When most people think of stargazing with equipment, the first thing that comes to mind is a telescope. This certainly makes sense, as telescopes have a much greater range of use and can be made to peer much further into deep space.
Binoculars should not be overlooked, especially for beginners who might not want to invest a ton or feel comfortable switching to an entirely new piece of stargazing equipment that’s only useful at night. Binoculars – especially ones that can also be used for stargazing – are a great investment, and come at every price point.
After years of writing multiple lists of the best binoculars for stargazing at different price points, I’ve decided to condense all of that information into just one list. Below you’ll find my recommendations on choosing astronomy binoculars broadly, then specific recommendations ranging from starter/budget-friendly all the way up to a worthy investment.
Ready to find the perfect pair of astronomy binoculars for your next stargazing session? Read on!
This post was originally published in April 2022, and was updated most recently in February 2024.
What to Look for in Astronomy Binoculars
Before jumping into the binoculars I recommend, I thought it would be helpful to list a few of the considerations I have when evaluating the ones I recommend – and what you should look for when deciding whether to choose binoculars or a telescope – and which binoculars to buy.
- Objective size – All binoculars are presented with two numbers (“#×#”). The first number represents the magnification power of the binoculars (more on that in a second) and the second is the objective size (or lens diameter in millimeters). Binoculars with less than 30mm won’t do much when it comes to stargazing, so it’s best to look for at least 35mm (though the best binoculars for stargazing are typically in the 40+ range).
- Power – Similarly, power matters: a lower magnification means the dots of stars, planets, and deep space objects will stay just dots. Higher magnification can be good, but it comes at a cost with stability and image quality.
- Quality/clarity of view – The glass inside the binoculars matters too, as this affects how clear the view will be (independent of the objective size and power). There are a number of ways glass can be treated to improve your view, so do some research as you compare options to find ones you feel confident in.
- Field of view – You also want to pay attention to the field of view (represented in degrees) when comparing binoculars; you don’t need a wide field of view, but you don’t want one that’s so narrow that you can’t see the entire Pleiades or the moon. A moderate (6°-10°) field of view strikes a good balance.
- Weight – Unlike telescopes, most people hold binoculars for stargazing – so weight matters! Keep an eye on the total weight of a pair of binoculars, and consider adding a tripod/mount for anything above a few pounds… otherwise, you’ll just be uncomfortable after a few minutes of stargazing.
- Price – Price is obviously a unique consideration for each person; below I’ve broken down the best stargazing binoculars at different price points (under $50 all the way up to $1000) so you can find the best one based on your own budget.
Are there other variables you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments so I can provide recommendations based on what you’re trying to understand.
The Best Binoculars for Stargazing
Before jumping into each pair of binoculars and what makes them great, I thought it might help to show a table of all six that I recommend. These are binoculars with great specs and power, are good for stargazing, and are highly rated and popular with fellow astronomy fans and amateur astronomers.
|Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars
|SkyGenius 10×50 Powerful Binoculars
|Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 Binoculars
|Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 Binoculars
|Nikon MONARCH 5 10×42 Binocular
|Meopta MeoPro European 10×42 Binoculars
Read on to learn more about each of these fantastic astronomy binoculars at each price point.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $50: Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars
You might recognize these Bushnell binoculars as classics – they are popular and affordable enough that you’ve likely held them if you’ve ever gone birding or out looking for other wildlife. They’ve also been on my list of the best budget binoculars for years – last year in the #3 position but this year jumping up to #1 when I crunched the numbers
That said, the Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars are also good for astronomy if you are looking for a starter set. They come in at well under $50 and have fully coated optics for superior light transmission – even the light of distant stars.
Additionally, they’re nice and lightweight at just 21 ounces; this means they’re good for longer sessions without wearing your arms out.
If you’d like something a bit different than these OG, versatile binoculars, here are three other pairs that ranked highly under the $50 price point:
- Celestron Cometron 7×50 – Ranked #1 on last year’s list, solid 50mm lens diameter for more power, but more weight for craning up to look at the stars. Priced around $45.
- UncleHu 20×50 – Solid high-powered alternative that works pretty well in low-light (aka astronomy) conditions. Priced around $45.
- Celestron UpClose G2 10×50 – Designed for terrestrial distance viewing, these binoculars are a great balance of power, quality, and price for getting started in astronomy equipment too. Priced around $50.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $100: SkyGenius 10×50 Powerful Binoculars
The SkyGenius 10×50 binoculars have danced up and down on my under-$50 and under-$100 list for years; this year they top the more expensive list – but come in low on the price range which makes them a great option!
Their multi-coated 50mm large objective lenses guarantee excellent light transmission; they also improve image brightness well enough for you to see the celestial bodies without distortion.
The SkyGenius 10×50 is easy to focus on thanks to its diopter System that adjusts the imbalanced vision of both eyes. Since they feature a 367ft/1000yds large field of view, these binoculars are ideal for watching wildlife and scenery as well.
If you’re looking for alternatives, here are three other good options within the $50-$100 range:
- Gosky 10×42 Binoculars – Solid 10x magnification and crystal-clear views, plus a smartphone adapter if you’ve got steady hands and want to capture a shot. Priced around $80.
- USCAMEL 10×42 Binoculars – A good entry-level option that’s more compact than others at this price point; occasionally on sale for less than $50! Priced around $60.
- Orion Scenix 7×50 Binoculars – Nice wide angle of view but a little less power; Orion’s always solid for their clarity and quality. Priced around $95.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $200: Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 Binoculars
The Celestron 15×70 SkyMaster binoculars have jumped a little in price, putting them on the low end of the $100-$200 range – but they definitely have earned their spot. With their large aperture 70 mm objective lenses, they ensure maximum image brightness in low light and long-range conditions – like when stargazing!
Thanks to their multi-coated optics and BaK-4 internal prisms, you’ll see spectacular views of the moon and larger deep-sky objects like the Andromeda galaxy and the Orion nebula.
Beware that, given their 3.28-pound weight, these binoculars are comfortable to hold for short periods only, so you might want to research tripods with your remaining budget.
In the under-$200 category, you start to see a wider range of options, so here are a few alternatives you might want to consider too:
- Celestron Outland X 10×42 – Good power and versatility with a low weight, which makes them great for stargazing, especially for the price! Priced around $105.
- Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 – The most affordable of the SkyMaster family (though there are several under $200!), these give you greater power for stargazing without a ton of added weight. Priced around $110.
- Nikon ACULON A211 8×42 – Formerly the top-ranked binocs under $200, these have great power-to-weight balance, but a limited field of view. Priced around $110.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $300: Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 Binoculars
A favorite of keen birders, the Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 Binoculars are the best astronomy binoculars under $300 in part thanks to their great price. The ergonomics of this product are also fantastic. The binoculars feature a lightweight magnesium chassis, preserving the strength of a metal chassis while reducing the weight by as much as 35% – great for birders who want a long look, and those of us who are looking skyward too!
Thanks to the ED Glass and ESP Dielectric Coating, Midas provides unbelievable clarity and brightness of image – the stars pop into view with ease. The ED glass prevents chromatic fringe and minimizes glare and ghost images. The ESP Dielectric Coating reflects over 99% of the light to your eyes, bringing you a bright image that displays accurate color reproduction.
Aside from Athlon, this year’s best alternatives all come from Celestron – it’s obviously a great brand at any price point. Here are those options:
- Celestron Nature DX ED 12×50 – The lowest-price option I’ve found with Extra-low Density (ED) glass, which helps clarity and view quality – plus this pair has good power. Priced around $270.
- Celestron TrailSeeker 8×42 – Designed more for terrestrial outdoor distance viewing, these lower-powered, lower-priced, and lower-weight binoculars have a lot of capabilities for stargazing too. Priced around $300.
- Celestron Nature DX 12×56 – A step up in power from the 12×50s but without the ED glass, these are a nice balance for price. Priced around $270.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $500: Nikon MONARCH 5 10×42 Binocular
With superior quality, these Nikon Monarch 5s are consistently the best binoculars under $500 (two years in a row now!). They feature conventional Schmidt-Pechan prisms with phase coatings for crisp and clear views, especially in low light at dawn or dusk. They also incorporate the ED Glass to correct chromatic aberration.
The construction is sturdy and very durable, with built-in lens covers that stargazers can flip off during use. Designed with the typical Monarch look, the binoculars have rubber armor and a high-quality composite interior. The black armor is grippy and makes them very secure in your hands, whereas the composite body makes them compact and lightweight.
Given the wide range of options within the $300-$500 range, here are some other good alternatives:
- Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster Pro – Perfect if you’re planning to stargaze with a tripod-mounted pair of binoculars, these are the tops in the SkyMaster series and are well worth the investment. Priced around $320.
- Vortex Optics High-Density 10×42 Vipers – A favorite for hunters, these have excellent optics and a decent power-to-weight ratio for stargazing. Priced around $500.
- Carson 3D 10×50 Series – Not as powerful as some others at this price point, these make up for it with ED Glass for excellent view quality and clarity. Priced around $370.
Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $1000: Meopta MeoPro European 10×42 Binoculars
The Meopta MeoPro European 10×42 binoculars might not be as high-powered as other binoculars in the $500-$1000 price range, but their lower price helps make up the difference.
Although the Meopta MEOPRO has a bulky look, nobody will see it in the dark and its ergonomic rubber armor and rugged, lightweight magnesium chassis make it super comfortable to hold.
The lenses are completely multi-coated with Meopta’s lens coatings that deliver an outstanding 99.7% light transmission per lens surface. It also comes with objective lenses that eliminate color aberrations and provide vivid images with exceptional brightness.
If you are willing to spend the full $1,000 and want some options, these are other great binoculars for stargazing at that budget:
- ATN BinoX 4K 4-16x Smart Binocs – High-tech with recording and live-streaming capabilities, these smart binoculars have good power and smooth zoom to help unlock the wonders of the night sky – for you and others who watch with you. Priced around $900.
- Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 – Near the upper end of Nikon’s offerings, these high-powered binoculars also have ED glass for excellent clarity for stargazing. Priced around $1000.
- Celestron Echelon 20×70 – s part of Celestron’s large-aperture Echelon series, this binocular is specially designed to perform well in low light; you might need a tripod if you want to enjoy long sessions. Priced around $1000.
Have any questions about these best binoculars for stargazing at each price point? Let me know in the comments!