Binoculars for stargazing bring the universe a little bit closer to home. These binoculars have powerful magnification with objective lenses that bring in a maximum amount of light. Equipment used for stargazing has to go beyond average equipment. Astronomy binoculars are typically large and heavy, but there are the occasional pairs that are lightweight enough that you can get a good view without the help of a tripod.
The nature of your stargazing will help you determine the right pair for you. For those who want multipurpose binoculars, a smaller pair that can let you see the moon up close or be taken on a weekend birding trip are a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a pair to replace a telescope when you’re traveling, the binoculars will be heavier and more cumbersome. Then, there’s the difference between models that can see the deep sky and those that will make it look like you’re standing on the moon. We picked the best binoculars for stargazing so that you can find a pair that works for how and what you choose to view.
— Best Overall: Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars
— Best High-Powered: Orion GiantView 25×100 Astronomy Binoculars
— Best for Stargazing and Birdwatching: Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars
— Best Lightweight: Nikon 7583 Monarch 20×56
— Best Budget: Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binoculars
How We Picked the Best Binoculars for Stargazing
Picking binoculars for stargazing takes more than looking at the binocular’s magnification, though it’s important to consider. We also looked at the objective lens size in relation to the magnification so that there’s enough light to see in low light conditions. As we researched binoculars, we also considered the field of view, weight, and built-in features like a tripod adapter. Sometimes a model with lower magnification is actually a better choice because it has a wider field of view. And while tripods are great, not everyone wants to use them, so we considered how different binoculars would work for different types of users.
The Best Binoculars: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars
Why They Made The Cut: These binoculars’ light weight and image stabilization make them ideal for stargazing, making them the best binoculars for stargazing and planets.
— Magnification: 15
— Objective Lens Size: 50mm
— Weight: 2.6 pounds
— Relatively lightweight for stargazing binoculars
— Image-stabilization technology helps keep objects in view
— Large objective lens and coatings let in plenty of light
— Interpupillary distance may be too big for some people
— Requires batteries
The Canon 15×50s provide something a little extra with their image stabilization technology. One of the challenges of stargazing is holding a heavy pair of binoculars still enough to see a tiny star billions of miles away. Canon’s battery-powered image stabilization helps counteract the natural shake of the human hand. It’s the same technology used to stabilize Canon camera images used for television broadcasts.
When that image stabilization is combined with 15x magnification and 50mm objective lenses, it brings the moon, planets, and stars into view. These binoculars are lighter than a typical pair of astronomy binoculars, but at 2.6 pounds, you’ll probably need a tripod if you’re gazing for a while.
That said, the interpupillary distance of this model can be a problem for some people. If you have close-set eyes, the interpupillary distance may be too large. They also require batteries to run the image stabilizers.
Best High-Powered: Orion GiantView 25×100 Astronomy Binoculars
Why They Made The Cut: Powerful magnification and huge objective lenses create incredible views from the best high-power binoculars for stargazing.
— Magnification: 25
— Objective Lens Size: 100mm
— Weight: 10.1 pounds
— Wide field of view
— Build-in tripod adapter
— Comes with hard storage case
— Excellent magnification and light gathering
— Eyepiece may be challenging to adjust
The Orion GiantView 25×100 Astronomy Binoculars are a powerhouse when it comes to deep skygazing. While they’re not a telescope, the 25x magnification brings distance objects like nebulae into view. Huge 100mm lenses let in massive amounts of light while also helping to create a wide field of view. A wide view helps when you’re targeting tiny objects. A hard carrying case comes along with the binoculars, offering protection and better portability.
The GiantViews have a reinforced structure to account for their massive weight, 10.1 pounds. That structure includes a built-in tripod adapter, and you will need a tripod. You won’t be gazing for long or be able to stabilize them without help.
Best for Stargazing and Birdwatching: Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars
Why They Made The Cut: These Vortex binoculars have the specs for stargazing and the quality for many a birdwatching trip to be the best binoculars for birdwatching and stargazing.
— Magnification: 10
— Objective Lens Size: 50
— Weight: 1.9 pounds
— Multi-coated lenses to increase light transmission
— Comfortable adjustable eyecups
— Protected with rubber armor
— Need a tripod to keep them steady even though they’re lightweight
— Short depth of field
The Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars find a balance between powerful optics and portability that make them an excellent choice for birdwatching and stargazing. The 10x magnification can bring tiny birds into close view. Add to that the 50mm lenses, and you’ve got bright colors, too. A durable rubber coating protects them and makes them easier to grip.
The Vortex has a slightly narrower field of view, which can make it challenging to keep a moving bird in your sights when it’s at a great distance. However, that same power works perfectly for stargazing. They make the moon and plants more accessible without a separate set of binoculars. While these binoculars are relatively light, you’ll get better views of the night sky with a tripod to steady that narrow field of view. For another option, check our our guide to the best night vision goggles.
Best Lightweight: Nikon 7583 Monarch 20×56
Why They Made The Cut: These Nikon’s powerful magnification brings the moon into view, but they’re lightweight enough for easy portability, making them the best lightweight binoculars for stargazing.
— Magnification: 20
— Objective Lens Size: 56
— Weight: 2.7 pounds
— Impressive low-light performance of ED glass lenses
— Lightweight and portable at 2.7 pounds
— Adjustable rubber eyecups
— Don’t work as well for closer objects
The Nikon 7583 Monarch 20×56 might not be lightweight for birding binoculars, but they are for a pair of stargazing binoculars of this power. With a 20x magnification and 56mm objective lens, they hone in on faraway objects with precision. They come with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass lenses that compensate for color fringing and correct chromatic aberrations for better colors and resolution. They also have a coating that enhances light transmission, which you need when viewing the night sky.
These Nikon binoculars for stargazing also have adjustable eyecups that adjust individually for a custom fit. While these aren’t the lightest pair of binoculars on our list, they have the best mix of quality optics with low weight. You’ll feel them on your neck, but you’ll only need a tripod when you’re viewing planets and deep-sky objects.
That said, these Nikon’s don’t do as well for objects within close range of the binoculars.
Best Budget: Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binoculars
Why They Made The Cut: These SkyMasters have powerful magnification that brings the moon’s craters into view at a decent price, making them the best cheap binoculars for stargazing.
— Magnification: 20
— Objective Lens Size: 70mm
— Weight: 3.25 pounds
— Clear, crips views
— Magnification works for viewing planets and their moons
— Long eye relief helps those who wear eyeglasses to see better
— Tripod adapter is plastic
— Some users report issues with focusing
Celestron is well-known for their telescopes, but they’ve also hit a high note with their astronomy binoculars. The SkyMaster 25×70 has the magnification for the moon, planets and their moons, and potentially deep-sky objects if you know where to look. Their high 25x magnification will show detailed craters of the moon. The 70mm objective lens gathers a good amount of light, though the field of view might require some practice to find objects.
They weigh just above three pounds, which means you’ll need a tripod to hold them steady if you’re viewing anything other than the moon. However, for a relatively inexpensive pair of binoculars, they offer impressive sights for beginning astronomers.
The SkyMaster’s come with a plastic tripod adapter. If you use them with any regularity, we’d suggest upgrading to metal for added security.
Things to Consider Before Buying Binoculars for Stargazing
An in-depth look at the night sky requires more than a pair of binoculars you use to watch your favorite sports team. A 7x to 8x magnification will give you closer details of the moon. But at 10x, the views get infinitely better. That said, keep magnification in perspective. Objects other than the moon will look bigger and brighter, but binoculars, even powerful ones, won’t let you see planets in great detail.
In the right locations, however, 10x magnification may bring deeper-sky images into view, though it will probably require a tripod to hold the binoculars steady. For impressive lunar views and bringing deep-sky objects consistently into view, you’ll need 12x to 20x magnification. However, there are some stargazing binoculars with 25x to 30x magnification that are almost as good as a small telescope.
Objective Lens Size
The objective lens is the binocular’s biggest lens. This lens gathers light, which you need a lot of for nighttime viewing of small, dim objects like stars. Lenses are measured in millimeters. For the average stargazer, a 50mm lens is a good balance between light gathering and weight. Extra coatings on these lenses can enhance light reflection for brighter views, too.
Many dedicated astronomy binoculars have an objective lens that’s around 75mm to 100mm to bring in a maximum amount of light. You’ll get the best views with these binoculars, but they are heavy and will require a tripod to look at anything smaller than the moon.
Binoculars specs typically include numbers like 8×42 or 15×75. These numbers tell you the magnification (first number) and objective lens size (second number). Smaller magnification with a larger lens provides a wider field of view, which you’ll need for deep-sky objects. A larger magnification with a smaller lens lets you see more distant objects, but they’ll be harder to focus on because of a smaller field of view.
Size and Weight
Astronomy binoculars tend to weigh more than hunting or birding binoculars because of the high magnification and large objective lenses required for stargazing. They can weigh anywhere from 3 to 12 pounds. Most people can’t hold three-pound binoculars steady for long. If you can’t hold the binoculars still, it’s hard to see distant objects like stars or planets. A monopod or tripod adapter on the binoculars lets you mount them for steady viewing.
If you need portability and don’t want to use a tripod, a pair of 10×50 or possibly a lightweight pair of 8×50 binoculars offer a good balance of weight to viewing quality. For a panoramic view, check out our guide to the best 360 cameras.
Q: What are the best binoculars for stargazing?
The Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars are some of the best binoculars for stargazing because of the image stabilization. That one feature makes it so much easier to hone in on an object, even though this model does not have the strongest magnification nor the largest objective lenses. These binoculars make up for it with their ease of use and clear images.
Q: What is the best magnification for binoculars for stargazing?
The best magnification is the one that lets you see what you want to see. A high 20x magnification will let you see the moons around a planet in our solar system, but the binoculars will be big and heavy. The bare minimum you need is 7x. Anything less, and you won’t do much better than the naked eye. A good balance is somewhere between 10x and 15x. At this magnification, you can make out impressive detail without the binoculars being too heavy.
Q: What strength of binoculars is best for stargazing?
Strength typically refers to the magnification. You need a bare minimum of 7x magnification for stargazing. However, you’ll get more detail with 10x-15x and the best detail at 15x to 25x.
Q: What binoculars do you need for stargazing?
You need binoculars with at least 7x magnification 50mm objective lenses to gather enough light and provide a big enough field of view. For other presents for astronomy lovers, explore the best space gifts.
Q: Are 10×50 binoculars good for stargazing?
A solid pair of 10×50 binoculars can provide great stargazing. They magnify objects by 10x and 50mm lens lets in a lot of light to show dim objects with some clarity.
Q: What binoculars do I need to see planets?
Binoculars will make planets look brighter, allowing you to see that some aren’t perfectly round, pick out their moons, and notice the bulges of Jupiter’s rings. However, you won’t be able to see individual rings or details like color changes on the planet’s surface. You need one of the best telescopes for that kind of detail.
Q: Are binoculars good for stargazing?
Yes, binoculars are a great way to stargaze. Many pairs can also be used for more earthly viewing, like watching birds, distant mountains, or sporting events. Binoculars aren’t as powerful as a telescope, but they can let you see the moon’s craters with excellent detail.
The Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars might be pricey, but their image stabilization is a game changer for stargazing. They not only zoom in on objects, they reduce shake so that you can actually see stars and planets while holding the binoculars in your hand. Of course, you can get even better views by using a tripod, but the Canon’s quality and added stabilization open the doors to better viewing. If a smaller budget is closer to your reality, the Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binoculars can bring planets and their moons into clearer view. You’ll need a tripod, but the views go well beyond their price.
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