Astronomy binoculars make for a great alternative to telescopes. They are generally smaller, more portable, easier to use and cheaper.
Many recommend starting out with binoculars before investing in a telescope if you are a beginner getting into stargazing. This can be great advice and a good pair of astronomy binoculars will increase the number of stars you can see from a few thousand with the naked eye to several hundred thousand and even some deep sky objects.
Binocular specifications are based on magnification (power) and the diameter of its aperture in millimeters. For example, a pair of 10×50 binoculars has 50mm lenses and a magnification of 10x.
For astronomy needs you should get at least 10×50 – these binoculars balance power with portability. More powerful binoculars of 15×70 or 20×80 are also great, and will provide more power but will be heavier and may require the use of a tripod (not necessarily a bad thing but you should just think about what works best for you in terms of power vs weight/portability).
Below are a number of great binoculars for stargazing that you can buy. These are the most popular and high-quality models available from reliable manufacturers like Celestron, Orion, and Nikon, that will give you what you need in terms of performance and ease of use.
Best binoculars for astronomy – summary table
|Make & model||Specifications||Price (Amazon)|
|1. Skygenius||10×50, low-cost & lightweight|
|2. Nikon Aculon||10×50, high-quality from a trusted manufacturer|
|3. Celestron SkyMaster||25×70, powerful mid-range binoculars|
|4. Orion 51464||20×80, advanced & powerful model|
|5. Orion Giant View||25×100, most powerful & heavyweight|
|6. Celestron SkyMaster||25×100, powerful specialist astronomy binoculars|
|7. Canon||12×36, with image stabilization|
Best binoculars for stargazing – detailed reviews
1. Skygenius 10×50 binoculars
These binoculars are a good starter option if you are after something relatively low-cost that you can just pick up and take outside. They come with a bag, strap and lens caps.
The 10×50 magnification will enable you to see the moon in more detail and many more stars in the night sky, however these are not specialist astronomy binoculars and you won’t be spotting planets or deep-sky objects like galaxies. Think more of a low-cost all-rounder that you might like to have around the house and take on trips rather than a serious piece of astronomy equipment.
These are a good option if you are looking for a first pair to try. They are sturdy and at the price they are offered they are good value 10×50 binoculars.
- 10x magnification
- 50mm lens diameter
- 1.76 pounds weight
2. Nikon Aculon 10×50 binoculars
If you are looking for a premium pair of 10×50 binoculars then this Nikon model is a great option. It’s the same power as the budget options offered above but is made by Nikon who pride themselves in producing high-quality equipment that lasts a long time.
These Nikon binoculars have multicoated eco-glass lenses that give bright and clear images in most lighting conditions, turn-and-slide rubber eyecups to allow for comfortable viewing during long sessions, and a rubber-armored coating gives a non-slip grip, even when wet.
The smooth central focus knob makes these binoculars simple to operate and easy to focus. The premium quality also means that when fully zoomed in the view remains crystal clear, which is something you may lose with a budget option. There are also other good (more powerful) Nikon models available – including the 16×50 Aculon.
- 10 x magnification
- 50mm lens diameter
- 2.79 pounds weight
3. Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 binoculars
This is the first model in this list that are specialist astronomy binoculars from a known astronomy brand (Celestron – who make high-quality telescopes and other equipment). “Giant” binoculars are defined as those that magnify the view 10 times or more and have 70-mm or larger front (objective) lenses and Celestron’s 25×70 SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant binocular arena.
Celestron has designed this model to meet the demands of extended astronomical or terrestrial viewing sessions and the 25×70 version is one of the most popular models in the Skymaster series. They offer large aperture light gathering and so open up more stargazing opportunities and are relatively light but include an adapter so they can be used with a standard camera tripod.
Eye relief on these Celestron binoculars (the distance you hold your eyes away from the eyepieces to see the full field) is 18mm, which is a good distance for higher power binoculars and compatible for glasses wearers.
These are great value for the price with the only downside being that the outer 25% of the field of view can be a little blurry.
The trade-off from above models is a smaller field of view which is greater with the 15×70 binoculars when using by hand, but for astronomical you will need to use a tripod anyway. This model has an adapter to attach to a standard camera tripod – just make sure you get one that is high enough for your height so that you don’t need to stoop too much when using.
- 25 x magnification
- 70mm lens diameter
- 3.25 pounds weight
4. Orion 51464 20×80 binoculars
Orion are also a renowned manufacturer of astronomy equipment like Celestron. These 20x magnification astronomy binoculars with 80mm aperture lenses are high-powered astronomy binoculars and at this power, the planets and their moons are viewable as well as star clusters and deep sky objects.
These Orion binoculars have fully multi-coated optics and BAK 4 porro prisms. The eye relief is 17mm which makes for comfortable viewing (even for glasses wearers).
They are heavy and so will need to be used with a tripod and the adapter to fit a camera tripod is in-built.
- 20 x magnification
- 80mm lens diameter
- 4.7 pounds weight
5. Orion Giant View 25×100 binoculars
These Orion astronomy binoculars are a premium item and are generally priced in a higher bracket than the models listed above.
They are powerful with 100mm objective lenses and 25x magnification, as well as fully multi-coated optics and BAK-4 prisms to provide fantastic viewing. They have 18mm eye relief (so good for eyeglass wearers).
These are Orion binoculars really heavy at 10.1 pounds and so handheld use is not really an option. You will need a sturdy tripod that has the capability of holding something that weighs this much. They have a sliding mounting post so they can slide forward and backward when attached to the tripod to help balance them once mounted.
Whilst these the inbuilt adapter means these binoculars work with standard camera tripods, their weight may mean that you need to look at getting specialist astronomy binocular tripods, like the Orion Paragon or the Orion Monster parallelogram mount & tripod.
To help keep these in perfect condition, they come in a top-quality steel case which is great for storage and safe transportation.
- 25 x magnification
- 100mm lens diameter
- 10.1 pounds weight
6. Celestron SkyMaster 25×100 binoculars
These are the Celestron alternative to the Orion 25×100 covered above. They are premium astronomy binoculars offering serious stargazing power.
With binoculars at this level they are offering as much as top-quality telescopes and will bring galaxies and deep-sky objects into view. They have BaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics as well as individual eyepiece focus to ensure optimal focus position. The body of these Celestron binoculars is water-resistant and they come in a padded carrying case for travel and safe storage.
They are slightly lighter than the Orion 25×100’s but still so heavy that they can only really be used with a quality tripod. The tripod adapter is inbuilt so no need to buy that separately but make sure your tripod can handle nearly 9 pounds of weight (see the tripods linked under no.6 above).
- 25 x magnification
- 100mm lens diameter
- 8.75 pounds weight
7. Canon 12×36 binoculars with image stabilization
These Canon binoculars offer something different from the above options because of the image stabilization function. This means that they minimize any shake and are much easier to use by hand – you just push the image stabilization button and the shaky image steadies. This means that for casual stargazing and astronomy, they can be used without a tripod.
Compared to some of the above models, they are less powerful and less specifically-tailored towards astronomy, but they offer something different that might appeal to many in being more “grab-and-go” and also being better suited for regular sight-seeing or other uses you may have for binoculars.
- 12 x magnification
- 36mm lens diameter
- 1.96 lbs
What are the best astronomy binoculars?
Binoculars make a great alternative to telescopes for astronomy and in many ways are easier to use whilst offering similar viewing capabilities. When thinking about buying binoculars for astronomy you should consider how much use you will get out of them, as well as issues such as the weight, which might not be that obvious but will have an impact on how you use them.
If you are after some low-cost stargazing binoculars that you can use by hand then the Nikon Aculon binoculars and first two Celestron Skymaster options in this list are your best bet. They provide good stargazing power at good value and can be picked up and transported with relative ease.
For the more serious astronomer that wants more power, is prepared to invest more and use a tripod then the last two Orion and Celestron binocular models on this list are recommended. The Canon binoculars on this list offer a great alternative if you are looking for a multi-purpose option.
There are also other premium (i.e. expensive) astronomy binoculars available at the very top range. We would only recommend these if you already really know what you are doing and that you will make the most of the investment. Examples include the Canon 18×50 with image stabilization and the Fujinon Polaris 16×70.
If you want to also consider telescopes, then check out the best telescopes in 2018.
This article was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for June 2018.