Live Science Verdict
These binoculars do exactly what they set out to do: Allow observers to view the sun safely or protect the eyes during solar eclipse or partial eclipse events and they’re better quality than some regular binoculars we’ve tested.
Great build quality for the price
Affordable option for solar viewing
ISO-certified solar-safe filter tech
Some chromatic aberration
Cannot be used as general binoculars
Would benefit from use with a tripod
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Viewing far off stars is all well and good, but what about when you need to get a good look at our own star? Step right up, the Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 porro solar binoculars.
The Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 porro solar binoculars are designed to be a safe and easy way to view the sun whilst remaining protected. Never use regular binoculars to view the sun as you can cause permanent damage to your eyesight.
The reason these binoculars are safe to use is that they have Celestron’s proprietary (and trademarked) solar safe filter technology built-in. The filters work by darkening the entire frame within the binoculars, so much that you won’t be able to see anything else through them. View anything other than a bright light source like the sun and you’ll see it produces a black view.
Design: Porro prism
Objective lens aperture: 42mm
Angular field of view: 6 degrees
Eye relief: 12.7mm (0.5")
Weight: 680 g (24 oz)
Dimensions: 173mm x 74mm x 137mm (6.8" x 2.9" x 5.4")
For the price, we’re surprised to see such good build quality. Certainly, they’re better put together than many other generalist binoculars we’ve reviewed and we are particularly impressed with how smooth and accurate the focusing wheel is. We think they are a great and safe way to view the sun during cloudless days or during solar eclipses or partial solar eclipses.
For regular astronomy, check out our best binoculars for stargazing guide. If generalist observing is more your bag, we’d recommend taking a look at our guide to the best binoculars we’ve tested and reviewed for things such as bird-watching, astronomy, wildlife and sports observing.
Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 solar binocular: Design
- External rubber provides a good grip
- All adjustments are smooth to operate
- Textured thumb grips are a nice touch to an otherwise smooth body
As far as binoculars go, there isn’t anything design-wise that makes the EclipSmart 10x42 binoculars stand out from the crowd. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t well constructed. Their porro prism design lends itself to inherently improved optical quality compared to a roof prism design of the same spec and price and while they are much wider and chunkier by comparison, this porro binocular is lightweight. At just 680g they’re easy to hold for long periods and we think younger and older observers, or even those with grip strength issues will find them manageable.
The external casing is made from a rubber that provides good grip all around, even though most of the binoculars are smooth and have no texture. The texture is there where it counts: Two notches sit at the top of the binoculars and the focusing wheel is studded with two rows of similarly-shaped texture lines. Flipping the binoculars upside down, we were also happy to see two thumb grips which are perfectly situated where the hands naturally fall on these binoculars.
Grip isn't super vital observing the sun because it requires cloudless skies so rain isn’t going to be a factor. Still, while many countries around the world will benefit from warmer climes when the sun is out, there are many locations where a bright, bare sun is also accompanied by polar vortices in the atmosphere and as such will need to wrap up warm with thick gloves. Thanks to the additional texture we found they are easy enough to operate even wearing our thickest gloves.
Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 solar binocular: Performance
- Very sharp, clear views once adjusted to eyes
- Filtration intensity is absolutely spot-on and makes solar observations safe
- There is a little chromatic aberration
The whole purpose behind the EclipSmart 10x42 porro solar binoculars is to allow safe observation of the sun. Not only that, but the binoculars aim to deliver sharp and clear views of the sun so that observers can see not just a bright disk but detail on its surface. Celestron has ticked every box in this regard and we were impressed with just how simple it was to observe the sun safely.
After taking them out of the box and carry pouch, we literally lifted them up to the sun, adjusted the focus and the diopter ring and the view was instantly there. For the first time without the use of a complicated telescope or camera and lens technology, we were able to view the sun and its surface safely. They are comfortable to use because the filtration cuts out just enough light to keep things safe while keeping the details. We found ourselves spying on the sunspots as they came and went over several days and could even track their movements when there are consecutive days without cloud.
Performance-wise there really isn’t anything bad to say about these binoculars. There are little improvements that could be made to perfect things further but they are by no means within scope for a binocular of this price and we’d expect them to cost much more if they were implemented. However, the room for improvement is still there. We noticed that during solar observations there is chromatic aberration above and below the sun that included blue and red fringes. This did not bleed into the sun though so details like sunspots remained clear.
Another issue we found is that, because we were observing the sun during the summer, sweat on our brows and around our eyes kept misting up the eyepiece lenses. This did not occur inside the binoculars though, so we were able to wipe them clean with a cloth. But due to the heat, this happened more than once in a single observation. We don’t think this is something Celestron could do anything about but it’s worth noting for those in hotter climates or who sweat easily.
Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 solar binocular: Functionality
- Flexible interpupillary distance is ideal for kids and adults
- Improved or interchangeable eyepieces could reduce flare
- A binocular tripod mount shipping with these would make observations easier
Setting up and using these solar binoculars is simple. Adjust the interpupillary distance using the hinge to account for your eye set width, adjust the focusing wheel, then customize the diopter ring and voila: You’re ready to go.
Everything is smooth, solid and feels secure in the hand. The ISO-certified solar safe filter technology Celestron has put in these binoculars also means you can trust them for solar observations. However, in real-world use, we noticed there are a few other things that users may benefit from.
To start, because we were observing straight at the sun, the sunlight was bouncing off the skin surrounding our eyes and causing flare onto the eyepiece lenses. We’d like to see an addition to use wrap-around eyecups that could be interchangeable on the binoculars to counteract this. For now, but it can be done by positioning your hands on the binoculars so that part of them sit over your eyes. It isn’t that practical, but it is possible.
We think that these binoculars should probably ship with a tripod adapter straight out of the box. Trying to keep the 10x magnification steady when observing the sunspots is really tricky handheld. However, this would incur additional costs, both for the adapter itself and in shipping and handling. Plus, not everyone will have a tripod to mount them on, so we can see why Celestron has decided not to do this as standard. But we would recommend a tripod and a tripod adapter for clearer viewing.
Should I buy the Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 porro solar binoculars?
Overall, the Celestron EclipSmart 10x42 porro solar binoculars are fantastic at their job. Relatively inexpensive, but built to a good standard. They're easily one of our new favorite ways to observe the sun. They are quick to set up and portable enough to take anywhere. Light and small enough to be used by all the family, but also perform well optically - what more could you want?
They aren’t much good for anything other than solar observations (or staring at other bright light sources) though, so this is something to bear in mind when purchasing as the filtration cannot be taken out. If you want to observe more than just the sun and don’t have the budget to buy two pairs of binoculars, we’d advise you to look on our best binoculars buying guide.
If this product isn't for you
If you want to save some money then Celestron also makes a roof prism variation of the solar safe binoculars and are around half the cost. But roof prism binoculars are known for inferior optical prowess, though we can’t attest to this as we haven’t tested them at time of writing.
The EclipSmart porro solar binoculars also come in 12x50 and 20x50 versions providing larger objective lenses and greater magnification. So if you want even better optics and a closer look at the sun we’d recommend buying those instead, though they are more expensive.
For the really dedicated astronomers out there, Celestron also sells the EclipSmart travel solar scope 50 refractor telescope which is also ISO-certified and comes with fully coated glass optics.
Jase Parnell-Brookes is an award-winning photographer, educator and writer based in the UK. They won the Gold Prize award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. After completing their Masters Jase has spent a good chunk of two decades studying and working in photography and optics shooting and writing all over the world for big-name brands and media outlets. Now the Channel Editor for Cameras and Skywatching at Space.com their speciality is in low light optics and camera systems.