Stars, planets, galaxies – if astronomy is your cup of tea, I’m sure you enjoy gazing at the night sky. Stargazing is a great hobby that you can pursue with friends and family, or on your own. Similar to other recreational activities, it is a must to invest in the right equipment to enjoy star watching better. Sure, we have our two naked eyes that we can use. However, it is always better to be able to see the stars and the sky closer, and you can only do this using the right optics. Now, the question is, which among the products in the markets suits your needs best. Don’t you worry. In this review, I will share with your some of the space binoculars that will take you to Jupiter and back. Figuratively, of course. Also, to complete this ultimate buying guide, I will also share some tips to make your selection process more comfortable and hassle-free. In the end, what we want to achieve is to buy the best stargazing binoculars for your particular needs that will make your astronomy sessions even more enjoyable.
Why Not a Telescope?
The first thing that springs to mind when talking about binoculars for viewing the night sky, is that this is a job usually left to the telescopes. So why use binoculars? There are a few reasons:
- A good bino is cheaper than a good telescope.
- An “entry-level” (read “cheap”) telescope is more likely to be a source of frustration because of inadequate clarity and focus when used at the magnification power it is supposed to provide.
- Binos make use of both eyes, which is the way our mind is used to seeing things. You actually get a clearer and more detailed view with stereoscopic (two eye) vision because the brain has more information to work with, and it also feels more comfortable than squeezing one eye shut while straining the other.
- The view is not inverted, making them more intuitive to use and move around and easier to match up with maps of the night sky.
- Binoculars are light, easy to use and require little to no setup, even if you’re using a bigger model mounted on a tripod.
- With these features combined, they are much more likely to provide gratification when used by a beginner or amateur astronomer.
On the downside, binoculars are rarely anywhere as powerful as a telescope, so if you really need that 100x or more magnification, you’ll need to use a telescope, and not a cheap one at that.
Things to Consider When Buying Astronomical Binoculars
If you are a beginner, I’m sure you are overwhelmed with the vast selection of products that you can see online. Being confused can eventually lead to purchasing the wrong item that you will simply regret. To make the selection process more convenient, allow me to share some of the most basic things that I consider before buying.
Magnification is what binoculars are all about. This is usually the first number that you can see in the description of the product. For example, when we talk about a 10×50 model, its magnification is 10. This means that the object will appear 10 times larger than viewed without any aid. On the other hand, the second number refers to the diameter of the lens used. In the case of a 10×50 bino, it simply means that the object is magnified ten times using a lens of 50mm diameter. So which magnification works best for skywatching? 10×50 is actually a pretty good choice for this purpose. You may also prefer higher magnification for more detail. However, it does come with a disadvantage. High powered binoculars are prone to shakiness with just a little movement. You certainly won’t be able to get a clear view with 25x optics if you just stand and hold them in your hands. In cases like this, a tripod may be necessary.
This might be the first time you’ve heard about exit pupil, but it is an essential factor that you need to consider when buying binoculars. This is a number that tells how bright the object will appear even if you are viewing in low light. This is determined by dividing the lens diameter by the magnification. Hence, the exit pupil for a 10×50 model is 5. This is already a decent number, but if you want a superb experience watching the moon, comets and other heavenly bodies, 7.1 would be a better choice.
Field of View
Field of view (FOV) refers to the width of the image that you can see in the eyepiece. When viewing constellations and the Milky Way, the wider the field of view the better. Also known as the angle of view, the field of view is generally smaller in big binos with higher magnification. Hence, for better stargazing experience, you need to find the right balance between magnification and field of view.
I’m sure your binoculars will go places. Therefore, portability must also be considered when you decide which product to buy. In many cases, it is better to select a binocular that is compact and light. Heavy ones may cause stress and stain to your arms. Also, always ensure that you have all the accessories you need packed in a single bag.
Looking at Venus at night is a beautiful experience. However, shaky hands could quickly ruin the pleasure. As much as possible, you would prefer that the images are stabilized, right? You can mitigate the shakiness somewhat by leaning onto something, supporting your elbows or even lying on your back. However, consider buying a tripod that is compatible with your binoculars. As a rule of thumb, if the magnification is higher than 10x and you’re using them standing up, a tripod becomes necessary. If you are into giant binoculars, you also need to make sure that the tripod can support its weight. Or else, you will end up with a broken lens…
By considering these factors, you will surely save a lot of time and money. Speaking of money, the cost is also a significant factor to any stargazing enthusiast. We always fall into the misconception that quality binoculars always come with a hefty price tag. This is not the case all the time. You can always find a better deal as long as you know what you are looking for and what you need. By comparing several sellers and models, you can weigh your options and decide which among the choices is the most cost-effective.
Top Binoculars for Astronomy
Now that you are equipped with the knowledge on how to choose the optics that best fit you, let us go over some of the products that could satisfy what you’re looking for. These are the products that I would consider myself buying if I was looking for a new one.
If you want a high-end kind of device with a whole lot of features that will make your stargazing experience more memorable, this next product might be the right choice for you. The 9326 Giant View 25×100 is a top tier product from Orion. This big binocular offers a jaw-dropping 25x magnification paired with 100 mm objective lens. This product promises to show you the stars and heavenly bodies in a one of a kind clarity and detail. Considered to be one of the biggest astro binoculars out there, this product assures you of a skywatching experience like you’ve never experienced before. It will offer great views not only various objects of the Solar system, but also of many of the deep sky objects (DSOs) such as distant galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.
Similarly to the Eyeskey model above, the Orion also uses BAK4 prisms and multi-coated optics. This feature enhances the image by letting more light through the optics. This is further enhanced by the use of internal baffling. As a result, you’re getting the detail, sharpness, and contrast that few products can offer. To ensure that this product stays solidly and accurately optically aligned (meaning that the barrels are pointing in the exactly same direction), its barrels are cross-reinforced. If you are worried about viewing through the eyepiece with your glasses on, then no need to be concerned in this case? Its 18mm eye relief gives people with glasses enough space for an unrestricted view.
- High powered optics with 100mm of objective lens and 25x magnification
- Uses multi-coated optics for enhanced viewing experience
- Has high light throughput for more explicit and crisper images
- 18mm eye relief perfect for people wearing glasses
- More expensive compared other models
- Heavy, bulky and needs to be handled with care
- Adjustment in collimation may be necessary upon delivery
- Tripod is almost certainly a necessity
Since the Orion 9326 Giant View have such powerful magnification, it is more prone to shaking even with the slightest movement. Hence, a tripod is necessary – it’s hard to imagine using them without one. The Orion 10105 VersaGo II Altazimuth Telescope Mount is a perfect companion for this binocular. It offers a sturdy mount for your optics and easily eliminates strain and shakiness. It includes adjustable legs that you can raise or lower to get the perfect angle for your starwatching session. Capable of supporting up to 15 lbs of weight, this tripod is ideal for giant binoculars of any brand:
In order to fit the GiantView binos onto this tripod, you will also need a special bracket:
Now you can be assured of stabilized images you would otherwise struggle to achieve. In addition, since your both hands are free, you can sit back and relax while waiting for constellations to fall down.
If the Orion product above is a bit too expensive for you, why not try this alternative from Celestron. More affordable than Orion, these binos offer the same magnification and objective lens diameter for clear, bright images. Since skywatching happens at night (of course), you need optics that will maximize any source of light to make the image appear bright and sharp. Using 100mm objective lens makes this possible. Low light conditions will never hinder you from seeing comets and stars in a way you’ve never seen them before.
Another excellent feature of this fantastic binocular is its multicoated optics. Similar to other brands, this enables you to see clear and crisp images. It also has long eye relief which is perfect for people wearing glasses. Want to use both hands again? No need to worry. You can conveniently attach the Celestron SkyMaster to a tripod for stability. For ergonomic purposes, it is built with a textured finish and soft rubber eyecups. It is water resistant too! Did I mention the fact this one of the few products with individual focus system? Meaning, you can adjust the focus of each eyepiece to ensure optimal results – it may sound tedious, but it allows you to negate any eyesight differences your eyes might have. Delivered as a complete package, expect to receive accessories such as lens cap, a nice carrying case, lens cloth, and neck strap.
- 25×100 optics for bright and clear views of the night sky
- Ultra sharp focus with individual adjustment system
- Multi-coated optics and superb light throughput
- More affordable compared to other binoculars of the same magnification
- Comes with nice accessories
- May not last as long as more expensive brands
- Some issues with collimation and alignment upon delivery are possible
- Given their size and weight, may not be suitable where a smaller pair would work
Again, you will probably need a tripod to get the best out of this model. The Celestron Heavy-Duty Altazimuth Tripod goes well with these Celestron SkyMasters. Its legs can be extended depending on your needs. As a matter of fact, you can extend the leg up to 45 inches which is a very big deal when looking at the stars.
If you think that the 25x magnification is just too much for you or your budget, you might consider this smaller version of Celestron Skymaster. This product is perfect for beginners with its 20x magnification. Although this is a downgrade of the Skymaster above, it is an excellent buy. It offers an ample magnification to aid your eyes in viewing the stars, planets and other celestial bodies. Using its relatively substantial objective lens, it will be easier for you to see astronomical sceneries in this long-range viewing binocular. Even in low light conditions, you are getting the maximum brightness for any image. Terrestrial viewing will never be as fulfilling without its 20x magnification. Isn’t it great to see the moon and Venus 20 times closer? You can easily adjust the focus using an adjustable knob. This feature makes images sharp and crisp.
Another excellent benefit of using the SkyMaster 20×80 is its comfortable eyepiece. With soft and flexible rubber cups, you can say goodbye to ridiculous marks around your eyes after a long viewing session. These cups also help block out surrounding light. People wearing glasses will have no issues using this product as it has ample eye relief. Do you want your binocular to last longer? This one of a kind product can definitely last for years. With its rugged and armored exterior, it can withstand some mishandling. Upon delivery of your product, expect to receive a whole bunch of accessories like a rain guard, a neck strap, lens cap and a carrying case. All in all, this is a great for nice one of a kind backyard astronomy session.
If you plan to use this binocular with a tripod, this is not a problem at all. This Celestron bino comes with a built-in tripod adapter compatible with almost any monopod or tripod. That’s significantly more convenient than trying to hold a steady image with shaking hands.
- Less expensive compared to many competitors
- Good image quality and brightness
- Comes with complete accessories
- Made with built-in tripod adapter
- Robust exterior for longevity
- Adjustment of focus upon delivery is quite challenging
- Quite heavy to be carried for traveling
- Quality may be inferior compared to more expensive brands
For people who do not want to spend a fortune for a starter binocular for sky viewing, Olympus offers you a quick option. The Trooper 10×50 is a pretty basic product perfect for people who are not very savvy when it comes to optical instruments. Its 10x magnification offers a decent advantage over the naked eye. You won’t see Saturn’s rings with this gadget, but looking at the Milky Way will certainly be a much more satisfying experience than without it. The BAK-7 lens system produces high-quality images with good contrast, sharpness, and brightness, though not as good as a BAK-4 would. Since they have a 5mm exit pupil, you get pretty good visibility in low light conditions. At the same time, its Porro prism design provides good depth of field and allows more light to pass through. Although this product is a good choice for night viewing, the Trooper 10×50 offers UV protection should you decide to use it when the sun is up.
Even if this bino is not ideal for detailed viewing of single objects in the sky, it’s great for wider and panoramic scenes such as the constellations and the Milky Way. Its 65-degree field-of-view offers a perspective wider than usual. The good thing is that even if you purchase this model primarily for astronomical use, it’s also great for bird watching, cruising, and other daytime activities.
One thing that’s to be loved about this product is its ease of use. Sure it has minimal features compared to other products on our list. However, arguably, it is one of the simplest binocular to operate. No fancy adjustment. You won’t even need a tripod most of the time. Manufactured to last a long time, there is no doubt that you are getting a quality product at a fraction of the price if you purchase the Olympus 118760 Trooper 10×50 DPS I.
- Very affordable compared to its competitors
- Wide angle field of view for panoramic images
- Anti-reflective lens coating produces images of high quality
- UV protection
- Very simple to use
- Lighter and smaller than most astronomy optics
- Excellent exit pupil
- Cannot be used in humid or wet areas since it is not waterproof
- May not be applicable for long range use due to limited magnification
If you haven’t yet chosen which of the products above is suits you, this last one might be worth having a look at. Gosky Titan 20×80 Astronomy Binoculars are specially designed for activities such as sightseeing, bird watching and, of course, star and sky gazing. With its 20×80 specs, you can expect a good level of detail and a high level of brightness. Large BAK-4 prisms allow a lot of light to go through. In addition, its 80mm lens is multi-coated for superb performance.
Some binoculars offer a small eyepiece giving you a hard time looking through it. This is not the case with Titan. Its eyepieces are extremely wide and comfortable. You will also have enough space even if you wear glasses due to the generous eye relief. One great feature of this item is that it comes with a special phone adaptor which you can use to attach your phone or camera and capture remarkable images that you can then keep for yourself or share with others.
To make the binocular robust and last longer, it is built with durable aluminum polycarbonate framework. Also, it is reinforced with rubber armor that protects the device from accidental impact. Keep your binocular safe and clean with all the accessories that will come with it. Expect to receive a protective shield that will safeguard the item from dust and water and a carrying case for portability.
When it comes to user experience, this product will not leave you behind. It comes with an easy to follow user guide for the adjustment of focus. This will be necessary upon unboxing the item. Also, if you want a more stabilized image, you have the option to mount this binocular on a tripod. Upon delivery, this product comes with a tripod adapter for a stabilized hand-free stargazing experience. Weighing 80 ounces, carrying this binocular around may be bit cumbersome, but no nearly as much as the 25×100 products above.
In general, the Titan is very highly rated and users are very pleased with the image quality and the comfortable use that it provides. The ability to snap photos of what you are observing is a huge bonus as well.
- Superb optics with 20x magnification
- Equipped with 80mm multicoated lens for crisp and sharp images
- Extra wide eyepiece for a more comfortable viewing experience
- Comes with accessories and tripod adapter
- Phone camera adapter
- Made with a durable body frame with rubber armor for protection
- A little bit pricey compared to other models with the same features
All in all, your choice of optics will depend the power that you want to get from them, as well as your budget and how portable you want them to be. If you want to get the most out of a starry night, get a 25x device. These are probably the best binoculars for stargazers if that’s their only purpose. If you want to carry them around and use them for daytime activities as well, you’ll be better off with the Eyeskey model an Olympus 10×50. For anything in between, pick one of the remaining models.
Binoculars are not cheap pieces of equipment. The fact that you are willing to spend money just to view the stars up close speaks volume about your passion for astronomy and the infinite night sky. With this buying guide, I hope you were able to equip yourself with the knowledge that you need to consider before making a sound decision. Ultimately, buying a high power binocular is a daunting task. However, with these tips, I hope the task has been made a lot easier. Also remember that purchasing a wonderful binocular is not the end. If you want to use it longer and avoid spending on a new one, keep in mind the tips below. If this review has been helpful to you, don’t forget to share this with your friends. Have an enjoyable time stargazing!
Caring for your Binoculars
Now that I have shared with you some excellent binoculars to help you enjoy your stargazing even better, let me share with you some tips on how to take good care of these items so that you can enjoy using them for a long time.
1. Clean Your Lenses
Clean lenses mean clear images. Hence, cleaning your lenses must be a top priority. Believe it or not, rarely cleaning them is the best way to clean lense. This will minimize the possibility of scratches and other similar damage. If cleaning is essential, use a soft cloth that is usually shipped with the binocular. Also, remember to keep pizza sauces, sodas, dressings and crumbs away from your lenses.
2. Use the Case
Providing a carrying case is not a marketing strategy of companies to convince you to buy the product. Aside from making it easy for you to bring the binoculars every time you travel, carrying cases protect the gadget against dust, water, and even accidental fall. Padded cases minimize the impact and might save your lenses after all.
3. Store Properly
Fogging of lenses is a common problem in many optical devices because they are not stored properly. It is recommended to store them in areas where humidity is low. Also, be keen on any temperature differences. A sudden change in temperature is the primary cause of fogging. Some experts recommend the use of silica gel to avoid this from happening. Simply place a bag of silica gel in the case together with the binocular. Silica absorbs moisture and helps reduce the possibility of fogging.
4. Trust an Expert
Personally, I wouldn’t dare tweak and attempt to repair any defects in my binoculars. I am not confident with my skill in doing so plus the fact that there is a chance that I might make the problem worse. Unless you are an optics expert, I suggest you hiring someone more knowledgeable to maintain your binoculars. They can clean, adjust, and fix issues without adding any harm. Though this entails additional expenses, it will definitely be worth it in the end.