top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Garner

Can Binoculars Be Used for Stargazing?

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Stargazing has been a hobby of many for centuries. Whether it’s to learn about different constellations or for pure relaxation, stargazing can be done in your own backyard. But, can binoculars really be used for this purpose? The answer is yes! Not only are binoculars perfect for stargazing but they are also affordable, easy to use and offer a great opportunity to explore the night sky even further.


What Can You See With Binoculars?

Binoculars provide an up-close view of the night sky that cannot be seen with the naked eye. With them, you can observe faint stars and galaxies as well as planets such as Saturn and Jupiter in more detail than before. Even if you aren’t an experienced stargazer, using binoculars is still an enjoyable way to explore and identify different constellations in the night sky from the comfort of your own home or outside in nature


Can You See the Milky Way With Binoculars?


a man standing on a frost grass with a flashlight and looking at the milky way at night

Fortunately, with effort comes amazing rewards and Earth's Milky Way Galaxy can be revealed in amazing detail with only a pair of binoculars!. Binoculars reveal the vastness of our galaxy, allowing its structures such as star clusters and nebulae to appear in all their glory. When attempting to spot the Milky Way using binoculars, patience is essential as it may take a few moments to make out features in great detail.


How to Pick the Right Pair of Binoculars for Stargazing?

To ensure that you get the most out of your stargazing experience, it's important to choose the right pair of binoculars. Let's take a look at what you need to know when choosing binoculars for stargazing.


Specs:

When choosing binoculars for stargazing, one of the first things to look for is specs. This includes magnification power and aperture size. Magnification power refers to how much bigger an object appears when viewed through the binoculars, while aperture size is how many light rays are allowed into the lenses. Generally speaking, higher magnification power means more detail will be visible in your viewings, but with less light entering the lenses, so try to strike a balance between these two factors for optimal results.


Big Aperture:

One thing that's particularly important when choosing binoculars for stargazing is having a large aperture size. The bigger the aperture size, the more light that enters into your viewings which means brighter stars and fainter details can be seen more clearly. If you want good views of deep space objects like galaxies or nebulae then having a larger aperture size will make all the difference in your experience!


Optics and ISB:

Another factor to consider when picking binoculars for stargazing is optics and image stabilization (ISB). Optics refer to how well a lens refracts light in order to produce clear images; higher quality optics mean clearer images with less distortion or aberration. ISB helps keep images steady even if there's some movement from shaking hands or windy conditions; this feature can be particularly helpful when viewing faint details in deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae as they require extended periods of time without movement to be seen clearly at all times.


Waterproofing:

Waterproofing isn't necessarily required when picking out binoculars for stargazing but it can still be useful as it ensures that your equipment won't suffer any damage should rain or moisture come into contact with them during use - this could potentially ruin an otherwise perfect night! Additionally, some waterproof models are also fog-proof which can help prevent condensation from forming inside of lenses due to sudden temperature changes while outside at night - another potential issue that could ruin an otherwise perfect night!


Lenses:

Depending on what type of star gazing you plan on doing may determine which type of lens material you should go with; whether it be glass or plastic lenses - both have their pros and cons depending on your needs. Glass lenses offer superior durability but tend to weigh more than plastic lenses whereas plastic lenses are lighter weight but may scratch easier over time due to their softer material composition compared to glass lenses so again - depending on your needs one option may work better than another here!


Size:

Another important factor when picking out binoculars for star gazing is size; larger models offer better performance overall due to their bigger objective lens diameter (the front part of the device) which allows more light into viewings compared to smaller models however they often weigh more than smaller models which could cause fatigue faster if used for extended periods of time outdoors at night - something else worth considering before making a purchase!


Light Weight Models:

If weight is a concern there are plenty of lightweight models available too; these usually have smaller objective lens diameters (again, the front part of the device) meaning less light enters into viewings compared larger models however they often come with other features such as image stabilization (ISB) built-in which helps keep images steadier even under windy conditions or shaky hands - something definitely worth considering if portability is key here!

Professional vs Amateur

When choosing binoculars for stargazing, it’s important to consider whether you want professional or amateur models. Professional models are usually heavier and have higher magnifications (up to 100x), which allow you to see distant objects with greater clarity than amateur models (which typically have magnifications up to 10x). However, they are also more expensive than amateur models so it is important to decide what type of model best fits your budget and needs before making a purchase.


What is the Difference Between Binocular and Telescope for Stargazing?

Ever wanted to take a closer look at the stars? Whether you are looking for a hobby or just enjoy the beauty of the night sky, having the right equipment will make your stargazing experience much more enjoyable. The big question is, what do you need? Binoculars or telescopes? Let’s explore the differences between these two pieces of equipment so you can decide which is best for you.


The Main Difference

The main difference between binoculars and telescopes is magnification options. While telescopes have higher magnifications than binoculars, they also require more setup and practice to get the most out of them. This means that if you are a beginner, binoculars may be a better choice as they are much easier to use and generally cheaper than telescopes.


Binoculars are also smaller and lighter than telescopes, making them easier to transport and store when not in use. On the other hand, telescopes can provide better image quality due to their larger lenses and higher magnifications which can give you a much clearer view of distant objects like galaxies or planets. Additionally, if you want to observe from different locations such as your backyard or on vacation, a telescope will be more practical as it is more portable than binoculars.


If You Are Just Starting Out With Stargazing

When it comes down to it, both binoculars and telescopes have their own unique advantages depending on what your needs are. If you are just starting out with stargazing then binoculars are probably a better choice as they are cheaper and easier to use while still providing great views of stars and constellations in the night sky. For those who already have some experience in stargazing or want better image quality at home, then getting a telescope could be worth considering.


Overall

Overall, choosing between binoculars or a telescope for stargazing depends on your individual needs and preferences since both offer unique advantages depending on what type of stargazer you are. For beginners who don’t want to break the bank yet still get an excellent view of stars in the night sky, then binoculars would be ideal as they provide good magnification options without requiring too much practice or setup time. However, if you already have some experience with astronomy or if you want better image quality at home then investing in a telescope might be worth considering since they provide higher magnification capabilities compared to binoculars while still being relatively easy to use once set up properly. Whichever one you choose, happy stargazing!


What You Can See With a Pair of Binoculars?

A pair of binoculars is an incredibly versatile tool for exploring the night sky. Not only can you see a variety of stars, planets and galaxies, but they are also relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Here we will discuss what you can expect to see when using a pair of binoculars to explore the night sky.


The Moon


an image of the moon

The first thing you will likely notice when looking through your binoculars is the moon. Although it might not seem like much at first glance, the moon is actually quite an interesting object in terms of astronomy. With binoculars, you should be able to see several craters on its surface that were created by meteorites from millions of years ago. You may even be able to spot some mountains and valleys as well!


The Planets


an image of Saturn in dark space

You can also use your binoculars to observe other planets in our solar system. The two brightest planets in our night sky, Jupiter and Saturn, are especially visible through a pair of binoculars. This is because they are both larger than Earth and they reflect more light than other planets do. With careful observation, you should be able to make out their rings and moons as well!




an image of Nebula in outer space


Finally, if you really want to take your stargazing session up a notch, then you should consider looking for deep-sky objects such as star clusters or nebula with your binoculars. These objects are incredibly faint and can’t be seen with the naked eye, but with a good pair of binoculars you should be able to make out their shapes or colors. This will give you an entirely new perspective on our night sky!


Recommended Binoculars for Stargazing


FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars


If you're looking for a pair of binoculars that will allow you to see the stars in all their glory, then the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars are a great option. These binoculars have a large aperture of 70mm, which allows them to gather a lot of light. This makes them ideal for stargazing, as you'll be able to see more stars and planets than you would with a smaller pair of binoculars. Additionally, the 15x magnification will allow you to see objects in great detail.

Helpful review: "I've been an amateur astronomer for about 23 years. I have a broad amount of experience with the kind of optics that are used for astronomy. I have used most every type of instrument and have visited some of the great professional telescopes. I have hand built my own newtonian telescope including machining the german equatorial mount. Soon after completing this instrument I took it to a star party and ended up on my back with a pair of Fujinon SX binoculars. To make a long story short, I preferred the binos to the view in my telescope. Telescopes are expensive, they are big, heavy, hard to move, hard to store, complicated to set up correctly, and the view through the eyepiece can be crowded and dissapointing. For the casual observer binoculars are the superior choice. They are everything that a telescope is not...relatively cheap, light, easy use. And because they are so easy to use, you will end up using them much more often than you would a cumbersome telescope. That aspect of binoculars alone will make them show you much more than a telescope ever would. The Celestron 15X70 Skymasters are by far and away the best amateur astronomy instrument for the money on the market right now. They are truly and incredible value. You could spend $600+ on Fujinon SX binoculars and have a very fine instrument, but after using these, that would be a hard argument to make. Most everyone's eyes are not able to discern the fine differences between the two instuments. Mind you, I am not telling you that these are as good as the Fujinons, but at about a 10th of the price...well you get the idea. My experience with Celestron is that they are a first class operation. And now with their lifetime no-fault warranty, the best in the industry, you can purchase products from them knowing that if anything ever goes wrong for whatever reason, they will always stand behind their product. If you are looking to get started in astronomy or looking for an excuse to leave your telescope in the closet, these binoculars are a great value and with proper care will last a lifetime and show you more wonders than you will ever see frustrating yourself with a high magnification-small field telescope. Get them, take them outside at night with your kids and wonder why..." - D. J. deJong

Get it from Amazon now: $85.99-$119 & FREE Returns


Trending review: "Love these binoculars. They are longer than a standard 10x50 (ofcourse), but I don't find them heavy. The "strap" it comes with is not as pictured, and very thin. I would not use it. I used a neoprene camera strap instead. These were easy to focus and find my IDP. No glasses needed for presbyopia, but the eyecups do accommodate them. I would recommend the Celestron brand and purchase again. No eye fatigue, just a clear picture!." - TF

Get it from Amazon now: $85.99-$119 & FREE Returns


Reassuring review: "We love these Binoculars. WE took a cross country trip with them and it was perfect. So much easier than lugging around a telescope. Only downside is you really need a good tripod to keep them steady for distant objects like Saturn and Jupiter. But for moon gazing and checking out Andromeda and other sky gazing, it's perfect. Great quality too.." - Tig Carson

Get it from Amazon now: $85.99-$119 & FREE Returns







Highlight: 10x magnification & 50mm objective lenses. Fully multi-coated lenses increase light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. Adjustable eyecups twist up and down for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses. Rubber armor provides a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection.

Helpful review: "I just purchased the Vortex Crossfire HD 12x50 binoculars and have been putting them through their paces for a week, and had a few important thoughts to share. Firstly, I was looking for a true all-purpose binocular which was small/light enough to do birding in the day/dusk hours, plus do better than average duty as an astronomy binocular which could be either hand held or tripod mounted. I have many binoculars which excel at either of these tasks, but none really do both exceptionally well - until now. The price/performance on these Crossfires is simply amazing - I have spent MUCH more on binoculars and not seen the combination of sharp center of focus, awesome light collection in a light, and manageable form factor. The center field sharpness of the Crossfires is the best I've seen under $200 - and the 12x magnification takes advantage of this for easy marking identification on birds and wildlife. And the 50mm objectives keeps this identification available far later into twilight than any other handheld binocular I own. These are remarkably light and hand-holdable for 50mm bins - they weigh in at only 29.5 oz, and are extremely well balanced, with a firm, yet tacky rubberized body - with proper technique, these are easily as hand-holdable as my 10x42's. *** ALSO *** these close focus down to 6 feet! Yes, I said SIX feet. 12x combined with 6 ft close focus makes these perhaps the most powerful butterfly/insect binoculars ever made! Another plus - these are simply the best looking binoculars I've ever seen - something about the smooth curves and materials transitions from front to back make people ask about them all the time. All materials and mechanicals (focuser, diopter, body) are very high quality with near-perfect resistance to the touch. They are fully multi coated optics, including phase correction coatings, and waterproof/fogproof and O-ring sealed. For Astronomy, these shine even more, and simply outclass any 7x50 or 10x50 I've ever used. The standard tripod mount works perfectly, and on the stand, the Crossfires can star split better than any binocular I own. They are even better with easy reach star clusters, like M7 and M44, which sparkle with life here and demonstrate the joy of binocular astronomy. And to think these are roof prisms (not normally associated with astronomy capability) is even more astonishing - the optics and build quality are to be commended. They even throw in a full-blown binocular harness AND a neck strap - incredible value included at no extra cost. Summary: Low cost, very high quality, good looking, wide array of functionality, terrific, usable optics, best value in binoculars available today. And I haven't even mentioned the Vortex VIP unlimited warranty - how these guys pack so much quality and value into such a low price is kind of crazy - but you'd be crazy NOT to check these out! Highest recommendation." - DozerCSX

Get it from Amazon now: $155.48 - $169 & FREE Returns


Trending review: "Vortex is known for its lifetime warranty and great quality. These binos are perfect! Great quality, the 10x50 magnification gives me a great view up close. I love it that I can wear it with or without my glasses. The harness was a nice surprise, didn't know it came with that. It it also has a comfy neck strap which I will also be using, depending on the situation. And all this for $167!!!!!." - Marianna

Get it from Amazon now: $155.48 - $169 & FREE Returns


Reassuring review: "I rate these binoculars highly for several reasons. First, and no doubt most important to many, is the quality of the optics. Although I do not own a multi-thousand pair of binocs to compare these with I do own an assortment of binoculars, monoculars, and small scopes. Also have some older/vintage items that are high quality. These Crossfire binoculars impressed me with their clarity and overall performance in terms of quick focus and good field of view. I believe they are 8x and for me that is a good power to maintain a steady view of the subject at all ranges. A bonus is the Glasspak case/harness that was included with the purchase. I can see it being a very useful item if used for hunting or watching/spying from a fixed position over any lengthy period of time. All in all, am very pleased with this purchase and suspect that Vortex's higher end products are equally good quality and well worth their price." - R. L. Dean

Get it from Amazon now: $155.48 - $169 & FREE Returns




Highlight: These ultra-high definition binoculars have exceptional edge-to-edge clarity, Athlon Optics Midas provides ED glass for a sharper image. Magnesium chassis is as tough as a metal chassis but more lightweight.

Helpful review: "I am not an optics expert, however here is my experience. When I was teenager in the 80s and interested in birding my father inexplicably bought me a pair of Leica binoculars. One of the greatest gifts I ever recieved. They were and still are pretty great. However, after using some other people's modern cheaper binoculars I did some research and decided to give these a try. They are astonishing. Bright and sharp images. Noticeably better than my Leicas, which now serve as backups only. However, after several years of use one of the plastic eye piece cups fell off and got lost. Such a simple little piece pretty much made the binoculars useless. I was about to look into 3D printing a replacement when I decided it was worth it to try to contact the company. I found an email address and explained what happened. After sending a picture to clarify the missing piece Athlon sent me a new plastic eye piece cup promptly and at no charge! After a few dabs of super glue I am back in business. That is my story and I am sticking with it!." - S. Kennedy

Get it from Amazon now: $239.99 & FREE Returns


Trending review: "Simply put...what I am able to see with these binoculars is stunning. I'm lucky enough to live right next to a large greenspace and a lake. So there are lots of opportunities to see birds and lots of wildlife. I've been using a very nice pair of Olympus binoculars up to now and the difference between the new pair and the old are night and day. Everything in brilliant color and detail. Quick focus made it easy to track moving birds. Excellent light gathering allowed me to see clearly in low light conditions. I do not have a pair of Leica or Swarovski to compare against, but if they are visually better than these it can only be by an infinitesimal amount. If you're looking for really good birding binoculars at a reasonable price, buy yourself a pair." - Marc Wexler

Get it from Amazon now: $239.99 & FREE Returns


Reassuring review: "Four weeks of birdwatching in and I find these binoculars to be terrific thus far. Very sharp optics, low internal reflections, great color rendering, good low light performance, very little 'fringing', reasonable 'flat field', handle well, are pretty light in weight, focusing is no problem (no stiffness after initial use), good lens covers. Of course a "top flight" binocular, Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica is going to be better, especially in terms of that 'flat field' effect, and probably in long-term reliability. Just maybe these top brands are 5% better in real field use conditions. But not four or five times better, and if you want that 5% better you are going to have to pay four to five times as much. My wife has a pair of Swarovski 8x32s. I've used the Swarovskis a fair bit. I prefer these Athlons. The Athlons are brighter and seem sharper and wider field, and handle better for me -- they are just a little bit less 'flat field' in terms of edge to edge sharpness. And Zeiss glass does have that extraordinary brilliance, so I get that each brand has its strengths. So, whatever floats your boat -- just saying that these binoculars float mine.." - Alp Walker

Get it from Amazon now: $239.99 & FREE Returns




Highlight: Fully multi-coated lenses boost contrast and resolution while phase-coated BaK-4 glass prisms maximize light transmission. A rubber-armored, polycarbonate housing protects your binoculars from damage and stands up to the toughest weather conditions.

Helpful review: "I have zero complaints about these. If you're deciding between various magnifications, I would say just go with the 8x to start. I have these, and also a Vortex Diamondback 12x50, and I wouldn't say the Vortex's clarity isn't any visibly better. These Celestrons are what I was using when I found my first owl roost, resulting in photos like the one shown! Paid for themselves right there. :)8x is also the best focal length to start with, because there's no distracting shake or depth of field issues like you get with longer focal lengths. With 8x, you feel like you're seeing with your normal eyes, just farther away. 10 and 12x, you start to get compression and shallow depth of field blur in front of and behind your focal point. So you are manipulating the knob a lot more. This 42 is a good diameter as well, I've found with 50 I can get more haze as more light gets in from different angles. I got mine from Amazon Warehouse, and there's nothing wrong with them. I imagine people return these because they don't know how to use it, and think the black "blobs" they see mean something is wrong. That just means you've shoved the eye pieces too far into your eye socket with no eye relief. The "eye relief" cups should be extended, you only leave them retracted if you wear glasses. I use them with the top of the eye cups just lightly touching my face, just below the eyebrows. It even works well if it doesn't touch your face. And adjust the sides of the binocular as close together as you need for the two circles to become mostly aligned. Update 12/9: Not trying to write War and Peace sequel, but I returned the Vortexes and kept these. Just couldn't like Vortex but I tried both Crossfires and Diamondbacks. They seemed washed out and difficult to get the diopter adjusted well. Now, Leupold BX-4 Pro Guides.. wow. That's clear glass. They edge out the Celestrons but I wouldn't say the difference is a $400 difference. My daily carry is the Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide 10x42 now. Still use the Celestrons when I need to scan lots of area, because the 8x depth of field gives the biggest area coverage. They're really all you need, I'm just a binocular fanatic." - B.E. Lewis

Get it from Amazon now: $116-$169 & FREE Returns


Trending review: "Arrived on time. Package well. Reasonable price. Not too heavy. I did change the strap, but original was okay. Easy to focus. Vision is clear. Binoculars appear and feel well constructed. Primarily using for bird watching in backyard and on hikes — just what I needed. BTW, eyecup work very well with eyeglasses (progressives), which is why I upgraded to these. Bottom line: great value." - Jog10k

Get it from Amazon now: $116-$169 & FREE Returns


Reassuring review: "Good quality, light weight, vision is excellent, nice case, I'm happy with this pair.I was considering whether to buy the X10 over the X8 and finally bought the X8 because the many advantages they have over the X10 and relatively small advantage of magnification (for my use)." - Niv

Get it from Amazon now: $116-$169 & FREE Returns


Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binoculars

Top-rated: 3,598 ratings | 102 answered questions



Highlight: Large center focus knob for easy adjustments; Limited lifetime warranty. 10x magnification and 42 millimeter objective diameter; Non slip rubber armor and soft texture grip absorbs shock and provides a firm grip. Quality optics with stunning HD clarity.

Helpful review: "With free shipping and free returns I was able to compare several different binoculars. I bought 4 pair of binoculars, all 10x42 and all priced close to $100. Two pair were pollo prism and 2 pair were roof prism. 3 different brands. Of the 4 pair these were the best and I returned the others. I expected the pollo prism type to have a better viewing picture but they were not any better than the more compact roof prism. These Bushmell H2O were best in ease of focus, hand and eye fit, and attached lens covers. The clarity of the view was best in these over the others. They were at least equal to the others in quality of case and strap. The focusing was especially nice because it was not so sensitive that a tiny movement of the wheel would cause it to blur. I can focus clearly at 10ft or slightly less (although all the ones I tested were about the same in this regard). Also, they each claim to have multi-coated lenses. But for a manufacturer to make that claim only one surface of one lens has to be multicoated. Now probably the other lens surfaces were also multicoated but the Bushnell H2O was the only one that stated that all surfaces of all lenses were multicoated (stated on their website). These also were the only ones to claim to be waterproof." - Kindle Customer

Get it from Amazon now: $89-165 & FREE Returns


Trending review: "I had this binoculars for 4 years, working daily under the extreme weather conditions of the Congo Basin, and Colombian rainforests. They survived the forests as they are compact, the rubber covering is amazing for keeping dirt away from the lenses and inner parts of the binoculars. I have to say however, that the mechanism to adjust them to your eyes got rusty because of all the water, but some oil help to solve this problem. I really did not take care of this since I had to run a lot after my animals of study, but despite this, the binoculars never broke. Lenses got a little bit scratched due to this, but I believe that if you are careful, place them safely into their covering, and protect the lenses with the aids that come with the binoculars, you can keep them for many many years.Perfect for primatology studies (worked with bonobos, howlers, and woolly monkeys), and very good for birding!!" - Nicolás Corredor

Get it from Amazon now: $89-165 & FREE Returns


Reassuring review: "Really great binoculars for travel. Pretty light but still feel sturdy-Optics are good and give great close up looks. Easy to use and nice to have lens protectors attached to the binocs-" - LDT shopz

Get it from Amazon now: $89-165 & FREE Returns

Conclusion

You can observe anything in the night sky with a pair of beginner's binoculars and there is no limit to what you can see. Whether it's the moon or distant galaxies far away, there’s something new around every corner waiting to be discovered! If you’re an expert stargazer who wants to get more out of their viewing experience or just getting started as an amateur astronomer, then a pair of binoculars could help open up a whole new world for exploration!

My best wishes are with you as you embark on your stargazing adventures. I hope that you will also be amazed just like I was!








58 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page