM (#15516665)
    Wow, I guess there really are people that absolutely hate to go outside and also manage to have a decent source of income. How else do we explain this? :)
    • Re:Now we know (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Poromenos1 ( 830658 )
      Yeah, seriously. Who is going to use this? If you want to see the stars, just get out. If you want to see many stars, just go for a drive to a nice quiet place outdoors, it is really relaxing. What's the use of projecting stars to your ceiling? You might as well get a disco ball and shine some light on it.
      • Reach for the lasers! Safe as f&*$!
      • Yeah, seriously. Who is going to use this? If you want to see the stars, just get out. If you want to see many stars, just go for a drive to a nice quiet place outdoors, it is really relaxing.

        I live in central Osaka. If I had a car (and most people here do not, with bikes and public transportation so convenient), it would be well over an hours drive eastwards to get out far enough to at least not be surrounded by street lights and pachinko-parlour neon.

        • Hell, I towards the edge of a podunk town (~40K people), and I would also have to drive for a good 30 minutes to get a decent view of the night sky.

          Still wouldn't buy it though.

      • Re:Now we know (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:41AM (#15516794) Journal
        I live in a town of just 7,000 people, and the light pollution is so bad that the majority of stars aren't visible (yes I know the vast majority of stars in the universe are never visible, but you all know what I mean). For about fifty miles in any given direction of most major metro areas, only a few stars can be seen. I've only seen the night sky as it used to look a handful of times. It's interesting now to watch people who have never seen in person just how many stars should be visible.
        • Re:Now we know (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xzzy ( 111297 )
          I'm 40 miles out from downtown Chicago, and about all I can spot anymore is Orion's belt. Some of the planets break through the city glow, too. That's pretty much it.

          I grew up in a much more rural region, and only after "citifying" myself did I realize how bad light pollution has become. Would be nice if it was feasible to do something about it.
        • Re:Now we know (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jugalator ( 259273 )
          I agree. I believe many living in urbanized areas (and then such cities would be 5,000+ or close to such towns) would be quite shocked to see the night sky as it looks like with no special light pollution influences. I've seen it just a few times the past decade or so, and it's a fascinating sight, making you truly *see* how you're on a sphere floating around in space. :-) You know you're in such a place when you can spot our neighboring Andromeda galaxy as a fuzzy spot with the naked eye!

          I looked a bit on
          • There aren't a lot of places left in the 'States where you can see the sky without much ligh pollution. The only place I've found is in the western desert camping one night.

            Best place in the world for stargazing: the middle of the Pacific.
            • I was on a cruise ship, in the middle of the caribbean a few years ago. I thought I would be able to see lots of stars in the sky. However, the boat was decked out with so many strings of overhead lights that the stars were overwhelmed.
            • I had some pretty good stargazing up on the continental divide in Colorado. It's also fun to watch for satellites just after dusk.
            • The upper peninsula of Michigan is still good, take a trip to Lake Superior sometime.
            • During the aftermath of a hurricane in 2003, in a major metro area on the east coast US, *ALL* electric power was out the first night. I camped out in my backyard (the house had been flooded) and it was very clear. Laying on a blanket, with AM radio reporting the latest news, unable to get to sleep, the best entertainment was the sky - never had it showed up so clearly, the milky way, a few shooting stars, etc. I even spotted what must have been a satellite, a very faint dot moving very quickly across the d
            • Many mountain valleys in wilderness areas are good too. Mountains do a good job of blocking light polution.
            • Lying on the beach on a Florida key, about halfway down the string, it was awesome. It was about 20 years ago so things may have changed, but I was on a less developed key between a couple of other less developed keys.
        • My apartment overlooks a major shipping port and industrial/manufacturing area (the Port of Tacoma and the Tacoma Tideflats as well as Fife Washington) if you wanna see some light pollution you should come over sometime.

          Oh well though, my 10' dob cuts through all that fairly well if I'm feeling to lazy to drive out to the boonies and just wanna drag it out onto the balcony.

      • Well, it's a toy. A bunch of us at our school astronomy club had a ceiling projector for cloudy nights and also to see objects we could never see from my hometown. Of course, these days I'd just use Stellarium [stellarium.org].

      • Re:Now we know (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jdbartlett ( 941012 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:10AM (#15516972)
        I think this is a nice, if expensive, toy for people in big cities. Even in small cities, light polution dims the view.

        I've a friend back in London who had her ceiling painted with a mock-up of the night sky somewhere in Africa. She hired some company that specializes in glow-in-the-dark night sky displays working from real star maps.

        I doubt this box is much more expensive.
        • I've a friend back in London who had her ceiling painted with a mock-up of the night sky somewhere in Africa. She hired some company that specializes in glow-in-the-dark night sky displays working from real star maps.

          Londoners, eh? More money than sense...

          I did that myself when I was a student with a pot of midnight blue emulsion paint, a packet of glow stars and the Collins Guide to Stars and Planets.

      • Light pollution is a problem even in places we think there is none (mountains, deserts, etc). You have to go pretty far to get away from it. Here's a full-size map of light pollution in the world. [inquinamentoluminoso.it] [inquinamentoluminoso.it] Most people in the US are going to have to drive pretty far to get a truly dark sky.
    • Re:Now we know (Score:2, Informative)

      by Alicat1194 ( 970019 )
      Not so much that people hate to go outside, but even where I live, in a relatively small city, the light pollution is enough to obscure a good portion of the stars. (To the point that they have to move the observatory every couple of decades, since 'civilisation' keeps on encroaching)
      • Re:Now we know (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EvilSS ( 557649 )
        I'm in the same boat. I live in a 'burb of a big city and the light pollution from the city (~ 20 miles away) is so bad that that I usually don't even need the lights on outside at night to see in my yard: the yellow-orange haze from the city is more that sufficient illumination. It's like a perpetual sunset. I would have to drive for hours to get far enough away from the city and surrounding suburbs to find a "dark" area to stargaze.
    • which is a bear of a drive. :)

    • How much money do we spend, how much air pollution, acid rain, and global warming do we create so that we can light up the bellies of birds? It is possible to have development that does not rob us of our heritage and right to enjoy the night sky. International Dark Sky Association [darksky.org]
    • Well, I've been to planetaria as a kid, to the big ones with Zeiss projectors [zeiss.de] even saw the inflatable one [spacecentre.co.uk] at my elementary school once. I can't remember the quality of the inflatable one, but the Zeiss planetaria are really cool, and they can make presentations with it that teach you a lot about the galay and galactic effects. Also I guess this thing is ment for learning, or just as a cool toy of course. Sleep in your bedroom with real stars, yay!! As such, it's a really very cool toy.

      I was only hoping th

      • ok, the cooler digital thing, although smaller, is this one: http://www.ansibletech.com/imagearchive.html [ansibletech.com] the microdome from ansible tech

        Has a big plus on the educational side as well, but is most probably more expensive. I wonder if you could build such a thing yourself by the way, with a normal projector and a filter to deform the pictures to fit on a circular screen.

    • Re:Now we know (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jhon ( 241832 ) *
      I live in SoCal. The last time I saw more than a dozen or so stars in the sky was right after the Northridge Earthquake. The difference was amazing. I ran out to make sure our garage was still standing. Got two feet out the door stopped, looked up and say "Woah". Don't often see the milky-way in West SFV.

      These are cool for parents to show their kids the night-time sky -- when the REAL nighttime sky is obscured. Most kids (mine included) are VERY interested in all sciences. I've one of these myself (n
    • The last clear view of the sky I had was during the two week long power outage from hurricane Katrina. Around here, you're lucky to see the moon and Orion.
    • Well, some of us can only see a few dozen stars when we go outside due to all the heavy light pollution. I wish they would just shut off most of the street lights at times. I think the only way the local observatories are able to work is that they have sodium filters to filter out most of the street lights.

      Not all of us live in areas with low population densities.

      I can *never* see the Milky Way when looking up at night unless I travel quite a ways.
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:18AM (#15516677) Journal
    And you can view samples of what it generates here [homestarrunner.com].
    • Dammit. I was gonna post that as the mirror site.
    • Re:Sample links (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm pretty sure that it has nothing to do with reference.

      I actually figured the whole thing out after visiting both a Planetarium and a Bucky-Dome [bfi.org].

      The first clue came at the planetarium. At the top of the dome was a small circle. If you visually estimated the size of the circle, you would assume it is 1-2 feet across. However, according to the planetarium guy, it is actually 6 feet across.

      The second clue came at the Cinerama Dome. The dome, like all geodesics, is made up of identical hexagonal pie
    • DAMN YOU!

      I had kicked my HSR Habit.....I was clean for 6 MONTHS!!!!

      Strongbad 1
      Office Productivity 0

  • SB (Score:1, Funny)

    by lisaparratt ( 752068 )
    Well, I can see Andromeda, but Orion looks like he's being eaten by some Linux or something...
  • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .llessur.htiek.> on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:22AM (#15516701) Journal

    /reads HomeStar name...

    (Must not make Homestar Runner joke. Must not make Homestar Runner joke.)

    Hmm, the warning label says: Do not look into lens when activated. Burnination of retinas may occur.

    (Oh, bloody hell!)

  • Homstar (Score:4, Funny)

    by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:26AM (#15516712) Homepage
    I prefer the Homstar Projector.
  • ...home projector...Using interchangeable plates...

    You go girl - buck that digital trend!

    Direct from Japan...

    All the way across the Pacific Ocean, huh? Far out man, that's EXOTIC!

  • Since the site is down, I'll post the most important part from it--the description of what the HomeStar is:
    It is the planetarium for worldwide first optical type home. It is possible to exceed several thousand numbers of stars that to project approximately ten thousand thing stars it can see generally with naked eye of the human.
    Any questions?
    • How is it different from the Discovery Channel Home Planetarium I got my niece for Christmas in 2004? It sounds more advanced and a lot more expensive.
      • Well, the instructions are in Japanese, which caused the reviewer to fall under the impression that the thing was far more capable than what he could make it do by poking and prodding at it. Oh yeah, and it's considerably more expensive than the Discovery Channel one (not to mention that it doesn't look like it runs off a flashlight).

        The MirrorDot mirror [networkmirror.com] has the details, along with some decent pics of the thing.
  • by I Like Pudding ( 323363 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:43AM (#15516799)
    After reading up and correctly identifying every constellation in both the northern and southern hemispheres, I was kidnapped and transported against my will to the Credence system where I was then press ganged into service for the Unitarians as the so-called "Last Starfighter". It was a harrowing experience; I barely defeated their leader, Xenu, in a last-ditch attack with the Yellow Submarine's emergency weapon system, "Mortal Flower". After a long, boring awards ceremony, I was transported back to Earth. Nobody believed me when I told them my tale, of course, because I had been on acid at the time.

    I do not recommend this product.
  • Misread... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by TWX ( 665546 )
    Did anyone else read the headline as, "Direct from Japan, the SexToys HomeStar..."?

    It's too early in the morning...
  • by spacerodent ( 790183 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:48AM (#15516824)
    I've seen these type of setups before and while impressive they just don't hold a candle to the real thing. I was amazed when I went out on a ship in the middle of the pacific and looked up. You can't imagine how many stars and stuff you can see when you don't have anything else around but the ocean. Ever since then I've been less than impressed with these at home versions :[
    • Hmm...I wonder if there are some people who might be able to use this device, that don't have access to a boat in the middle of the Pacific?

      No, probably not. So you're right...it's useless.
  • Exellent unit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nova1313 ( 630547 ) *
    I imported one of these a while ago. Excellent unit. Great for teaching. Also gives an awesome effect in the living room at night time when it's too rainy to go out :) /starnut
  • The original Japanese description actually more accurately translates to:

    "Oh my god, Its full of stars!" ..and probably something about "Kawaii neko-chan"
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:59AM (#15517365) Homepage
    Unfortunately, I've only had perhaps a dozen chances to look at a good, dark sky in my lifetime. But, fortunately, I have had those chances.

    It's unreal. Just as it's hard to recognize the constellations from your typical U. S. suburban location, because you see too few stars, under good conditions it become hard to recognize the constellations because you see too many stars. The brighter stars that form the H. A. Rey connect-the-dots diagrams are lost in a sea of stars that look almost as bright.

    I had a real "Aha!" moment on one of those occasions.

    We've all been brought up to believe that the constellations are connect-the-dots stick-figures. And most of these stick-figures are so lousy that it's hard to believe anyone ever connected them with anything. There are a few exceptions, like Orion. (H. G. Wells wondered why the Christians had allowed the constellations to continue to be named after pagan mythology, and had never reinterpreted them. He figured that in any such interpretation Orion would be Christ...) Sagittarius does have something that perhaps can be seen to resemble a bow. But, mostly, they are a bunch of slightly-out-of-true triangles and boxes.

    Well, one night, when the sky was full of, what can I say but stardust, I suddenly had this perceptual shift, like seeing a Necker cube reverse. I didn't see dots. I saw a silvery, stippled texture. And the sparser and denser stipples of starlight looked sort of like clouds. And, just as you see shapes in clouds... not connect-the-dots, stick-figure shapes, but solid, three-dimensional shapes... I saw solid, three-dimensional shapes, sculpted blobs of starry fog in which I thought I could see animals, and faces, and so forth, just as I can in clouds.

    I can't prove it, but I am certain that this is the way the ancients perceived the sky.

    • Yeah, the country really is the best place to trip.

    • Many years ago I spent a lot of time volunteering at the Charles Hayden Planetarium in Boston, Mass. (actually I was the Museum of Science volunteer with most hours for several years.)

      I did a lot of talking about astronomy, showing off models of spacecraft, helping folks try on spacesuits, etc. I also helped out with the shows, the 3pm one being the live show, "Stars of the Season". In the theater for that show was the lecturer and a guard. The guards were mostly there to help anyone who had to get up in t

    • One time on acid i experienced the same thing only it was drywall, just plain white drywall.
    • It's sad when you realise just how few places are truely dark these days. Living in Europe there are few places where you can get really dark skies (at least without a massive power outage). In Canada it's a bit better because there are still plenty of areas with low population density (less than 1 person per sq km). If you are searching for the best sky views, you need to be at least 30 miles away from any town or city and preferably no cloud cover at all - any cloud over a town will reflect light back at

    • >I can't prove it, but I am certain that this is the way the ancients perceived the sky.

      Ancients, as well as contemporaries who live in the mountains and who sail the seas...
  • for San Francisco and other fog ridden 'hoods
  • Does it have a Trogdor constellation?
  • The picture in the review showed the projected stars as having constellation lines drawn on them! It looked terrible. If I want to get the feeling of lying in bed or in my living room and looking up at the stars, I don't want to see big, garish lines drawn across the "sky". Hopefully they have some disks without the lines, but the review didn't mention it.

    Years ago I used a kit to put luminous paint on my bedroom ceiling in the pattern of the stars. It was a set of stencils you'd stick to the ceiling and us
  • It's probably another one of Strong Bad's get-rich-quick schemes, I bet he's taped Homestar to the ceiling again.... :-\
  • ... actually when I say better, what I really mean is more Sega obsessive... http://www.ukresistance.co.uk/2006/01/segas-homest ar-planetarium-reviewed.html [ukresistance.co.uk]
  • the 10,000 stars claim is sort of marketing hype on an average night the sky yields about 2,000 visible stars. I have concerns about the units ability to accurately project the correct star color. I used to work with a major planetarium projector that went to a magnitude of 6.7 which is about 14,000 stars. A xenon lamp illuminated each hemisphere and light was focused and filtered for each star and nebula. The problem with this unit as I see it is it would work well with a domed ceiling. If you have a light

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