Many of us are seekers in our daytime walks — spotting deer, hawks, and other animals — and the right pair of binoculars are a key element to that experience. Likewise, the right pair of stargazing binoculars are a valuable asset to explore the night sky, the stars, and all the wonders of astronomy.
Whether it's looking up at the moon or finding the position of Venus in the night sky, all of us want those best binoculars for stargazing. We have an awe of the stars that dot the night sky.
Finding the best binoculars for astronomy need not be a complicated task. There are some common aspects to learn — including comparing magnification amounts, objective lens diameter, weight, eye relief, and waterproof/fogproof capabilities.
Some companies ring true consistently for seeking the best binoculars for stargazing. This includes industry leader, Celestron, which has been offering fogproof, waterproof, tripod-supporting, astronomy products since 1964. As such, Celestron dominates the field of our top picks. Other contenders include Canon, Nikon, Vortex, and more.
The below guide is organized by price — whether it be on a budget of $50, $100, or $200 plus. This buyer’s guide aims to simplify the selection process for you by giving you all the specs you need, user feedback in short form, and accompanying pros and cons to consider for each.
If you want to snap some photos of the night sky too, then check out our guide to the best astrophotography cameras. We've also got a round-up of the best binoculars for kids, so you can find the perfect set to help get your children into stargazing, bird watching, or a host of other hobbies. Otherwise, read on to see what models we suggest.
Premium models ($200+)
Featuring environmentally-friendly materials such as lead-free glass, the Canon 12x36 Image Stabilization III Binoculars (Canon 12x36 IS III) are high in price but also notably high in quality. They will offer the stars crystal clear in viewing at 12x magnification and an image stabilization feature that can help prevent shaky images.
You can skip bringing your tripod on your favorite mountain hike with this one. In addition, with a battery usage of up to 12 hours, they can last the length of your hike and back (power source is 2 x AA batteries). Due to their bulk and high price point, these binoculars may not be best suited for suitcase travel. They also require a continuous pressing of the anti-shake button which may be of note for those with arthritis or finger joint pain.
If you are looking for made-for-astronomy gazing binoculars, then the Celestron 20x 80 Pro High Powered Binoculars (Celestron SkyMaster Pro 20x80) have you covered. Featuring fully waterproof housing, interchangeable eyecups, superior wide angle viewing, and fogproof features they come in at the top of the stargazing bucket list.
They have a built in standard tripod mount which may be of use for long term stargazing to accommodate for their heavier weight and size. With 20x magnification and a housing filled with dry nitrogen gas, they do not fog up in even the chilliest of foggy nights, damp conditions, or moving between different temperature conditions — even if that is just your backpack to your favorite hilltop stargazing spot! They also have the ability to attach a red dot finder to bring objects into view more quickly.
Featuring a narrower objective lens diameter than their high powered astronomy cousin (Celestron 20x80 Pro High Power Astronomy Binoculars), the Celestron TrailSeeker model includes a wider eye relief, higher angle of view, and lower price point. They feature fully broadband multi-coated lenses, a twist up eyecup, and the same exceptional waterproof and fogproof housing unit found in many Celestron models.
Affordable and lightweight, these binoculars could accompany you on any hike, whether you want to spend a day birdwatching or an evening of night-time star viewing. They are also adaptable to accommodate a tripod and come with multiple accessories including a carrying case, lens cloth, lens cap, neck strap, harness strap, instruction manual, and eyepiece rainguard.
Mid-range models ($75 - $200)
Offering a generous magnification and objective lens size for a reasonable price, the Vortex 10x50 Crossfire HD Binoculars are a great option. It has a non-slip grip with rubber casing and O-ring seals to prevent water and fog in the optics. The twist up eyecups give it a more compact look and they are noticeably lightweight at just under 2 pounds.
Users indicate that they perform well in low light conditions and are a great performance product for the price. Coming with a chest harness that can be strapped to them, they also can double as great birding binoculars on daytime hikes or be packed for impromptu night-time stargazing.
Even though this model was first released way back in 2005, it still contends nicely with its modern Celestron cousins. Coming in at a price point lower than both the Pro version of this same model and the Celestron TrailSeeker version, it offers a happy medium for affordability and astronomy focused quality.
Key features include the BAK-4 prisms which allow for bright and crisp image quality even in poor, low light conditions. They come with an integrated tripod attachment for ease of use on long nights of stargazing, a case, lens caps, cleaning cloth, and protective lens covering. Celestron designed this one with more structural reinforcement to the body of the binoculars and the exterior casing is water resistant. Note that some of the fogproof precision found in other higher priced models may be lost here.
Released somewhat recently in 2018, these mid-range Nikon binoculars feature lower magnification capabilities but have a generous objective lens diameter and roomier eye relief than other models. It's also noticeably more lightweight and compact than other models which makes it perfect for squeezing into one’s hiking pack or including as part of your camping essentials.
Nikon touts that lead- and arsenic-free glass is used in all the lenses/prisms in the making of the unit, and the body is made from fiberglass and polycarbonate resin. It comes as part of a bundle with a carrying case, lens cap set, carrying strap, lens pen, and keychain light. Other noticeable features include its rubber eyecups which have multi-click adjustments and a turn and slide feature.
Featuring waterproof rubber casing and the nitrogen gas filled defogging technique that Celestron does so well, the Celestron Outland 8x42 is one of their less shiny offerings compared to their SkyMaster. However, it still boasts reliability and comes in as a more affordable option. It has twist up eyecups for fast adjustment, ample eye relief room, and objective lens diameter and a more moderate magnification of 8x.
It also includes a tripod adapter for long term viewing sessions. Perks of this model include its affordability and ease of use; it may be a great starter binocular that still boasts some of the better quality features.
Coming in as one of the oldest released models (2005), this version offers affordability and a rugged look. It does have a very generous magnification and objective lens diameter for the price (+10 - 20mm in objective lens diameter, more than others in this list). Angular field of view is lessened and some compromises are made with look, styling, and waterproof/fogproof capabilities.
Users share it can still serve as a great pair of binoculars despite its age, but the lack of some of the updated extras and newer fogproof capabilities may prove frustrating. Consider buying this one or its counterpart, the Celestron Outland, if you are seeking an affordable yet early features model to use as a starter pair or a first pair for a young adult.
Budget models (Below $50)
Featuring a rubber casing that helps with wear and tear, these binoculars come in at the lower end of the pricing model scale. Because of this, they are not waterproof and sacrifice a lot of the dim light conditions features you will find in pricier, astronomy focused models.
Despite that, these binoculars could serve as a great starter pair for a kid or young adult as they come with a padded carrying case and offer ample magnification at 10x and objective lens diameter at 50 mm. Eyecups are adjustable and twist up or down. Users report some eye relief adjustments weren’t as easy and some quality control issues may not be noticed due to the lower price point.
Coming in on the lowest end of the scale, the Occer 12x25 model offers rubber casing for durable and partial waterproofing, an ample magnification of 12x, and an eye relief of 20 mm. Quality is sacrificed with smaller objective lens diameter — coming in at 25 mm (half that of many previous models listed here).
Weight is light and the binoculars can double for birding, hiking, and other viewing hobbies. While quality and low light conditions become compromised, users report that these compact binoculars are durable and offers clarity with the potential it can provide. This model would be best suited for a small child or young adult just starting out, as it is easily replaceable if broken or damaged.