Welcome to your astronomy binoculars buying guide. In this guide we will explain why astronomy binoculars are the best option for stargazing, and take a look at the best five astronomy binoculars available. You will find all of the information that you need here to make an informed buying decision.
- 1 Surely a Telescope is the right choice for Stargazing?
- 2 Astronomy Binoculars Comparison Table
- 3 Essential Information about Astronomy Binoculars
- 4 Viewing Expectations
- 5 The 5 Best Astronomy Binoculars
- 6 Celestron Echelon 20×70 Binoculars review
- 7 Celestron 71370 8×42 Granite Binoculars review
- 8 Celestron 72022 SkyMaster DX 8×56 Binoculars review
- 9 Celestron 71335 Nature DX 10×56 Binoculars review
- 10 Celestron 71012 SkyMaster 20-100×70 Zoom Binoculars review
- 11 How to choose the right Astronomy Binoculars for you
Surely a Telescope is the right choice for Stargazing?
People have used telescopes for astronomy for years, but they do have a number of drawbacks. The most obvious one is that they are large. Yes there are small telescopes available but even these are far larger, longer and heavier than astronomy binoculars.
You will also need a tripod or a rocker box to stand your telescope on and keep it steady. Then there is the angling problem, where you have to position this long telescope tube to the exact spot where you need it without your hands shaking and moving it from your target.
The main purpose of a telescope is the gathering of light. It is true to say that they make things look bigger, but when you use increased magnification the object will appear dimmer. This can be very frustrating when you are trying to observe diffused star clusters, galaxies and comets.
A telescope also only has a singular eyepiece meaning that they will only display an area that is small. There can also be a problem with some telescopes presenting the objects upside down and backward. This is like you are using a mirror to watch something.
These days’ many stargazers use astronomy binoculars. A good reason for this is that you can lock both of your eyes in, and with your hands being closer to your face the stability is much better.
The word “binocular” means “both eyes” or “two eyes” and seeing things with both of your eyes is a lot more natural for your brain. Your viewing experience of the stars will be a lot more fulfilling when you use binoculars.
You will get a wider field of view with your binoculars. It will be a lot easier for you to scan for the objects that you want to focus on. Also, you will appreciate more the relationship between objects when you use binoculars. Patterns in the cosmos will become a lot more apparent to you.
There are no upside down and backwards issues with binoculars. You will see the right perspective every time. Binoculars are lighter, shorter and easier to manage than telescopes. You can literally sit in your living room on a clear night and find those heavenly bodies with ease.
Some people will find it hard to believe that you can see nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies without using a telescope. But with today’s powerful astronomy binoculars you can do this. OK, the magnification power isn’t quite up there with the best telescopes, but binoculars are easier to handle and carry around and they cost less too.
Hopefully, you are now convinced that astronomy binoculars are a good alternative to expensive and cumbersome telescopes. Read the rest of this astronomy binoculars buying guide to find out which binoculars that you should choose and why.
Astronomy Binoculars Comparison Table
Essential Information about Astronomy Binoculars
You do not want to choose a pair of astronomy binoculars without knowing what you are looking for. When you are reviewing different pairs you will see a combination such as 7 x 35 or 10 x 50. You need to understand what these numbers mean.
The number on the left (the first number) is the magnification. The number on the right (the second number) is the aperture. The aperture is measured in milimeters and is the diameter size of the big front objective lenses.
There are other numbers to look out for too. The first of these is the field of view. This is important as it will tell you how wide you will be able to see. The convention used to be to show this in feet from a distance of 1,000 yards. These days though it is more often seen in degrees.
If you want to make the conversion from new to old there is a simple formula that you can apply:
1° is equal to 52 feet at a distance of 1,000 yards.
You will find that fields of view vary depending on what type of astronomy binoculars you are looking at. The models with higher power can have smaller fields of view and 2° is quite common. At the other end of the spectrum there are binoculars with a field of view of 10°.
Most models will have a field of view between 5 feet to 8 feet wide. To put this in perspective, hold a golf ball at arm’s length and this is roughly the amount of sky that you will be able to observe.
It is important that you understand what you will be able to see with your new astronomy binoculars. With the naked eye you should be able to see around 3,000 stars if the night is dark and clear and you are in the countryside. If you were to use a pair of 7 x 35 binoculars this will expand to around 100,000 stars. And 7 x 35 is not that powerful!
What about if you are in the suburbs and the sky has light pollution? Well with the naked eye you could expect to see up to 200 stars. A decent pair of astronomical binoculars will help you see many more times that figure as they will cut through the murkiness.
With the right binoculars, you will be able to see much more exciting objects that just a few random stars. You may be able to see nebulae, galaxies in the distance, double stars, clusters of stars of all shapes and sizes and more. You just need to use the best guidebooks or sky maps to locate what you want to see.
There is so much on offer with these binoculars, and there are always changes going on in the sky. What you can see in summer will vary considerably to what you can see in the other seasons.
The 5 Best Astronomy Binoculars
When you are deciding on which astronomical binoculars to buy you need to take a number of different factors into account. If you purchase a set of binoculars that does not have the aperture that you require then you will end up disappointed. There is also the issue of quality – you will want your binoculars to last you a long time.
We have taken all of these factors into consideration when coming up with our top 5 astronomy binoculars. You will notice that the same manufacturer, Celestron, makes all 5 models. This is because they provide binoculars of the highest quality at good prices. Here are the best astronomy binoculars from a buying point of view.
Celestron Echelon 20×70 Binoculars review
If you are serious about astronomy then we believe that you should go for the very best astronomy binoculars that you can in terms of quality. This is a serious hobby (or even profession) that you are embarking on, so make the right investment in binoculars and you will never regret it.
For the best astronomical results, you need high powered binoculars as well. The best binoculars will serve you well in even the poorest light. If you know that you are going to experience poor light conditions, then buying just any astronomy binoculars is not going to work for you.
Enter the Celestron Echelon 20×70 Binoculars. In 2015 they won the award for the best astronomy and long distance binoculars. And this was certainly justified. While it is fair to say that these binoculars will cost you more than others, you are certainly getting what you pay for here.
The Echelon series of binoculars are handcrafted. Built in the United States using the highest quality Japanese optics, the Echelon series is all about quality – image quality, quality of the materials used and the build quality.
The objective lenses on these binoculars have a large aperture of 70 millimeters. The magnification is powerful at 20 x and the field of view is 3° (157 feet at 1,000 yards). The binoculars are hardwearing and fully multi-coated and have 19.5 millimeter eye relief.
Ergonomics has been a prime consideration in the design of the Echelon binoculars. When you hold them they will feel very natural in your hands. They are comfortable too, which as just as well because these powerful binoculars are pretty heavy. The weight has been reduced by using thin arches instead of a central hinge and this has not compromised strength.
There is a rubber casing on these binoculars for added protection of the lenses, and this also serves to improve the level of grip considerably. The rubber is thicker than on other binoculars too, which means that you will have more protection against impact.
When you are using large and powerful astronomy binoculars the balance is very important. You will be using your binoculars for long periods of time, and with the Echelon, there are depressions smoothed for your thumbs. You will find that a good balance is a lot easier to achieve because of this.
This setup is very effective on this model and you will end up with binoculars that are very well balanced. This means that you can keep the binoculars stable easily, and using them in the same position does not become too tiring for longer time periods.
The chassis of the Echelons is aluminum made. Most of the more inexpensive models will have a polycarbonate chassis. Aluminum is stronger than polycarbonate, and this translates to binoculars that have a quality solid feel to them which is very reassuring.
Sealing is another high-quality factor with this model. The binoculars are waterproof and are fully sealed. Purged with nitrogen to extract all of the internal air, this has been replaced with nitrogen gas which means that the internal optics are sealed and will not fog. There is no chance of dust particles getting into the optics and spoiling the view.
There is a system for individual focusing with the Echelon. You will need to turn each eyepiece individually to obtain the best focus. For astronomy viewing it is likely that you will set the focus to infinity and therefore you will not have to make many adjustments if any when you are star gazing.
You will get a long depth of view with these binoculars without fixed focus. You also have the added flexibility of being able to view close objects clearly by making simple adjustments to the eyepieces.
Adjustable eyepieces are one of the most common components to go wrong on binoculars. The eyepieces on the Echelon are stronger than most and appear to be made from metal rather than plastic. The adjustments are also smooth, but there is enough resistance to make fine changes.
Viewing is comfortable with the Echelon due to the rubber eyecups which are both roll up and roll down. The eyecups are larger than normal at a 50 millimeter diameter. The rubber used is pretty soft which adds to the comfort levels.
You have an eye relief of 19.5 millimeters which is quite long and will suit most people. It is easy to use the Echelon’s while wearing glasses, as all you need to do is to roll the cup down and place your eyes at the right distance behind the lenses for a great view that is uninterrupted.
When you choose higher magnification binoculars you will end up with a narrower field of view. These Celestron Echelon 20×70 Binoculars have a field of view of 3°, and when you compare this to other high powered astronomy binoculars this is pretty impressive.
These binoculars will give you a high quality image even in challenging light conditions thanks to the large aperture lenses and the high spec coated glass. These are excellent astronomy performers even in low light.Get the latest price for the Celestron Echelon 20×70 Binoculars
Celestron 71370 8×42 Granite Binoculars review
If you do not have the budget for the Celestron Echelon binoculars then you should take a look at the Celestron 71370 8×42 Granite Binoculars as an alternative. These are not as powerful as the Echelon but do have some great features for astronomical viewing.
Although the Granite model only has a magnification factor of 8 x it will still provide some impressive results. The aperture at 42 millimeters is good and will let in a fair degree of light. They will perform better in low light conditions than other binoculars in the same price bracket.
The low light condition performance is due to the use of an exit pupil rated at 5.25 and a twilight factor rating of 18.3. The fact that these binoculars also have good coatings on the prisms and lenses means more effective use of the available light. Essentially they will transmit more light to your eyes.
Like the Echelon range, ergonomics are a solid factor of the Granite binoculars. They also have rubber indents well placed for your thumbs which make holding the binoculars very comfortable. These binoculars are lighter than there more powerful counterparts, so holding them for longer will be less of a problem.
Good design on the Granite bins is evident in many places and there are weight savings achieved by using an open hinge. This adds to the comfort factor. You will be able to hold the binoculars a lot more tightly as you can wrap your hand around a barrel.
The balance is good with these glasses too. It was very comfortable to hold the glasses steady for considerable periods of time even when looking upwards into the night sky. Weighing in at just 24 ounces (around 680 grams) you will find these binoculars easy on your arms as well.
Don’t be put off by the light weight. Quite often light binoculars are often synonymous with pore quality, but this is certainly not the case with the Granite’s. Magnesium is used to make these binoculars which is very strong while being lighter than aluminum.
The build quality of the Granite binoculars is very good and the glasses have a strong and robust feeling about them. The housing of the bins has an armoring made from black rubber that is really tough.
This armor helps to protect your binoculars from impacts that may occur on a day to day basis. Another good feature about the black armor is that it does not reflect as much as other materials and colors. There is no arsenic in the manufacturing process so they are environmentally friendly as well.
These bins are waterproof to an extent. They will certainly be able to withstand the rain and other elements, but taking them in the swimming pool with you is not a good idea. They will certainly withstand the ingress of moisture in most situations, and will also prevent the ingress of dust.
Like the Echelon, the Granite has gone through the nitrogen purging process to remove all of the internal air. Nitrogen gas replaces the air and this will stop any fogging internally. This is especially useful if you are in an environment with high humidity or quick changes in temperature.
Eye cups made from metal have rubber coatings that are soft and thin. These are reasonably comfortable on your face. There is a smooth twist up control, and a fixed intermediate stop will assist glasses wearers. Eye relief on the Granite measures 17 millimeters which will again be a benefit for glasses wearers.
Focusing is easy with the Granite binoculars thanks to the easy to use wheel which is just the right size for the job. The wheel is metal, which is a refreshing change from plastic, and your grip on the wheel is assisted through the use of rubberized strips.
Extra low dispersion glass is used which improves image sharpness and will alleviate color fringing. You would normally only find extra low dispersion glass used in binoculars that cost a lot more than the Granite’s, so this is an impressive feature.
A field of view of 8.1° (426 feet at 1,000 yards) is also very impressive. You will be able to make all kinds of connections in the night sky with this level of view. Some of the most expensive mid range binoculars cannot match this.Get the latest price for the Celestron 71370 8×42 Granite Binoculars (Black)
Celestron 72022 SkyMaster DX 8×56 Binoculars review
You will find that the Celestron 72022 SkyMaster DX 8×56 Binoculars provide good astronomical viewing at a very reasonable price. These binoculars are good quality medium power glasses, versatile enough for a variety of other purposes such as sporting events, bird watching and hiking.
The SkyMaster DX’s are lightweight and this model is only 35 ounces (around 993 grams). This means that you will be able to use them for longer periods stargazing than you will with the heavier more powerful models.
The cushioned lenses with rubberized bumpers mean that you will experience a good level of comfort from this even for extended periods of tracking those star movements. The comfort of your hands has been taken into consideration too, with the housing of these binoculars which has a rubberized finish.
The rubberized coating provides a great grip and the binoculars will be less lightly to slip even on the warmest of nights. All in all the ergonomics are good, and you should be able to keep the bins steady while you are stargazing.
A 56 millimeter aperture means that you will get a good amount of light into the lenses and this performs reasonably well under low light conditions. With an 8 x magnification factor you will be able to see a surprising amount in reasonable detail.
As with its other Celestron cousins, the SkyMaster DX’s have all of the internal air purged out using nitrogen purging when they are constructed. This ensures that residual water vapor is not a problem.
The binoculars are both waterproof and fog proof according to Celestron. The housing of the SkyMaster has a watertight, nitrogen filled seal, and this prevents moisture ingress and fogging problems. The waterproofing level is adequate enough to prevent the rain getting in but probably not sufficient for a full immersion in water.
There are metal elements on the SkyMaster such as the focus wheel and the ocular ring which you will need to protect from moisture as much as possible. Exposing these components to salty air or high humidity will mean that they could rust fairly easily.
The SkyMaster has a field of view of 5.8° (301 feet at 1,000 yards) which is not as impressive as the Granite range. You will be paying less money for the SkyMaster DX though. Having said that it is larger than a lot of the more powerful astronomy binoculars, so you will be able to see a fair amount of the night sky.
If you are a glasses wearer then you will be able to use the SkyMaster’s pretty comfortably. There is an 18 millimeter eye relief which should be more than adequate to meet the needs of most people who wear glasses. The image with these binoculars is good and clear due to the large exit pupils used.
The optics are fully multi coated which is impressive for a pair of binoculars in this price range. A porro prism delivers the 8 x magnification. You can quickly make adjustments using the twist up eye cups which are multi position, and this really helps to provide relief to the eyes after a lengthy stargazing session.
There is a very good objective to magnification ratio of 7:1 with these bins which will provide you with good astronomical viewing. But you need to understand that the build quality with these binoculars is not up to the same standard as the Granite and the Echelon.
What you do get though is a rugged set of binoculars that you can easily use for stargazing without breaking the bank. The poor light performance is good and you will have enough magnification to see most of the objects that you want.Get the latest price for the Celestron 72022 SkyMaster DX 8×56 Binoculars
Celestron 71335 Nature DX 10×56 Binoculars review
With their Nature DX range of binoculars, Celestron are aiming at new and intermediate stargazers who want to get the best value for their money. The quality of these binoculars is good, and there are a lot of good features that will enhance your night viewing pleasure.
The DX Range is just above the standard Celestron range of binoculars when it comes to price, but they are superior to this range in a number of ways. Some of the best features include optics that are fully multi coated, the use of BaK-4 roof prisms, a wide field of view and full waterproofing.
You will find that this Nature DX model has pretty good performance under low light conditions due to its larger 56 millimeter aperture lens. It has more magnification power than other Celestron models too with a factor of 10 x.
The build quality is not as good as other models though. There is a roof prism design with a central hinge for the two barrels and a standard focus wheel. The chassis is polycarbonate which makes the binoculars fairly light at around 40 ounces (1134 grams). It is strong and durable but not as strong as an aluminum or magnesium chassis.
There is a dark green rubber armor that covers most of the exterior of the binoculars. This will provide a reasonable degree of protection, but it is not as good as the more expensive models. You can grip the binoculars well due to the light texturing of the barrels.
Another comfort detail is the use of indents for your fore-fingers situated on the body top. There are no thumb indents but raised textured areas that provide the ideal positions for your thumbs when using the binoculars. When your thumbs are in the right position you will find that the glasses are well balanced and the stability is good.
There are the normal Celestron waterproofing standards on the Nature DX. This means that purging of the internal takes place during manufacture and nitrogen gas (which is dry) used to stop moisture ingress and the fogging of the internals.
The eyecups on the Nature DX are 6 millimeters wide and covered in soft rubber that is pretty thick. When you push the eyecups to your face you will find that they are comfortable. There is a twist up mechanism with the eye cups and this is smooth to operate.
Wearing glasses with the Nature DX is not a problem as there is 17.5 millimeters of eye relief. There is one intermediate fixed stop which allows you to use the binoculars with glasses effectively while maintaining a good field of view.
The field of view angle with these binoculars is just over 7° (378 feet at 1,000 yards) which is about average for binoculars in the 10 x 56 category. However you will be able to see quite a large element of the night sky with this kind of viewing angle.
Roof prisms that are Bak-4 glass in the Nature DX range and these are of higher quality than other comparably priced binoculars. Also impressive is the fact that these bins have lenses that are fully multi coated. Anti reflection coatings should translate to around 90% (up to 95%) of the available light producing a sharp image where the contrast is also good.
To sum up the Nature DX the build quality is good for the price that you are paying. The binoculars are lightweight and you can achieve good balance when you are holding them. The brightness of the images produced is also impressive for bins in this price range, and stargazing should be a real treat for you.
If you are limited in budget or just starting out then this Nature DX has a good combination of power and aperture for the money. There are no major weaknesses to speak of and the field of view is better than a lot of binoculars that are a lot more expensive.Get the latest price for the Celestron 71335 Nature DX 10×56 Binoculars (Green)
Celestron 71012 SkyMaster 20-100×70 Zoom Binoculars review
If you are looking for heavier astronomy binoculars with a lot of power then the SkyMaster 20-100 x 70 could be ideal for you. These bad boys weigh 156 ounces (over 4400 grams) and unless you have muscles of steel you will need a tripod to use them effectively. These binoculars come with a tripod adapter for use with monopods or tripods.
The main advantage of these Celestron Zoom astronomy binoculars is that they are really powerful and ideal for astronomical viewing and the price will not break the bank. Quality BaK-4 prisms of high transmission are used, and the optics are all multi coated for improved image quality.
The 70 millimeter aperture means that you will get a lot of light entering the lens, so low light conditions are not too much of a problem. The magnification is very powerful and you will be able to see some amazing things with these binoculars.
There is no rubber coating on the body of these binoculars like most others have. They have a metallic finish which provides a really good grip. The metal is fairly rough so when you have the binoculars in your hands they feel secure. In typical night time temperatures the binoculars feel really cold.
The field of vision with these SkyMaster zoom bins is 1.25° (65 feet at 1,000 yards). With more powerful binoculars it is always going to be the case that the field of view will be less than mid range bins. Fortunately there is not that much movement in the night sky normally so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The 20 x magnification is powerful itself, but you can really crank up the power by using the power change lever with your thumb. At 100 x magnification the results are outstanding. If you want to observe a smaller nebula or take a closer look at globular clusters then it is all possible with these bins.
At the highest magnification rate (100 x) the field of vision plummets to 0.25°. If you were looking at the moon then it would fill the field of view entirely. This is not a bad thing as you can see craters clearly as well as other objects.
Eye relief is very good on these binoculars at 22 millimeters. They also have a good twilight factor of 37. So if you wear glasses there should be no problem with you using these zoom bins. There are rubber cups for comfort and these will roll down for eyeglass wearers.
Images with the Celestron 71012 SkyMaster are crisp and clear. You will experiences images that are really bright and sharp. High quality lenses in these zoom binoculars provide the image quality.
The binoculars have two independent eyepieces that provide focus adjustment. They are rotatable through 450°. On medium power binoculars you will find diopters, but these are different. With these powerful SkyMaster’s it is like having two powerful telescopes sitting side by side.
These binoculars are not waterproof so you will need to take extra care of them when you are using them outdoors. They do not have the nitrogen based water resistant features of the other Celestron models.
If all you are looking for is long distance binoculars for astronomy, and you are happy with them being in a fixed location on a tripod, then these SkyMaster zoom bins could be the ideal choice for you.Get the latest price for the Celestron 71012 SkyMaster 20-100×70 Zoom Binoculars
How to choose the right Astronomy Binoculars for you
This astronomy binoculars buying guide would not be complete if we didn’t provide you with advice on the best type of binoculars to buy. Binoculars are preferred to telescopes as they do not suffer from the same complexities. They will still allow you to see Jupiter and her moons, our moon, nebulae and many stars. Using both eyes instead of one enhances your visual experience.
The Aperture is important
With astronomy binoculars the objective lens size, the aperture, is one of the most important factors. This is because they are the key to providing the brightness and clarity that you will need. Experts in the industry will tell you that for celestial viewing you shouldn’t use binoculars that have an aperture size of less than 50 millimeters.
Astronomy is obviously a night activity and the ability of your binoculars to capture the maximum light is very important. The larger the aperture size, the more light you will be able to capture – it’s that simple. It will mean the difference between being able to see those feint objects and not seeing them at all.
What about Magnification power and Exit Pupil size?
When it comes to magnification power this is a different ball game. You do not necessarily need the most powerful astronomy binoculars. The quality of the view through your binoculars does not really change that much by having more magnification power.
With less power your binoculars will have a wider field of view. So if you are interested in looking at a complete range of objects in the night sky rather than one object then this is an advantage. Focusing on a single planet maybe better left to a telescope.
With higher magnification you will find that the exit pupil is smaller. You can calculate the exit pupil by dividing the aperture by the magnification power. With a smaller exit pupil you are more likely to experience images that are not as clear and they will be darker.
The age of the user is an important factor when it comes to the exit pupil. The ideal scenario is that the bright disk of the exit pupil will fit perfectly into your eye. But we all have different eyes open diameters at night. People under the age of thirty tend to have pupils that measure around 7 millimeters. After thirty, around a millimeter is lost every ten to fifteen years.
So for an older person there is no advantage in using astronomy binoculars that have a larger exit pupil. The extra light that the larger pupil generates will be totally lost. This means that the higher magnification binoculars make more sense for the older crowd.
Waterproofing is an Advantage
All but one of our top 5 astronomy binoculars has very effective waterproofing. Water is all around us even if you live in a hot place. Temperature swings happen all of the time, and with inferior binoculars this can very easily lead to condensation.
You can often experience rain at night when you are stargazing. You do not want the rain to penetrate your binoculars and start fogging things up. Most of the modern models have rubber protection. Some manufacturers go a step further and will purge air from the binoculars using nitrogen.
Go for better Optics
Astronomy binoculars that have mediocre optics will not be able to deliver the clear and crisp images that you desire. The quality of the optics used is paramount, and generally the more money you are prepared to pay the higher the quality of the optics used.
Look carefully at astronomy binocular specs to see if they have coated lenses. Manufacturers who offer multi coated lenses are the best to go for. Also identify the type of prisms in the binoculars.
The most commonly used prisms are “roof prisms” and the more compact models will use these types. “Porro” prisms are a step up from this and found in astronomy binoculars that you can classify as “high end” models.
How do you intend to use your Astronomy Binoculars?
Do you want to use your binoculars for other activities during the daytime such as bird watching or taking to concerts and sports events? If so then the lower powered and lighter models will be the best for you.
Do you want to focus on particular objects in the night sky? In this case, the higher powered astronomy binoculars are the way to go. Remember the higher the power, the heavier the binoculars are likely to be.
Heavier binoculars will put more of a strain on your body when you are gazing upwards. You should consider getting a decent tripod for extended periods of use. Some of the best models are powerful and reasonably lightweight which gives you the best of both worlds.
This astronomy binoculars buying guide has provided you with all of the important information that you need to make the right purchase decision. We have provided you with in depth reviews on the 5 best pairs of binoculars in terms of quality, performance and price.
If you are really into astronomy and will dedicated to it for a long time then you should be prepared to invest in the highest quality binoculars that you can afford. If you are just starting out then you might want to go for the lower powered options and then move up to the top model when you are more experienced.