If you’re interested in exploring the night sky, you’re going to need the best binoculars for stargazing. Binoculars are better than telescopes for new stargazers because they offer more expansive views, and they’re easier to bring with you when you’re camping or traveling.
It can be tricky to identify which binoculars will work best for stargazing, so we did a deep dive into the Binocular market to identify what specs a binocular should have to provide a crisp view of the night sky.
Keep reading to see our favorite binoculars for stargazing. At the end of this post, we’ll walk you through the specifications that helped us identify the best binoculars for stargazing.
Our Top Picks
Nikon 8248 ACULON A211
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Binoculars
Best for Beginners:
Celestron UpClose G2 8×40 Binocular
Best With Image Stabilization:
Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars
Best for Mounting:
Celestron SkyMaster 20X80 Binocular
The Nikon 8248 ACULON A211 features BaK4 porro prism systems to provide a high-quality image under various lighting conditions, meaning you can stargaze from dawn to dusk or any time you want.
These are also the lightest-weight stargazing binoculars, so you shouldn’t have a problem carrying them around your neck!
They feature an eye relief of 11.8 and turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, so you can easily position your eyes and keep them comfortable during hours of stargazing.
- Exit pupil of 5—ideal for most people
- Weighs only two pounds
- Easy to use
- Lens covers don’t fit well
- Eye relief may be too small for eyeglass wearers
The SkyGenius 10×50 Binoculars are a fantastic choice for stargazers looking to save money. They were designed with aspherical lenses to guarantee excellent light transmission during the night.
These binoculars feature a BaK4 prism, and the lenses use FMC multi-layer broadband green film, so you won’t have to worry about distortion or untrue colors.
The SkyGenius 10×50 Binoculars are also a great choice for eyeglass wearers because you can adjust the eye relief by raising the eyeglass cups.
You can focus in detail over 1000 yards with a range of 367 feet/1000 yards with these binoculars!
- High-quality binoculars for a great price
- Weighs less than two pounds
- Exit pupil of 5—ideal for most people
- Cannot be used in complete darkness
- Takes practice to learn how to align these binoculars for stargazing
Best for Beginners
If you’re entirely new to stargazing, we recommend starting with an 8×40 binocular like the Celestron UpClose G2. The lower magnification and aperture will make it easier to manipulate the binocular.
These porro-prism binoculars allow you to view the night sky clearly, and they feature a wider field of view than many other binoculars (making it easier for new stargazers to adjust to using them).
They feature an eye relief of 12 millimeters and an IPD of 56-72.
- Easy, intuitive design
- Decent price
- The exit pupil of 5—ideal for most people
- Features BK-7 glass
- Eye relief may be too small for glasses wearers
Best with Image Stabilization
If you’re wanting more magnification, then you need a pair of binoculars with image stabilization. The Canon 15×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather binocular is our favorite for stargazing with this feature. It features a 15x zoom, so you can zoom in close on the stars and planets.
These binoculars feature a 15-millimeter eye relief, which may allow you to keep on your glasses while stargazing.
- Weighs less than three pounds
- Image stabilization freezes the image if you have shaky hands
- No tripod is needed for 15x magnifications
- Heavier than other handheld binoculars
Best for Mounting
Sometimes you want to mount your binocular, and that’s when you need the Celestron SkyMaster 20X80 Binocular. These large binoculars will allow 20x magnification.
You can also bundle these binoculars with several types of adapters and tripods, including a smartphone adapter. The smartphone adapter connects your phone to the binoculars, so your phone can capture images through the eyepiece.
These binoculars feature an 18-millimeter eye relief, so glasses wearers won’t have to worry about removing their specs while stargazing.
- Large aperture for long-distance viewing
- Favorite among astronomers who view the sky in very dim conditions
- Limited US lifetime warranty and US-based tech support
- Adults 50+ may have difficulty using these because the exit pupil is only 4
- Must be mounted for optimal use
Best Binoculars for Stargazing Buyer’s Guide
For more detailed specifics about binoculars and how to select the best ones for multiple uses, check out How to Choose Binoculars. The following buyer’s guide provides an overview of what we looked for when choosing the best binoculars for stargazing.
Binoculars’ sizes are calculated by magnification x lens diameter. The best binoculars for stargazing need to have these numbers balanced for optimal use.
Binoculars sized 8×40 or 8×21 offer the same magnification. These binoculars will magnify images 8 times, whereas a 10×50 binocular will magnify 10 times, and so on.
The difference between a binocular that is 8×40 and 8×21 is the lens size in millimeters. The larger 40mm lens will capture more light and transfer that to your eyes.
Best Sizes for Stargazing
The best balances for stargazing are the following:
8×40: This size is the easiest to hold steady. It’s best for first-time stargazers and children. You’ll have no problem seeing Jupiter’s four brightest moons with this size of binocular.
10×42 or 10×50: These are the most popular-sized binoculars for stargazing.
15×70+: It may be tempting to think bigger is better. While you can get a better picture with more magnification and a larger zoom, these binoculars will need to be mounted. They will be too difficult for even the best astronomers to handle in their hands.
The aperture of a binocular tells you the diameter of the front lenses (which is the number listed in the “lens size” section above.
Apertures with less than 35 are intended for daytime viewing and cannot capture enough light for your eyes to see the stars well at night.
The best binoculars for stargazing have apertures of 40 mm or greater.
This is the ratio of aperture to magnification. The exit pupil is calculated by dividing the aperture by magnification. For example, a 10×50 binocular would have an exit pupil of 5.
Exit pupil calculations are extremely important for older stargazers because you don’t want the exit pupil to be larger than your eyes’ pupil. Before age 30, most people have an exit pupil of 7 mm, but we lose 1 mm of our pupil diameter every 10-15 years. After age 50, you want an exit pupil of 5-6 mm.
Many binoculars mention eye relief. This term refers to the distance between your eye and the binocular lens. Ideally, this distance should be between 10 to 20 millimeters.
If your eye is farther away than this range, you won’t be able to see the full image. Alternatively, if your eye is too close, you will see shadows around the image causing it to be unclear.
Higher eye relief is necessary if you wear glasses.
Interpupillary Distance (IPD)
This is the distance between pupils measured from center to center when your eyes are focused in the binoculars. When choosing a pair of binoculars, you need a pair that match up perfectly with your pupils—otherwise, you will experience a dark halo around the sky.
The good news is all binoculars have adjustable IPDs, but lower-quality binoculars are set at smaller IPDs.
Field of View
A bright narrow field is preferable for astronomy binoculars in comparison to a dimly curved one. However, binoculars with too high of magnification may leave you with such a small patch of sky making it impossible to find things.
A six-degree field of view is plenty in a binocular with a 10 magnification.
The optical quality will make it easy to obtain a crisp, defined focus. The best binoculars for stargazing should make this a breeze!
Porro vs Roof Prisms
Binoculars need porro or roof prisms to prevent images from appearing upside down to your eye. Porro-prism binoculars contain two right-angle prisms that offset each other, requiring lenses to be spaced farther apart than eyepieces.
Porro-prism binoculars are bulkier than roof-prism, but they perform better for astronomers because they create a more three-dimensional image than roof prisms.
The prisms in roof-prism binoculars are close together and more costly. They lose light due to reflection, which makes them optimal for daytime bird viewing, but they’re not great for astronomy.
Binoculars with image stabilization are designed to stabilize your view due to binocular movement. They can make it easier to focus binoculars with larger magnifications without needing to use a mount.
Because of their high magnification, binoculars for stargazing often weigh more than birding binoculars. You need to consider how heavy of a binocular you can hold still for some time, or you won’t be able to make out stars and planets.
Look for lightweight binoculars—like the Nikon 8248 ACULON A211—if you plan to be able to stargaze free from monopod or tripod adapters.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Binoculars for Stargazing
Can you use any binoculars for stargazing?
Almost any binocular will allow you to explore the night sky, but some are better than others. Think of it like this—you can take a photo with any camera, but some pictures will be clearer than others depending on the specs of the camera.
What are the differences between BaK-4, BK-7, and K9 binoculars?
You may see these codes referenced on binoculars, and it refers to the type of glass their lenses are made from.
BaK-4 is much more expensive than the other two and refers to a light barium glass. It is often the preferred glass used in binoculars because it provides a higher image quality.
BK-7 and B9 are very similar, and it refers to a type of borosilicate glass that has been used in optical glass products for years. They’re cheaper than BaK-4, and the products are lower quality.
What is a monopod?
A monopod supports stargazing binoculars with just one leg. Many stargazers use monopods instead of tripod adapters to mount their binoculars because they’re less bulky and easier to move around.
Wrapping up the Best Binoculars for Stargazing
We’ve shared with you our favorite binoculars for stargazing. If you’re looking for something easy to use, lightweight, and comfortable on the eyes, we recommend the Nikon 8248 ACULON A211. If you’re a serious astronomer, you’re going to want the Celestron SkyMaster 20X80 Binocular!
Make the most of your new stargazing binoculars by finding the perfect location to explore the night sky. Check out The Best Campsites for Stargazing.
- About the Author
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Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org