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Astronomy binoculars make for a great alternative to telescopes.
They are generally smaller, more portable, easier to use, and cheaper.
The Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 Binoculars are a perfect option that will work for both beginners and intermediate users.
Below are a number of great models for stargazing, from cheaper beginner options, to more advanced pairs that will cost more but open up greater viewing opportunities.
Last update on 2021-01-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you are looking for a good pair of beginners binoculars for astronomy then this model is a great option and offers a step up from the basic option above.
“Giant” binoculars are defined as those that magnify the view 10 times or more and have 70-mm or larger front (objective) lenses.
Celestron’s SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant astronomy binocular arena are available in a number of different models (see our hands-on review of the 20 x 80 SkyMaster Binoculars).
Celestron has designed this binocular range 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 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 the above model is a smaller field of view which is greater with the 7×50 binoculars when using by hand, but with these you’ll be able to see much more and using a tripod will make sense.
This model needs an adapter to attach to a standard camera tripod – just make sure yours 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 lbs weight
These basic binoculars are made by manufacturer Celestron, who are one of the leading manufacturers of telescopes and other high-quality astronomy equipment.
The 7×50 magnification is about the minimum you will need for astronomy, but these binoculars have a good wide field of view and you will be able to see the moon in more detail, some of the planets of our solar system, satellites (and the International Space Station) passing overhead, meteors and comets, and many more stars in the night sky.
These are light enough for most people to use just by hand and given the light weight and lower cost, these would also make great astronomy binoculars for kids to use in your backyard or on trips.
- 7 x magnification
- 50mm lens diameter
- 2 lbs weight
A great option if you want the best of both worlds – i.e. both high magnification and a wide field of view is to go for binoculars with a zoom function.
This means that you can have the magnification set from x20 up to x140. Having it on a lower setting means that your view will be less zoomed in, and one of the benefits of this is that you will see a wider expanse of the sky.
This can be good for two reasons:
- it is better for scanning the sky for things like meteor showers
- it can make finding objects in the sky easier before zooming into them
Of course, higher magnification is great if you want to look closely at objects like the moon. Therefore, these Barksa binoculars can be a great option.
- 20-140 x magnification
- 80mm lens diameter
- 8.13 lbs weight
Orion are also a renowned manufacturer of astronomy equipment like Celestron.
These are high-powered with 25x magnification with 100mm aperture lenses and will provide a great viewing experience for spotting the planets and their moons, as well as star clusters and deep sky objects.
They have fully multi-coated optics and BAK 4 Porro Prisms.
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 is in-built, so no need to buy separate accessories.
- 25 x magnification
- 100mm lens diameter
- 10.1 lbs weight
The Vixen BT81S-A Astronomy Binoculars are the premium option.
These are advanced astronomical binoculars with extremely high magnification, but remain relatively light.
For best use they should be used with a tripod and can be bought as a package including this and eyepieces.
- 162 x magnification
- 81mm lens diameter
- 9 pounds lbs
1. Can you use regular binoculars for astronomy viewing?
For stargazing and night sky viewing specialist astronomical binoculars are best.
They don’t have to be expensive (see the Celestron Cometron 7×50 model above), but the most popular regular binoculars are generally compact binoculars.
These are great for birdwatching and similar daytime pursuits but don’t have the light-gathering ability for dark skies and astronomy.
2. What is best for astronomy – Binoculars vs Telescopes?
If you are a beginner getting into stargazing, 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 planets and deep-sky objects.
Binoculars make a great alternative to telescopes and in many ways are easier to use whilst offering similar viewing capabilities as 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 but there are also many great telescopes available for beginners.
If you want to also consider telescopes, then check out our article on the best telescopes for beginners.
3. What do the binocular specifications mean? What do I need for stargazing?
Binocular specifications are based on the magnification and aperture of the model. So “20×70” binoculars means a twenty times magnification and 70mm aperture. Read on for more details on this.
Magnification in binoculars refers to how many times closer the object you are viewing is.
So, 20×70 binoculars means you will be viewing objects twenty times closer.
Aperture refers to the light gathering capacity of the binoculars.
It is measured in the diameter of its lenses in millimeters. So, 20×70 binoculars have 70mm diameter lenses.
Essentially, the larger the aperture, the greater the light gathering. This is especially important for viewing far off astronomical objects.
Field of view
The field of view refers to how wide the span of sky you will see and relates to magnification.
The wider the field of view, the lower the magnification. So you can see more of the sky, but you are further away from viewing far off objects.
Therefore, low magnification binoculars, like the 7×50 Celestron Cometron binoculars featured above are best for use by hand to scan the sky and look out for astronomical events like comets.
High magnification is better for zoning in on far off objects with precision but you will need to use a tripod.
The quality of lenses also has a factor in the clarity of the images you will view through the binoculars.
For instance, with the Celestron SkyMaster vs Echelon binoculars, there are models that offer the same magnification and aperture, but the difference is in the lens quality that results in crisper, clearer images with the Echelon range.
Overall, the higher the magnification, the closer objects will be, the higher the aperture, the brighter and clearer they will be.
Higher magnification does result in a narrower field of view though – so more suitable for focussing in on specific objects (planet, galaxies, etc), rather than scanning large swathes of the sky.
For binocular astronomy, high magnification and a large aperture will be what you want.
The trade-off is that the higher these are, generally the more expensive they will be.
Other factors to look out for are whether they are waterproof – really useful for outdoor sessions. And having an in-built tripod adapter – if not you’ll need to buy a separate adapter (they are generally not expensive though).
4. What can you see with astronomy binoculars?
A good, basic pair of binoculars (for example, with 10 x magnification) will enable you to see hundreds of thousands of stars in the milky way, the moon, and the planets of the solar system.
A premium pair of specialist astronomy binoculars (for example, with 20 or 25 x magnification) should give you the capability to go beyond this and see deep sky objects (far off galaxies and nebulae). This will require some practice and learning though.
5. How to use astronomy binoculars?
When you first start astronomy with binoculars, there is a small number of adjustments that you will need to do to get them set up properly for your own eyes. All the models above include instructions that describe how to do it, and you can find more info online if you need it.
How you use them will also depend on what type you have. If you have a smaller hand-held pair (like the Celestron Cometron 7×50) then you will be freely using them to scan the sky. If you have a larger model (like all the others on this list), you will need to attach them to a tripod and you can then target specific objects in the night sky to see.
Free apps like Stellarium are great for working out what is in the sky above you any one night (see our article on the best apps to use).
6. Do I need a tripod for astronomy binoculars?
To get the most out of heavier, specialist binoculars then you will need to use them with a tripod.
This is because you will be using them like a telescope – targeting objects in the night sky with the binoculars staying fixed in one place.
Orion and Celestron manufacture their own models but a regular camera tripod should work.
Some binoculars have the adapter to fix them to a tripod built-in, but for others you may need to buy an adapter.
You can get a:
See also our article on the best tripods.
7. Can I take photos through astronomy binoculars?
Astrophotography with binoculars can be done with an adapter to attach your smartphone to the eyepiece of the binoculars.
In this situation, you will need to be using the binoculars on a tripod to keep them steady when the image is being taken, especially since you may need to take a long exposure to get the picture.
Smartphone adapters for binoculars are available for sale and you can see our case study of using these with a pair of Celestron SkyMaster binoculars.
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 first Celestron Cometron option 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.
However, for most people looking to make a serious purchase, the Celestron SkyMaster range of binoculars will be most suitable. They offer great value in terms of viewing ability compared to price.
For the more serious astronomer that wants more power, is prepared to invest more and use a tripod then the more powerful models will be suitable.
As you can see in the picture above, I have landed on having two pairs – one basic small pair 10×50 for hand-held use (like the Celestron Cometron model), and a larger Celestron SkyMaster model to use with a tripod for more targeted viewing.