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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Garner

What Equipment Do You Need to Stargaze?

Stargazing is the simple, tranquil pleasure of looking up at the celestial bodies surrounding our tiny planet. It's a hobby, a science, and an age-old human tradition all rolled into one. To help you dip your toes in this vast universe of fascination, let's kick things off by discussing the beginner essentials from my point of view and humble experience.

Essential Stargazing Equipment for Beginners

Stargazing as a hobby requires minimal gear to get started. Here's a short list to get you looking up at the heavens as soon as possible:

  • Star Chart or App: This handy guide will become your best friend as you navigate the celestial map. Many smartphone apps can guide you in real time.

  • Red LED Flashlight preserves your night vision while allowing you to read your star charts or set up equipment.

  • Binoculars: A humble pair can provide an impressive view of the moon, stars, and larger planets.

  • Comfortable Chair: A reclining model works best as you'll gaze upward for extended periods.

Binoculars for Stargazing

When it comes to starting your stargazing journey, the Celestron – SkyMaster 25x70 Binoculars are your ideal partner:

  • High Magnification: With a 15x zoom, these binoculars provide a detailed view of the stars.

  • Large Objective Lens: The 70mm objective lens guarantees a wider field of view and brighter images.

  • User-Friendly: They're lightweight, easy to handle, and perfect for beginner stargazers who need more time to get ready for a telescope.

FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.

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 25x70 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 25x magnification will allow you to see objects in great detail.

Helpful review: "I own both the Celestron 15x70 and 25x70 binoculars. After comparing both here is WHAT I'VE COME UP WITH: Both binoculars excel and have a clear crisp view. The optics are truly amazing at this price point! I did have to send back a set of the 25x70's due to interior dust being seen as I looked through them, but Amazon sent me a new pair no problem. Both binoculars use the same body. The 25x70's are a touch shorter (1/4 inch) in length due to shortening of the Ocular (eye) to the Objective lens distance. The 25x70's also have a larger Ocular lens due to the increased magnification. Both binoculars need a tripod (especially the 25x70's which are more effected by shaking). GET A 70" or greater TRIPOD! I have a 60" tripod and I'm a short5'5" but when something is near 90 degrees over your head the "60 height of the tripod won't cut it. I posted an example of the magnification and the Field of View difference between the 15x70 (1st Pic) and the 25x70 (2nd Pic). As you can see the 25x70 gives you a greater MAGNIFICATION but the trade off is the FIELD OF VIEW which is greater with the 15x70's. The actual views through the bino's are sharper as the cellphone doesn't do it justice. LOOKING AT OBJECTS: In looking a celestial objects the MOON totally fills the frame with the 25x70's. The 4 Galilean moons of JUPITER (yes you can seem) look great in both set of binos. Another thing I love to look at are AIRPLANES. With the use of a tripod I was able to see and follow JETS at 35,000 ft. IT IS A MARVEL! The 25x70's work well here as I can read the writing on the planes. MY RECOMMENDATION: I would choose the 25x70's. The 25x70's are $3 more so why not go for more magnification. The wider field of view on the 15x70's does allow a better "hand-held" experience but you are still going to need a tripod for celestial viewing no matter which bino's you buy. ALSO: Both the 25x70 and the 15x70 come with a tripod adapter but I'd upgrade to a METAL one as these binos are heavy. The Barska adapter is metal with a larger rubber tightening screw and is only $8 (see photo). I'd also get some Field Optics Research Binocular EyeShields ($14) to help keep out peripheral light in daytime viewing (see photo)" - Paul M. Ondra

Get it from Amazon now: $72.00 & FREE Returns

Celstron 25 x 70

Credit: Amazon

Trending review: "By far the best binoculars I have ever had. I have uploaded a video to show you the surface of the moon. I use a tripod to stabilize the picture a bit. I also take these binoculars to the lake to watch the nature and animals from such a distance that they don't hide or fly away because I'm so far away" - M. Marin

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Reassuring review: "These 25x70 Skymaster Celestron binocs were discounted because of minor cosmetic damage to the outer black plastic— I didn’t see any cosmetic damage at all, but they were broken binocs, completely unusable, having terrible double vision, with the left lens also constantly blurry. No Houston camera / lens store would fix it for me. So I asked my brilliant mechanical engineer hubby to fix it for me. He had to watch a YouTube video first, but then it only took him 10 minutes to take apart the binocs and adjust correctly the lenses with a screwdriver to fix the double vision and blurry problems. So anyway, now that it’s fixed: These binocs are amazing!!! They are over twice as big / heavy as my Adorrgon 12x42 bird watching binocs (which, by the way, I also highly recommend for bird watching). This Skymaster Celestron can help me see hawks a hundred yards away during the day and can even see moons on other planets at night. They are heavy for me (I’m a petite woman of 105 pounds), but I don’t need a tripod if I use both arms and lean on a table to steady myself. These are too large and too heavy to carry in a purse for everyday bird watching on the go, so I keep these at home. But amazing quality! My neighbor saw them and commented, “Holy cannoli— those are some serious binoculars you’ve got there!” And yes they are. My favorites. Note: in my photo, they are the huge binocs on the right" - Techaholic

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25x70 Skymaster Celestron binocs

Credit: Amazon

Stargazing at Home – Your Backyard is a Gateway to the Universe

Your journey into the cosmos doesn't require a trip to the ends of the Earth. Here's how to get the best stargazing experience right at home:

  • Find the Perfect Spot: Look for a place with low light pollution and an unobstructed sky view.

  • Let Your Eyes Adjust: Our eyes take about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the dark. So sit back, relax, and let your eyes do their thing.

  • Use Your Gear: Your binoculars or telescope will give you an intimate look at the moon, stars, and planets.

Star-hopping with a Telescope – Your First Look at the Cosmos

Ready to take the next leap? Here's how to get started with a telescope:

  • Choosing Your First Telescope: A refractor or Dobsonian telescope is excellent for beginners due to its simplicity and ease of use.

  • Getting Acquainted: Learn the ins and outs of your telescope before your first stargazing session.

  • Your First Target: Start with something easy to locate and observe, like the moon or planets.

Your Astronomy Equipment List

Embarking on your stargazing journey? Here are the essential items that you should consider to ensure a stellar astronomy experience:

  • Telescope: While binoculars are great for starters, nothing beats the magnification and detail provided by a telescope. Choose one that suits your level of expertise, interest, and budget.

  • Mount and Tripod: These offer stability to your telescope and help you smoothly track celestial objects as they move across the sky.

  • Star Charts and Apps: Navigating the night sky can be challenging. Star charts and apps guide you to celestial objects and constellations.

  • Red LED Flashlight will help you read your star chart or adjust your equipment without disturbing your night vision.

  • Extra Eyepieces: Different eyepieces can offer varied magnification levels, enhancing your view of specific celestial objects.

  • Moon Filter: The moon is incredibly bright through a telescope. A moon filter reduces glare and brings out more surface detail.

  • Comfortable Chair and Warm Clothes: Never underestimate the importance of comfort while stargazing. A good chair and warm clothes can make the experience significantly more enjoyable.

Remember, the best equipment is what works best for you. So, take your time, research, and build a kit that will make your nights under the stars unforgettable.

Pro Stargazing Tips – From One Enthusiast to Another

Over the years, I've picked up a few tips that can help make your stargazing experience more enjoyable:

  • Embrace Patience: Astronomy is not a fast-paced hobby. It's about relaxation, discovery, and taking your time to enjoy the beauty of the universe. Let patience be your guiding star.

  • Dress Warmly: Even in summer, nights can get cold. Dress in layers, and consider bringing a hot drink to keep you warm as you stargaze.

  • Make it Social: Share the stargazing experience with friends and family. Not only does this make it more enjoyable, but it also gives you more eyes to spot celestial wonders.

  • Join a Club: Local astronomy clubs can provide valuable insights, companionship, and even access to better equipment and observation locations.

  • Document Your Observations: Keep a stargazing journal. Note down what you see, when you see it, and any other observations. It'll be a valuable resource as you learn more.

  • Learn, Learn, Learn: There's always something new to discover in astronomy. Read books, attend seminars, watch documentaries – always keep learning!

So, there you have it – your complete guide to starting your stargazing journey. With these tools, tips, and a bit of curiosity, you're well on your way to exploring the cosmos. Clear skies!

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