My infant daughter and I had an accord. We live in Paris, and on most weekdays I’d slip her into a wrap carrier and trot over to a nearby cycling shop with a coffee counter. Strapped to me, she’d snooze for a couple of hours while I toiled on my computer and sipped café filtre. It was our routine — or had been for much of the three and a half months she’s been alive. But the pandemic has upset every one of our lives, even her brand-new one. At home, on lockdown, she would no longer nap in the wrap. Nor in her bassinet, Moses basket, or bouncer.
One afternoon, with her unable to sleep and me unable to work, I found myself mindlessly clicking through Instagram when I came across an ad for a star projector: “Great for kids or adults, the peaceful nebula helps you fall asleep under the effects of our galaxy.” Babies are transfixed by light and shadow, and mine’s no exception. Maybe such a display could ease the way, I thought.
Online, I sussed out the offerings. There were Petit Prince and Sophie the Giraffe projecteurs d’étoiles that piped insufferable tunes. There were personal planetariums with a lot of dissatisfied reviews on account of dimness or bleariness. Most were cheapo boxes that threw clubby auroras — electric kelly green, highlighter purple — or lasered overgrown confetti on ceilings and walls where I wanted a candlelightlike spray of cosmos.
I settled on an upmarket option called the Homestar Pro that promised a faithful northern hemisphere of “60,000 twinkling stars.” It’s available via Amazon, and, at $150, it’s the economy model by Takayuki Ohira, the planetarium designer who also created the best (most accurate, most starry) home planetarium on the market that sells for 20 grand.
For less than one percent of that price tag, the Homestar Pro produces a high-resolution and surprisingly affecting theater in our Right Bank apartment that lulls the kid and her anxious parents. We may not be under a night sky, but the projection is so soothing we might as well be. The planetarium comes with two discs: a star field, and a star field with the constellations mapped. It has adjustable focus. It has a timer. It has a shooting-star function upon which I’ve definitely made a wish.
Some other well-reviewed (and less pricey) projectors
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