Best Binoculars for Stargazing 2018 – Buyer’s guide & Reviews

On a clear dark night, sitting in a recliner chair and gazing at the celestial bodies and wishing for a spacewalk? Well, a pair of good binoculars can get you closer to your dream. But you need to pick right binoculars to have a good experience. There are many manufactures making a variety of binoculars to suit for specific activities and needs. What to look for in a binocular? What factors should you consider before you get one? We will look into details here.

A Quick look at best Astronomy Binoculars

Product

Our Rating

Price

Celestron SkyMaster 25x100

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Celestron SkyMaster

15x70

Nikon ACULON 10x50

Orion Giant 25x100

Celestron SkyMaster 12x60

What to look for in astronomical binoculars?

Here are some specs you need to consider for astronomical binoculars. For those who are not familiar with these specifications and wondering what those numbers on the binoculars mean.

What do the numbers (ex: 15x70 ) mean? 

The first number (here, 15) mean magnification. Magnification is also referred as power. The more the magnification number, the bigger & the closer image appear. Most of the binoculars used for the general purpose have magnification from 6-12. These are usually used to observe things which are at a distance on the ground. The farther the object we observe is, the higher the magnification we want.

The second number (here, 70) means the size of the objective lens in the millimeters. The objective lens of the binoculars is the lens which is away from the eyes when view. This is the bigger lens. The size of this lens decides how much light enters the binoculars i.e how brighter the view is. Most of the binocular used during the daytime have this size between 25-50mm. Since we are using our binoculars at the night, we need as much as light enter into our binoculars.

Field of view

This number indicates how wide you can view. It is usually mentioned in ft at 1000 yards. Ex: 342 feet @ 1000 yard. Or its also mentioned in degrees. Ex: 6.2 degrees. For an idea, the moon is about ½ degree wide.

The bigger the magnification number the smaller the field of view gets.

Exit Pupil

If you hold binoculars at distance from your eyes, you will see a small circle on the eyepiece lens.  That’s the light reaching eyepiece from the objective lens and that will be the light falling on your eye. Exit pupil gives an idea of the brightness of the binoculars. The bigger the exit pupil, the brighter the binocular.

How to find out exit pupil? When you divide lens size by magnification number (power), you get exit pupil.

Exit pupil = diameter of objective lens / magnification number.

For a 10X50 binocular, the exit pupil is 50/10 = 5.

Age Vs Exit pupil

Exit pupil should roughly match your eye pupil. And the size of the eye pupil decreases with age. For a teenager, pupils can open wider to 8mm (diameter) whereas, for an old man,  they open up to 5mm only. So, for an old aged, smaller power binocular`s exit pupil might be bigger than their eye pupil.

Magnification (power) vs Field of view

We have seen as the power increases the field of view decreases. So, now the question is to choose a binocular with the higher power or the binoculars with a better field of view?

This is more like a personal choice. Some skywatchers like superpower lenses to be able to zoom into finer details of celestial bodies whereas some like to have broader immersive-spacewalk like experience.

The high powered binoculars are difficult to hold in hands and would need a tripod. The smaller ones can be hand held and are portable, comfortably carried along while traveling. The low power ones can also be used for bird watching and other activities.

So, you need to ask yourself few questions:

  • Are you going to use your binoculars only for stargazing?
  • Are you going to use your binoculars for other activities too?
  • Portability –Where do you use them most? In the backyard or on the travel? how do you carry?

Porro Prism or Roof Prism?

Porro Prism and Roof Prism are the design types. They differ in how they transmit light from objective lens to eyepiece. Porro prism is a classic design. Its been there since world war II. Roof Prism is a new addition. These are compact. Roof prism binoculars are in ‘H’ shape while the Porro prism is in ‘A’ shape. 

 Porro Prism delivers higher quality at lower price. For the same quality, Roof prism binoculars are costlier but are compact. But, Porro Prism is a better choice for Astronomical binoculars.

Tripod adaptability

Any binoculars with magnification greater than 10 will be heavy & hard to hold in hands.  Moreover, as the magnification increases stability decreases. So, you might want to have it fixed on a tripod. This way, when you spot an interesting object in the sky, you could also fix the view and show it to your friends. So, for all that, you would need a tripod adopter.

Other features

Check for the other features like waterproof, fog proof, warranty etc.

With 25x power and 100mm objective lens from Celestron, this is one of the best binoculars in the market for astronomy. Celestron is a popular brand with a wide variety of optical instruments – telescopes, binoculars, & microscopes. Celestron`s Telescopes are very popular.

Its 100mm objective lens works very well in low light conditions. 25x is so powerful that you could spot Jupiter and its moons very easily. The optics used are of good quality and gives a clear and crisp view. It is so big & heavy that you definitely need a tripod. A good tripod is a must. You could choose this if you are going to dedicate it only to stargazing and not worried about portability.

Pros:
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    Very powerful.
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    BaK-4 graded Multi-coated lenses.
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    Clear & crisp view.
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    Carry case included.
Cons:
  • very big & heavy.
  • Only for astronomy.

This pair of binoculars is more of an all-rounder. Its 10x power might not be a great choice if you are looking for Astronomy only binoculars but is decent and can be used for most of the activities – bird watching, safari, sports along with star gazing.

This one is from the stable of Nikon whose cameras are pretty popular. Their optics are of good standards and give pretty clear and crisp view. It has is of Porro prism design. It is lightweight, rubber armored, good ergonomics to be able to hold in hands for a long time.

You could go for it if you are looking for astronomical binoculars with decent power and can be used for other activities.

Pros:
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    Light & good ergonomics.
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    Portable. Can be used for other activities.
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    Multi-coated lenses. Clear view.
Cons:
  • Not very powerful

Another one from Celestron. With 15x power, Bak-4 grade glass, multi-coated lenses it’s a pretty good buy for its price. With 70mm objective lens, it’s very good at low light conditions. It is lightweight. One can comfortably hold in hands for short durations but would need a tripod for a prolonged viewing.

If stargazing is only the purpose you are going to use it for, you can get this one. If you need it for sports, bird watching, hunting, you could go for other smaller ones.

Although some complain about some focusing issues, collimation error, build quality, this seems a good one for its price.

Pros:
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    Good value for money.
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    Multi-coated, Bak-4 prisms
Cons:
  • The outer part of the field is little blurry.
  • complaints on collimation
  • only for astronomy

This one is from Orion whose Telescopes are pretty popular. Orion Gaint 25x100 is the biggest and brightest from Orion. 25x is a very powerful magnification for binoculars that you can notice subtle details of your target object. With fully-multi-coated optics and BaK-4 grade glass, this gives a clear and crisp view. The eye-relief is 18mm which is very good and comfortable even with spectacles.

This is a dedicated astronomy binocular that means you cannot use it for any other activity. This is very heavy that you definitely need a tripod and that too a heavy-duty-tripod.

Pros:
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    Very powerful -25x
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    Fully Multi-coated, Bak-4 prisms
Cons:
  • Very heavy.
  • Need a heavy-duty-tripod
  • Price

Another one from Celestron. With 12x power is decent for star gazing. With 60mm objective lens this one isn’t too big like other Celestron skymasters and a good one for the low light. I would say this one is in between those dedicated-astronomy binoculars and compact binoculars.  It is portable, can be handheld, decent optical quality, waterproof. Along with star gazing, you could carry it on a trip, on a boat ride, on a safari.

Since they are of high power, when held for a long time or with shaky hands, it gets little hard to focus.  Its also tripod adaptable in case prolonged view. An all-rounder from Celestron with little more inclination for Astronomy than other activities.

Pros:
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    Good value for money.
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    Multi-coated, Bak-4 prisms
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    Not too big. Not too small.
Cons:
  • Heavy. Not comfortable for a prolonged handheld view.

Finally, which one? 

Celestron SkyMaster 25X100 ASTRO – for dedicated stargazing.

Nikon 8248 ACULON A211 10x50 – Allrounder

Celestron SkyMaster 12x60  - Versatile. But more inclined towards astronomy.

James
 

Iam an outdoor enthusiast turned blogger. I help people with their outdoor activities & choosing the right gear. Here I help you pick a right binoculars for your needs.

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