For some astronomers, telescopes may not be the best option for a variety of reasons. Whether it is because of space restrictions or budget, binoculars are a great alternative for seeing the night sky whilst also providing quality views.
Thanks to their wide viewing range and low magnification, they can be a brilliant starting point for budding astronomers. Even if you eventually purchase a telescope, you’ll find yourself using your binoculars again and again.
Ideal for those who like to stargaze, you will get many years of use out of using your binoculars.
If you’re unsure whether a telescope is the right thing for you, binoculars are a fantastic alternative place to start thanks to their cheaper price points and easy storage space thanks to the smaller size.
Naturally, telescopes allow you to look at specific details in the night sky whereas binoculars make a great introduction to the night sky as a whole making them great for those who want to observe constellations and the night sky as a whole rather than a particular planet.
For those who find the idea of astronomy intimidating and want to find out if it is right for them without investing too much time and money then binoculars are the best route for you to take.
As mentioned, they are cheaper which is the main reason as telescopes can sell at extortionate prices so you’re not sacrificing too much investment in the binoculars.
As well as the night sky, you can also use binoculars for day time activities as well such as bird watching meaning you’ll get even more of your money’s worth from the product.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through everything there is to know about purchasing binoculars for astronomy and what to expect. We’ll delve into the advantages of using binoculars before discussing the top 10 binoculars on the market.
We’ll then conclude the article with an exclusive Buyers Guide and FAQ so you will know what to look for when conducting your own research.
By the end of this article, you can expect to go into researching and purchasing your binoculars with confidence and knowing that you are able to make a fully informed decision as to which are the best pair for you.
Advantages of using binoculars
There are many advantages to using binoculars, some of which we have previously discussed.
In this section, we’ll be delving into these advantages into detail and explaining why binoculars may be the best choice for you.
- One of the biggest advantages that we have touched upon is the cost of the binoculars. They are significantly cheaper than telescopes meaning that if you are unsure whether astronomy is right for you then it’s not too much of an investment if you decide not to pursue the route.
- Another financial advantage is that you can use binoculars for day time activities as well for example bird watching or going to outdoor events. Binoculars have a wider scope of usage than telescopes thanks to their portability.
- And speaking of portability, the smaller size of binoculars not only means that they are easier to travel with but you can also store them away easily as well. This is great for those who don’t have as much space at home for a large telescope. Once you’re settled with observing the night sky, you’ll feel more motivated and comfortable with arranging your space to cater a telescope.
- You can look through the binoculars with both eyes at the same time whereas with telescopes you have to look through a single eyepiece. Looking through binoculars makes your astronomy journey more comfortable because your eyes will feel natural and relaxed when observing. When viewing the wider view as well, you can observe more meaning that you can be assured of a successful and positive experience from your first time. This is because your brain will gather a more detailed and clear image from bother eyes rather than one which is great if you want to go looking for constellations.
- Looking through the binoculars with both eyes also means that you can navigate the skies quicker than using a telescope. If you eventually decide to purchase a telescope, you’ll find that you will be more confident when using it because you’ll have a better idea and understanding of how the night sky looks when magnified even if the telescopes allow you to see it in more detail.
- Binoculars have the correct point of view when you observe through them. When looking through binoculars, you’re getting the same view as when you look at the night sky. Telescopes on the other hand may show upside-down or mirror-image views of the sky which can make navigating the night sky a bit tricky for the beginner astronomer.
- You can get adjusted to star hopping a lot quicker when viewing through binoculars because of the broader view which is a great skill to acquire. Leaning star hopping through a telescope is trickier because of the magnified view.
- Whereas telescopes require a lot of additional equipment such as eyepieces, filters and weights, binoculars are all that you need. This is highly convenient if you plan on travelling to go on observing trips as you won’t have to worry about packing a lot of equipment which takes a lot of space and time setting up. You simply take the binoculars out of their case and look through them up at the sky.
- The last advantage is that they are easier to use than telescopes overall which is ideal for young children and beginner astronomers who may find using telescopes a bit difficult initially. Because of the shallow learning curve, it doesn’t take as long to learn how to use binoculars and have hours and hours of positive observing experiences. They can be used by young children without the supervision of adults as they are safe and simple to use.
Disadvantages of using binoculars
Just as we have discussed the advantages of using binoculars, it’s also best to discuss the disadvantages as well.
Here we have gathered some points that you should consider before deciding to make your final decision.
- The first thing to bear in mind is that binoculars are designed to give a broad view of the night sky rather than the details. If you’re wanting to look at the shading on the surface of the moon for example then you’ll have to invest in a telescope. Binoculars come with lower magnification so you get a broader view of the sky rather than a detailed view. If you’re wanting to venture into observing deep space then you’ll definitely need a telescope, however, deep space telescopes are for more advanced astronomers so you can start with binoculars and work your way up.
- The other disadvantage that comes with binoculars is that they usually don’t come with a tripod meaning that for longer observations, your arms may get tired. Tripods are available to buy for binoculars but that will mean an extra investment. On the other hand, telescopes always come with tripods so you can observe for longer periods of time. When observing with binoculars for a long time, it can cause your arms to shake resulting in vibrations thus creating a blurred view.
So now you know the advantages that come with binoculars, here are the top 10 binoculars for astronomy on the market right now for astronomers of any abilities.
OUR TOP PICK
Bushnell’s H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binoculars are the best on the market for many reasons.
Perfect for all kinds of activities, these binoculars have a strong magnification and lens size meaning that you are guaranteed to see beautiful images with a wide field of view which is great for the avid stargazer.
Made from sturdy and durable materials, these binoculars are waterproof and fogproof which is ideal for those who like to travel to go observing.
Thanks to the O ring sealed and nitrogen purged material, you can see the night sky clearly without any obstructions.
These binoculars are made to last for many years and even if you purchase a telescope eventually, you’ll be going back to these binoculars regularly thanks to the stunning views.
With 4.7 stars from over 3,800 reviews, these binoculars have been a popular choice for observers of all abilities.
Perfect for use by anyone at any age, these are a fantastic investment for those wanting to have some quality views of the moon and constellations.
The non slip rubber armor and soft texture grip that absorbs shock provides a more comfortable experience which is great for those who like to have longer observational trips.
Although these binoculars may not have the biggest lens, they are equipped with BaK 4 prisms with multi coated optics that absorb more light which is ideal for night time viewing.
Easy to use and maintain, the large center focus knob allows for custom adjustments according to your preference and the lifetime warranty means that you will have the constant technical support and customer service should you need it.
- Easy to use and maintain
- Ideal for users of any ability
- Lifetime warranty
- High price point
The second choice on our last is the best pick for young children.
These binoculars from Gskyer have a smaller magnification and lens size of 12X25 which is perfect for those who may not be able to handle a heavier set of binoculars.
They are safe for children to use without parent supervision and make a great introduction to astronomy for the keen scientist in your life.
Despite its smaller field of view, the BaK 4 roof prisms absorb a lot of light so you will have a clear view whether using these binoculars in the day or night as well as ensuring the safety of your child’s eyes.
With 4.7 stars from over 900 reviews, these binoculars are highly practical which is great for those families who like to go on lots of camping trips.
They are durable with a waterproof coating meaning that your child can take them anywhere without worrying that the quality is going to falter.
This is thanks to the ABS plastic and non-slip rubber armor which provides a secure grip and allows the binoculars to be shockproof, waterproof and light water resistant.
They are compact and lightweight meaning that your child can take them around with no problem and they also come with a one year free warranty as well as unlimited customer service and technical support should you need it.
- Ideal for children
- BaK 4 roof prisms store lots of light for clear and crisp views
- Waterproof, shockproof and shock resistant features make the binoculars suitable for any environment
- Not ideal for adult astronomers
Our third pick comes from renowned brand Celestron and are their Cometron 7x50 Binoculars.
Great for the keen astronomer, these binoculars boast a wide field of view meaning you will see a larger portion of the night sky.
The impressive lense size of 50mm means that the binoculars will gather a large amount of light which means you will clearly be able to see objects in the sky.
The binoculars have multi coated optics meaning that your eyes will be safe as well as producing images that have clear contrast and resolution.
The large exit pupil provides maximum light which is great for night time viewing sessions.
With an average of 4.6 stars from over 1,500 reviews, these binoculars are reliable and durable thanks to the aluminum casing that ensures extra security.
This is particularly ideal for those who like to travel and stargaze. Among the larger lens options on our list, this is the best choice for those who want to have a high field of view that gives a clear and crisp observation.
Celestron are a popular brand among astronomers thanks to their high quality products and use of advanced technology to ensure that you get the best experience.
Even if you purchase a telescope eventually, you’ll be using these binoculars simultaneously for years to come.
- Ideal for all astronomers of any ability
- 50mm lense means that a lot of light is absorbed for clear and crisps views
- Aluminum coating means that the binoculars are reliable and durable
- Not fogproof
Our fourth selection is Nikon’s 825- ACULON 16x50 Binoculars. One of the more advanced models on this list, the lightweight design makes it easy to travel around with and easy to store.
Designed with excellent ergonomics, these binoculars are great for those who are familiar with astronomy and know what to look for.
The turn and slide rubber eyecups mean that you can have longer periods of comfortable viewing experiences without feeling the strain in your eyes and you are guaranteed clear images thanks to the spherical multicoated eco-glass lenses that absorb lots of light to ensure that you can see the night sky clearly.
With 4.6 stars from over 600 reviews, these binoculars have been designed to capture those incredible images for the keen astronomer.
With a smooth central focus knob, Nikon have used their advanced photography technology to ensure that their binoculars are easy to use and even easier to focus, meaning you don’t have to worry about any blurry images.
Made with a durable rubber-armored coating, you don’t have to worry about the binoculars slipping even in bad weather conditions making them perfect for those who like to like to go on observation trips to look at the night sky.
- Lightweight design makes them easy to travel around with and store
- Turn and slide rubber eyecups cater for longer observations thanks to their comfortability
- Easy to use and focus
- High price point
Our fifth recommendation is SkyGenius’ 10x42 Binoculars. As well as astronomy, these can be used for birdwatching meaning that you’ll get your money’s worth with this model.
The 42mm lense means that you will have a large field of view and be able to see a lot of contrast and light in the night sky meaning you will have a clear and crisp image of the objects in the sky.
With high resolution and color reproduction, you’ll be able to use these binoculars no matter what the weather or sky condition may be thanks to the amount of light these binoculars absorb.
Made with IPX7 waterproof technology with nitro filling inside meaning that you don’t have to worry about any rust or water damage.
With a 4.6 star average from over 500 reviews, these are a perfect pair of entry level astronomy binoculars that you can use for a whole range of other activities.
They are lightweight and easy to store meaning that you can travel around with them and know that they won’t get damaged.
The anti-slip rubber means that you will always have a firm grip no matter what the weather is like.
A great pair of binoculars for the avid traveller who wants to work on their astronomy skills.
- Ideal for entry-level astronomers
- Lightweight and easy to store makes it perfect for travelling
- Anti-slip rubber means that you will always a firm grip
- Not suitable for more experienced astronomers
Our sixth choice is another selection from SkyGenius and are their 10x50 Powerful Binoculars.
Boasting an extremely powerful observation range with a wide field of view, these are great binoculars for those who want to capture details whilst also seeing a larger range of the night sky.
These binoculars are particularly good for fast moving objects and can be used for a whole range of activities beyond astronomy.
The weak light vision with quality optics means that they can be used at night time.
Bear in mind, however, that they cannot be used in complete darkness as they don’t absorb as much light as other models on the list but they are ideal for those who want to use their binoculars from the comfort of their own home where there is background lighting.
With 4.5 stars from over 7,600 reviews, these binoculars are durable, solid and boast an anti-slip grip for comfortability when observing for longer periods of time.
The durable coating on the binoculars make them wear-resistant and moisture-proof meaning you will get years of use without any major damage to hinder the experience.
Easy to focus, these binoculars have corrective optical coating which emphasise the color and minimize distortion with an inbuilt Diopter System which adjusts the imbalance vision of both eyes.
They can be attached to a tripod and the large center focus knob makes the binoculars easy to use and focus.
- Boasts a wide field of view
- Ideal for those who want to observe from the comfort of their own home or in populated areas
- Durable, solid anti-slip grip to ensure the reliability and security of the product
- Cannot be used in complete darkness due to restricted light absorption
Our seventh choice are Celestron’s SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars. These binoculars are ideal for those who want that large field of view thanks to the multi coated optics.
The large aperture is perfect for low light conditions which is great for stargazing and finding the constellations.
Equipped with a tripod adapter of 13mm, these binoculars also have a long eye relief which is perfect for those who wear glasses.
With 4.5 stars from over 5,100 reviews, the SkyMaster Giant Binoculars have a diopter adjustment for fine focusing and an angular field of view of 4.4 degrees which gives you a large area to observe.
The 70mm lens gives you access to all sorts of objects in the sky that you wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye.
Celestron can always be trusted to deliver quality products that give you years of positive observational experiences.
- Large field of view
- Large aperture is perfect for low light conditions
- Equipped with a tripod adapter of 13mm
- High price point
Choice number eight are Celestron’s SkyMaster 25x70 Binoculars. With a 25X magnification Porto prism, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic view of all the details.
The 70mm objective lens means that you will have maximum image brightness thanks to the amount of light these binoculars can absorb even in low light conditions.
With ultra sharp focus across the field of view means that you are assured a lot of positive observational experiences. The multi coated optics assist in providing sharp and clear views.
With an average of 4.4 stars from over 3,900 reviews, Celestron have designed this with long term use in mind.
Manufactured with practical features including protective rubber covering for ultra-firm grip and long eye relief for those who wear glasses, you are guaranteed many years of damage free use with these binoculars.
- 25X magnification Porto prism to bring out the details
- 70mm objective lens provides maximum image brightness
- Protective rubber covering for ultra-firm grip
- High price point
Our penultimate pick comes from Pankoo and are their 10x50 Powerful Binoculars which have a powerful and clear view thanks to their amazing features.
With 50mm lens diameter and a multiple layer coated aspherical lenses elements, you are guaranteed to have clear images in low light conditions.
Boasting a large field of view, these binoculars are perfect for an array of daytime and night time activities beyond astronomy, meaning you can get even more use for your money.
The sleek and solid framework is durable and the rubber finish is shock resistant and provides a solid grip meaning that you can be assured of maximum usage for years to come with minimal damage.
With 4.3 stars from over 2,900 reviews, these binoculars are extremely easy to use and focus thanks to the center wheel which only takes 10 seconds to focus.
Outside of the product itself, you also are provided with a lifetime warranty should you face any difficulties or problems with the binoculars and unlimited technical support and customer service should you need it.
- Great price point
- Large field of view
- Lifetime warranty and unlimited technical support and customer service
- The focus knob needs to be tightened before use to prevent it from falling off
Our final choice is another Celestron selection. Their SkyMaster 20x80 Astro Binoculars boast a powerful 20X magnification and a huge 80mm objective lens, the largest on our list.
This is the perfect choice for those who are avid astronomers. With a tripod adapter, you can view the night sky with the convenience of not having to hold the binoculars for a long period of time.
They are extremely portable and easy to store as well.
The BaK 4 prisms absorb a lot of light meaning you can view the night sky during any condition thanks to the contrast provided in the view meaning you’ll have no problem looking for specific objects in the sky.
With 4.3 stars from over 1,600 reviews, these binoculars are highly popular among those who like to travel and observe the night sky.
They are durable and water-resistant thanks to the armored body which provides protection and a secure gripping surface.
These binoculars are designed to last years of hard wearing use. They also come with a two year free warranty as well as unlimited access to Celestron’s technical support and customer service should you run into any difficulties.
With Celestron, you can always be guaranteed many years of strong use.
- Large 80mm lens for wide field of view
- Tripod adapter so you can view hands free for extra convenient
- BaK 4 prisms absorb a lot of light for optimal performance in low light conditions
- High price point
Best Binoculars for Astronomy Buying Guide
As you can probably gather, there is a lot that goes into the design and manufacturing of binoculars.
From ensuring that you can have a quality view whilst also ensuring your optical safety, brands are using advanced technology to further your positive experiences as you venture into your astronomy journey.
Now you’ve been informed of the advantages and disadvantages as well as the top 10 models on the market, we’ve curated this Buyers Guide letting you know everything there is to know when you are researching binoculars.
After this Guide, we’ve got an FAQ section where we answer the most commonly asked questions on the internet regarding binoculars to help give you additional information that may be useful.
If you are still undecided on what binoculars are the best ones for you, we’ve gathered the main aspects of binoculars that you should consider before making that final decision.
These are the size of the lens, the field of view, the size of the binoculars themselves and the budget.
Once you’ve considered all of these, you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision as to whether binoculars are the right choice for you and which ones will give you the most benefits and use over time to ensure that you have the most positive experience.
The size of the lens
The first thing you may notice when looking at the binoculars is that there are numbers among the names displayed as 7x50 or 16x50. What these numbers signify is the magnification and lens size of the binoculars.
The first number is the amount of magnification the binoculars provide whereas the second number displays the size of the lens.
Larger numbers indicate that the binoculars will have a wider range of view as well as higher magnification meaning you can observe the night sky in more detail.
The lens indicates how much light the binoculars are receiving and the more light there is, the better the detail will be.
It is hugely important to ensure that the second number is as large as possible because the amount of light is more significant than the magnification.
As binoculars are provided to give a broader view of the sky rather than specific details which telescopes provide, you want a pair of binoculars that can give that clear view that you need through the aperture, which is where the light enters.
The same logic is also applied to telescopes although they can handle a lot more light and magnification than binoculars.
For beginner astronomers looking to purchase binoculars, you want to ensure that your lens size is at least 50mm as this will give you the great starting point for observations.
To compare the use of binoculars with the naked eyes, you can see around 4,800 stars whereas binoculars with at least 50mm lens give you access to over 121,000 stars.
Even though it may not seem like a huge difference on the surface, when you start to use binoculars, you are immediately introduced to a whole new world of exploration.
The one main object that you’ll be amazed by is the moon. You can see the moon clearly with the naked eye but with binoculars, you’ll be able to see specific details such as the craters on the surface if you have a larger lens.
The first time you see those details, it’s such a rewarding experience that will leave you wanting to explore more.
Field of view
The second thing to consider is the field of view that the binoculars provide. The field of view is simply how much sky you can see when you’re looking through your binoculars.
As binoculars give you a wider range of the sky than telescopes thanks to the use of two eyes, you want to make sure that the field of view is clear. It’s completely dependent on the individual model itself as to how much range you’ll be able to view.
Two pairs of binoculars that have the same lens measurements may not necessarily give the same field of view. Instead, to find out the field of view, you should be able to find an angle in degrees or a width in feet in the description of the product.
Usually, with astronomy binoculars, this number will be given in degrees as that is commonly a unit used in astronomy. So you could have a pair of binoculars with 8° view or 11°.
This means that the sky you can see will be a circle with a diameter of the degree. The larger the number, the wider the range of sky you can see. If you’re wanting to view constellations then it’s always best to go for binoculars that have a higher field of view.
Size of the binoculars
We’ve already touched on the importance of the size of the lens but it’s also important to consider the size of the binoculars themselves.
With such a wide variety of different models of all shapes and sizes available on the market, you may be confused as to which one is going to provide the best results and be right for you.
However, there are pros and cons with both small and large binoculars that you should always think about before making your final decision.
Smaller binoculars are easy to carry and travel with, whereas the likelihood is that they won’t have a large lens meaning that you won’t have much access to a large image of the sky.
On the other hand, larger binoculars will give you that wider field of view of the sky whereas they can be heavy to hold and that can cause exhaustion when observing for longer periods of time.
If your arms are getting tired as you are observing, this may lead to a blurry vision due to vibrations and the overall experience will be negative.
It is possible to get a tripod to avoid any possible issues but the important point to consider is knowing what you want to get out of the binoculars so you can gauge the size and know what you are going to expect rather than just purchasing a pair without really thinking about how the size can affect the overall experiences.
Lastly, you want to think about the budget that you plan to spend. One of the main advantages of binoculars is how much cheaper than telescopes they are, however, it’s always important to consider the cost of any piece of equipment for any hobby that you plan to undergo.
As you can see from our recommendations, quality binoculars are available at great price points meaning that no astronomer has to suffer from purchasing a cheaper model.
That being said, those who want to purchase a larger pair of binoculars that give you access to a wider field of view of the sky may also need to consider purchasing a tripod alongside the binoculars.
This is because it won’t have the strain on your arms that binoculars can have from long term observations.
You’ll have a better grip of control on them as well and be able to see clear images of the sky hands free meaning you will be more relaxed and comfortable leading to a positive experience.
That being said, purchasing a tripod is not a necessity and if you’re planning to purchase a large pair for short periods of time then you probably won’t need one at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you see planets with binoculars?
You can see certain planets through binoculars depending on the strength of their magnification. It may be a bit tricky as binoculars do not have the overall strength telescopes have.
However, there are some planets that can be found easily with binoculars rather than telescopes. If you are equipped with a finder chart to assist in locating them, you can find Uranus and Neptune through binoculars.
Because of the methane in its atmosphere, Uranus will appear as a greenish hue. Around once a year, Uranus can be faintly seen with the naked eye, although it is advised to locate it using binoculars for a more comfortable and detailed experience.
Neptune, on the other hand, looks like a bright star because it is further away although it has similar properties to Uranus. In order to view both in a lot of detail, you will need a telescope due to the magnification.
What strength binoculars do I need for stargazing?
The best binoculars for stargazing must be at least 50mm. If possible, try and get binoculars that are 70mm or above if you can.
When you purchase a pair of binoculars you want to opt for a larger lens because they gather more light and will give you a better view resulting in a positive experience every time.
The recommendations in this list are all between 50mm and 100mm meaning that they are ideal for stargazing thanks to the amount of light that they will collect.
Is it safe to look at the moon through binoculars?
Simply put, the answer is yes, it is safe to look at the moon through binoculars. Because the light you see from the moon is reflected from the sun, you are not directly looking at a strong level of brightness.
You can also see the darker portion of the moon that is reflected from the Earth light.
Now we’re rounding up this guide and hopefully you’re feeling more confident and excited about purchasing your binoculars.
From the advantages and disadvantages to consider before purchasing your binoculars to reviews on the top models on the market at the moment and finishing off with some additional pointers for when you conduct your own research, you’ll be able to go into your astronomy journey with the confidence and motivation whilst knowing what to expect.
Hopefully you’ll be an avid stargazer before you know it and whether you stick to your binoculars or purchase a telescope for more detailed images, your binoculars will come in handy for many other activities for years to come.
Alongside astronomy, you can also use them at live events and birdwatching during the day so they are always a worthy investment.
In terms of astronomy, lots of astronomers have a pair of binoculars in their repertoire because they have so many benefits that you can’t necessarily get with telescopes.
The most important thing to remember about astronomy, as with any hobby, is to have fun. The information given in this guide is to help you have the most positive experiences possible when you use your binoculars.
So what are you waiting for? Make your decision, get your binoculars and go look at the amazing night sky and discover worlds beyond our own!