Binoculars – Every stargazer should own a pair!
Best Binoculars: We certainly think of telescopes when stargazing and exploring the night sky. But binoculars are more useful than telescopes in many situations. They come in various shapes and sizes. Which are the best binoculars for stargazing and astronomy?
Choosing The Right Size
Size matters when it comes to choosing stargazing binoculars. Basically, the bigger they are the more magnified or closer the image will be.
Larger binoculars also capture more light. This makes them ideal for stargazing.
Small (less than 10 x 50) aren’t really much good for astronomical use. Smaller pairs tend to be even more useful for terrestrial observing, like bird spotting etc.
Consequently, the only caveat with larger binoculars is weight. You will need a tripod to support them and keep them steady due to heaviness. Handheld use is only really doable for short periods.
Magnification is the first number when describing size e.g 15 x.
The second number is the size of the individual objective lenses (bigger lenses on the front) e.g x 75.
Larger/ stronger magnifications can narrow the field of view compared to lower magnifications. Therefore, the image in a pair of 25 x 75 binoculars will be narrower than that of a 15 x 75 pair.
This is just a personal choice, however. The larger the objective lenses, the more light is gathered.
Which are the best binoculars for stargazing?
As far as choosing the best binoculars for you. The main factors are going to be weight and magnification. So keep this in mind when choosing.
I have used many different pairs and types. For quality, and usability reasons I recommend Celestron Skymaster Binoculars. There are others out there, but Celestron’s tick all the boxes. Not to mention they are good value and very popular.
We will start with the smallest size first and move up through the larger pairs.
Best Binoculars for smaller observers and terrestrial observing
With a large 60mm objective lens, the SkyMaster 12x60mm Binoculars offer amazing light gathering capabilities. Ideal for stargazing as well as a range of land based applications such as bird watching.
Full tripod adaptability and a handy included carry case make the binoculars perfectly portable. A protective rubber coating ensures ultra-firm grip through the worst of weather conditions. More info
Best Binoculars for General Astronomy Use
Highly Recommended! These Skymaster 15x 70 Binoculars feature large 70 mm objective lens. Maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions.
They produce an ultra sharp focus across the field you are viewing. The large focus knob provides easy focusing. The multi-coated optics provide sharp, clear views.
These can be used terrestrially and are perfect for astronomical viewing. Rubber covering provides comfort, protection and a secure grip. There is an integrated tripod adapter rod for ultra-stable tripod mounting. More info
Best Binoculars for size and magnification
These Skymaster 25x 70 Binoculars feature large 70 mm objective lens. This gives maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions. Producing an ultra sharp focus across the field you are viewing. This version has all of the features of the 15x 70 as listed above, with a higher magnification of 25x. Similar in size and weight to the 15x 70’s with 25x magnification and a narrower field of view compared to the 15x model. Great for closer views of Jupiter and its moons, Rings of Saturn and deep sky objects . More info
Best for increased magnification and light gathering ability
Even larger than the previously listed versions with the same features included. A lot more light gathering ability due to giant 80mm objective lenses and massive 20x magnification. See more, closer with these extremely powerful windows to the universe. More info
Maximum Magnification and light gathering ability
25x magnification with massive 100mm fully coated objective lenses. Individual Eyepiece Focus to ensure optimal focus position and multi-coated optics for sharp, clear views. Suitable for long-range terrestrial or astronomical viewing. Bring objects closer and brighter! Protective rubber covering for ultra-firm grip. Integrated tripod adapter rod for ultra-stable tripod mounting. Long eye relief, deluxe padded carrying case. More info
A tripod is recommended for extended use with smaller binoculars and is a necessity with larger pairs.
Any photographic tripod will do. All you need to do is attach the binoculars to the tripod with the supplied adapter. Tripod adapters are easily available If yours didn’t come with one. I use a cheap and cheerful lightweight tripod and hang a heavy weight on its hook to add more stability if needed.
All of the above binoculars will almost certainly benefit from a good sturdy tripod! They are large and heavy and even the burliest stargazer will become fatigued quickly. Resulting in shaky difficult observing.
I recommend the Hama Star 63 tripod as a start. This is purely due to it being lightweight and really cheap! Many photographers will argue that it isn’t very stable. This is correct but can be overcome by placing a heavy weight/ object on the hook provided to stabilise the tripod and remove vibrations. The alternative is buy a more expensive and sturdy tripod. There are some here.
Binocular Mounts/ adapters
Depending on the offers on at the time of purchase or what is included, a mount will also be required if you are using a tripod.
The mount simply attaches to a threaded mounting point. It also attaches to the tripod in the same manner as a camera. They are very simple and easy to set up.
Some mounts are made of plastic and can be flimsy. Therefore, I recommend using the metal versions which are a little more expensive. Well worth it due to being much more sturdy. See a range here.
For shake-free viewing over a long period or static observation from a mount or tripod.