The Best Binoculars for Stargazing in 2021
Last Updated: July 29, 2021
Binoculars are considered to be a gateway for enthusiast astronomers. Compact, yet powerful optical instruments that allow for quick and seamless views of celestial objects. With the rapid improvement in binocular technology, binoculars have become way more affordable thus making them one of the most sought-after gadgets for stargazing.
Unlike telescopes, binoculars are easy and intuitive to use. Furthermore, they don’t need any time to set up and align. You just grab them and head outside under the stars. With a wide variety to choose from, finding what suits you best can be a little overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of the best binoculars for stargazing, as well as a thorough rundown of what you need to look out for when buying one.
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Our top 3 binoculars for astronomy
About the binoculars
The binocular’s large objective lenses provide an outstanding light gathering capability, which, in turn, allows you to have a clear, high-contrast image whenever you choose to go outside and use them. These lenses and how they were made, are what make these binoculars so great for watching the stars at nighttime.
To further improve the user’s viewing experience, the lenses have been coated with a specialized protective coat. It repels dust, water, and grease to keep them always clean and ensure you get the crisp image quality you have been promised.
This protective coating is not just applied to the lenses, but the objective and the ocular lens surfaces too, which might also be touched during use. Thanks to this overall coating, oil, water droplets, and various other small particles can be easily wiped clean from the body of the binoculars.
And, you guessed it, the full-body coating means that these binoculars are also, in fact, waterproof. That, and being nitrogen-filled (JIS Class 6), allows them to handle the most extreme weather conditions. They can also be submerged in water up to 1 meter.
The Pentax’s rigid body construction makes them extremely rugged in order to maintain optical alignment at all times. But this, in turn, makes them a bit heavy for handheld viewing for longer periods of time. Also, while talking about cons, it is worth mentioning that they have a narrow Field of View that isn’t suited for a wider visual area.
However, it is extremely hard to beat the optical performance these binoculars provide for their price.
About the binoculars
The Barska binoculars have quite a sturdy body and are O-ring sealed. They are also argon purged, which makes them completely waterproof and fog proof. This will allow you to always get a good view of your subject, no matter the weather conditions you might find yourself in.
Next up, in between the lenses, you have a zoom thumb-lever, which allows for a quick zoom in or out, without one having to take their eyes off the binoculars. Great if you quickly want to get up close to something fast or pull back to look at the bigger picture again.
But what makes these binoculars powerful is their large variable zoom. The lenses have 20x to 100x magnifications and this easily allows you to bridge the distance between you and your viewing subject. The built-in mount also comes in handy. You won’t need to strain your hands by holding them for longer periods of time or try to hold them perfectly still.
A tripod connected to the tripod adapter mount will do that work for you, but you will have to own a tripod first or buy one because that will not be included in the package. What will be included though, is a carrying case, a neck strap, and a lens cloth.
A great product overall, but still on the heavier side, so we would recommend placing them on a tripod in order to have a better viewing experience.
About the binoculars
These binoculars are also O-ring sealed and nitrogen-filled, which makes them waterproof and fog proof. And thanks to their build and all that rubber coating on the body, we can also say that these binoculars are also shockproof.
The Action Extreme is a Porro prism and thanks to Nikon’s Eco-Glass lenses and prism systems you get a high-quality glass that is also lighter in weight. The lenses are bright and multicoated, and the prisms are BaK4 High Index prisms. This delivers really bright and very high-quality images.
The Action Ex Extremes provide a 10x magnification over a 50mm objective lens. Even though the magnification level is great for budget-friendly binoculars such as these, the 50mm lens, unfortunately, adds a lot of bulk to them. This might make them more taxing to some users and for longer time periods.
Like we said before, the image quality of these binoculars is superb, and the larger Field of View allows you to also see the bigger picture. And thanks to their awesome low-light performance, they allow you to catch a great glimpse of the starry night sky, the full moon, or some meteor showers.
Thanks to the central focus knob on these binoculars, cleverly placed close to the eyepieces, you have a fast range of focus for quick viewing. This makes it easier to focus on faster-moving subjects, so we would say that this also makes these binoculars perfect for birdwatching.
And lastly, it is worth mentioning that these binoculars are also made tripod adaptable, making them very versatile and opening up a whole new world of scenic viewing possibilities, as well as extended viewing sessions.
These Orion binoculars were made with stargazing in mind. Their big 70mm lenses excel at viewing the cosmos, and the 15x zoom will allow you to get close to even craters of the Moon. Even though they were made for low-light conditions, we should mention that they also work well in daytime conditions as well.
About the binoculars
The field of view is large, and this allows you to capture the scenery in your outdoor travels. Thanks to the high-quality glass used in the build of these binoculars, the light transmission is impeccable. This is all because of the BaK-4 prisms, the fully multi-coated optics, and internal baffling.
The team at Orion even thought of eyeglass wearers while designing them, so that they could also use the binoculars without removing their corrective lenses. This is made possible by the 18mm eye relief. Attached to it are also foldable eye guards which guard the viewer against any peripheral light sources but could still be folded down for more comfortable use by someone with eyeglasses.
Even though the 15×70 Astronomy Binoculars fall on the smaller side of binoculars as to not make any additional problems for handheld use, they also have a tripod L-adapter which could be used for extended viewing sessions. That way, no extra pressure would be put onto the user’s hands and there would be no need of keeping them steady. The tripod does all that for you. This will further improve your stargazing performance.
In the box, along with the binoculars, you will also find the aforementioned tripod adapter, a neck strap, objective and eyepiece dust caps, and a soft carrying case.
About the binoculars
Canon hit the sweet spot with the 12x magnification paired with a 36mm objective lens. A lens this size translates to brighter views, but it’s still compact enough to carry around.
The main selling point for the IS III binoculars is Canon’s advanced image stabilization (IS) technology. Once the built-in gyro sensors detect shaking, two vari-angle prisms adjust to provide smoother viewing. This helps keep a clear image even when panning. So, nothing will go by you without you having to spot it.
The IS system uses two AA alkaline batteries, which power a microcomputer. This microcomputer not only helps with image stabilization but also shortens startup times. So, if you see something happening in the sky, you can instantly enjoy it through the IS III binoculars.
Once you place your eyes in front of the binoculars, you will experience an edge-to-edge viewing thanks to the field flattener optics and Porro II prism design. This paired with the 14.5mm eye relief makes the Canon 12×36 IS III ideal for more extensive sighting sessions.
The well profound build quality from Canon can also be found in the 12×36 IS III model. Although surrounded by water-resistant rubber armor, the IS III binoculars aren’t waterproof. However, the resistance is good enough to get you through a session with light rain.
Overall Canons’ 12×36 Image Stabilization III binoculars are quite versatile. They are perfect for the adventurer. Huge magnification, advanced image stabilization, compact design, water-resistant build. There’s not much more an enthusiast stargazer would ask for.
About the binoculars
The Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binocular has a wide aperture and is intended for observing celestial objects or long distant land observation. The huge 70 mm objective lens ensures that the image is brilliant in both low light and long-range situations. A smaller version is also available: the Celestron Skymaster 15×70 which is slightly cheaper.
Multiple layers of specialist coating of optics increase the image’s crispness and clarity. These Celestron binoculars are ideal for seeing the stars and magnifying pictures in the night sky.
The Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 is primarily used for celestial and long-distance terrain gazing. The high magnification setting of 25 brings distant things closer, allowing for a clearer picture. The 70mm objective lens compliments the strength of the magnification. It allows greater object brightness, which is important while working in low-light conditions. This tool is useful for seeing planes and all the other celestial bodies.
Another good application for this product is spotting items from a long distance on land. Whale watching, island spotting, and other maritime activities are all feasible from the coast.
Hunters who have been observing animals from afar in preparation for hunting season will be able to locate herds more readily as they prepare to set up camp. This model may also be used to spot herds of horses in the wild from afar. With the Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 binocular’s sophisticated magnification and brightness choices, you can perform anything that demands long distance seeing.
The Skymaster 25x70 comes with a carrier pouch, a microfiber cloth and a tripod adapter.
Things to consider when buying a pair of binoculars for stargazing
After covering these binoculars, we will go more in-depth to the features you should look out for when buying your first pair as a novice stargazer.
The optical system
There are two optical systems that astronomy binoculars use. Those are the Porro prisms and the roof prisms. Most of the astronomy binoculars that are available use a pair of Porro prisms in each barrel. They help direct the light that comes in through the objective to the eyepiece. These are the classic type of binoculars, where the objective lens and eyepiece are offset. These are also the cheaper ones, so if you are just starting out with stargazing, maybe you should start with the more basic ones.
On the other hand, binoculars that use roof prisms have a “straight-through” view, and a pair of these will cost you. These types of binoculars are more compact though, lighter, and more comfortable to hold.
You won’t go wrong with choosing either of these systems, it will mostly depend on your budget and how much you are willing to spend on a pair of binoculars.
The magnifying power
It is not just the magnifying power you should be looking out for when looking for binoculars though, you should also be watching out for the aperture too. The size of the aperture is responsible for the resolution of the observed image. And sometimes it is better to have a lower magnification power, but a larger field of view. Naturally, this depends on your needs and what you plan on watching with that pair of binoculars.
Usually, you should get stargazing binoculars with an aperture of 35mm to 60mm and a magnification of 7x to 10x. Any more than 10x, the image might get shaky, and going over 60mm lenses means a heavier load on your hands. The minimum acceptable for astronomical observing though is a pair of 7×35’s.
The weight, as we have already mentioned a couple of times above, plays a great part in choosing the perfect ones for you. Especially if you plan on gazing for hours on end.
The ones built with a roof prism are usually lighter, but as we said, they are more expensive than the standard ones.
The bigger the lens, the heavier the binoculars. That’s how it usually goes. So, while making your choice, consider how long will you be using them, will you use a tripod, and also whether a tripod can even be mounted on those specific binoculars.
I don’t think we even need to talk a lot about portability, because binoculars are made specifically for that reason. Unlike the heavier telescopes, that need to be assembled on-site, binoculars are made specifically with portability in mind.
They have been made compact, relatively lightweight, and very easy to carry around on your person. So, portability, according to us, is not a problem.
The build quality
The build quality is mostly dependent on the material used for the body. Whether it is closed off properly and if it is coated with something, which would make it water and dust repellent. This helps if you plan on using it in extreme weather conditions.
Some of them can even be fully submerged underwater.
Furthermore, it is important to have a high-quality glass lens and prisms, the complexity of the AR, or anti-reflection, coatings should be good, and lastly the precision of the lens shape. All of these make for a great product and an overall excellent viewing experience.
When talking about the price, binoculars are ranging from a hundred to thousands of US dollars.
Let’s say that you are a newbie, just starting out in the field of astronomy, or you are just curious about the cosmos and want to see close-ups of some of its parts. You would be better off getting a pair of binoculars on the cheaper side. That would normally be somewhere in between 100$ – 300$. For that budget, one could buy a great pair of astronomy binoculars that are made with a pair of Porro prisms.
However, if you already have experience in this field and have been an enthusiast for a while now, and you are simply looking for an upgrade, then we suggest the following. Check out some of the binoculars that are built with roof prisms. They are smaller but don’t let that fool you, they are much more powerful than the ones with Porro prisms. An expensive pair will give you crisp, high-contrast views without any distortion right up to the edge of the field of view.
Nice to have, especially for daylight use, but not as critical for casual astronomical use.
Hopefully, we have covered everything here that might interest you as a new recruit to the growing community of astronomy observers. Look through our thorough list again if you are still interested and maybe consider picking up your first pair of binoculars, hopefully, one of the ones we have recommended for you here.
If you are keen on trying and you learned something from this article, we are very pleased to have helped you along on your journey to the stars. Now go grab a pair of binoculars and take a good look for yourself.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out our guide on the different space objects you can easily observe with binoculars.
Written by Tom Urbain
I’ve been fascinated by space and astronomy from a very young age. When I’m not watching space-themed documentaries, movies or TV series, I spend most of my free time in my backyard admiring the planets and galaxies with my telescope.