In the future lunar exploration programs of China, soft landing, sampling and returning will be realized. For lunar explorers such as Rovers, Landers and Ascenders, the inertial navigation system (INS) will be used to obtain high-precision navigation information. INS propagates position, velocity and attitude by integration of sensed accelerations, so initial alignment is needed before INS can work properly. However, traditional ground-based initial alignment methods cannot work well on the lunar surface because of its low rotation rate (0.55?/h). For solving this problem, a new autonomous INS initial alignment method assisted by celestial observations is proposed, which uses star observations to help INS estimate its attitude, gyroscopes drifts and accelerometer biases. Simulations show that this new method can not only speed up alignment, but also improve the alignment accuracy. Furthermore, the impact factors such as initial conditions, accuracy of INS sensors, and accuracy of star sensor on alignment accuracy are analyzed in details, which provide guidance for the engineering applications of this method. This method could be a promising and attractive solution for lunar explorer’s initial alignment.