If there is the one experience that I have loved in my life is the thrill of using my binoculars for stargazing every night when I get home.
If you can remember the movie ‘A walk to remember‘ you would realize how beautiful it is to observe night sky of spring. The experience is just out of this world; and while I may want to urge all of you to try it out sometime, there isn’t a better way of doing that than buying a telescope or a pair of stargazing binoculars.
We usually think of telescopes when think about stargazing. But binoculars could be more useful than telescopes in many cases which I have explained later in this post.
In fact, a good first telescope for an armature astronomer is actually not a telescope at all 😋. For beginers, a pair of good binoculars and a set of star charts and/or planisphere can help you most. Binoculars are the most wise pick for learning night skies and finding out where the star clusters, Milky Way, and other large bodies are.
People often think stargazing or astronomy binoculars need only higher magnification binoculars. That could be partially true but the reality is the magnification power is not all you might want. You may use 7x magnification or 30x magnification depending on what exactly want to do with the binoculars. To guide you how to choose the best binocular for stargazing or astronomy read through the binocular buying guide of astronomy.
In this post, I will give you some affordable binoculars as well as a few handy tips and recommendations. To help you find the best budget binoculars for stargazing I have tested over 40 bestselling models and picked the top five.
Fujinon 7×50 FMT-SX2 binoculars are originally made by a Japanese company Fujinon, a branch of fuji Film.
For starters, FMT, as used in the name stands for the following:
F = Flattener Lens (Eye Piece)
MT = Marine Tested
The “SX” on the other hand stands for a Special Electron Beam coating (EBC) that is applied to the binocular lenses. EBC technology boosts light transmission to a rate of 95% and enables the lens to gather more light.
The impact of EBC technology is a final image that’s bright, crisp, and clear. From my research, many astronomers are using the FMT-SX2 Binoculars model and they have fully recommended it for the stargazers.
The other rated Fujinon 7×50 models that professional astronomers have also recommended include:
- Fujinon Polaris 7×50 FMTR-SX2: Comes with special armored rubber coating.
- Fujinon Polaris 7×50 FMTRC-SX2: Combines the armored rubber coating with a premium inbuilt compass.
My Experience with Fujinon 7×50 FMT-SX2
I tested this model in different aspects and found some amazing things about it. That’s why I can recommend it without any doubt.
- Prism Syestem
Prisms are used to lengthen the light path that exists between the objective and the binocular’s eyepiece. When this path is lengthening using the prism, one can easily increase the binocular’s magnification power without having to increase the length of the optical device.
Fujinon 7×50 FMT-SX2 Binoculars is designed with the Porro Prism I (Bak 4). Porro prism has substantial advantages. They have a very limited loss of light and therefore provide high-quality images and clearer images.
As the model uses Porro prisms, there is no need to use any coating on the prism surface like the Roof prism designs.
- Field flattener Lenses
Special field-flattener lenses are used in these Polaris binoculars to achieve incredibly sharp images throughout the entire view. This technology eliminates many field aberrations that most manufacturers leave uncorrected. The result is much less distortion for a sharper and clearer image from the center to the edges of the view.
With regular lenses, you may notice that the center of your image is clear. However, the outer parts of the image as you move from the center are usually not as sharp. This happens because the image that the binocular produces is slightly curved or saucer-shaped referred to as Petzval Field Curvature.
To correct this effect, you need to flatten the image so that every edge appears in an equally flat platform. This is where the flattener lens is used.
- Fully Multi Coated Lens
As I said before all Fujinon binoculars use a special Electron Beam Coating (EBC) on the lens surfaces that can increase the light transmission rate to 95%! As we know these coatings to be applied need too expensive technology – so these binoculars come with cost.
When coatings are applied in every lens surface, it is referred to as Fully Multi-Coated lenses or FMC. FMC is found on high-end devices and is designed to minimize reflections from the lens and to improve clarity.
- Tripod Adaptable
Because of the full-sized model, they have the feature to be mounted on a tripod with the tripod adaptable screw. So, there is no fear of ever having a shaky image.
- Fully Water-proof
They are fully waterproof which is especially done because of the individual focusing system on each eyepiece. There is really no way that the water could break into these binoculars because each line of prisms is totally separated from the other side. They are filled with dry nitrogen to prevent any thermal fogging.
This model’s chassis frame is made from a durable but lightweight aluminum alloy. The aluminum is encased in a leather textured (black) rubber armor.
- Fixed Focus System
Unlike many other binoculars that use a focus wheel, these are fixed focus binoculars. They can be calibrated to your vision using each of the eye-pieces. So, you only need to set the focus once and then no longer have to alter the focus for any objects from medium range to infinity until other user calibrate it for their uses. This feature is really perfect for the situation when you need to grab your binoculars really quickly to observe a bird in action or at night when the adjusting of the focus is really hard and thus are ideal for stargazing, boating and birding.
Because of its strong Aluminum alloy casing, this Polaris binocular has proven to be one of a kind. The designers state that they have recorded very small return rates in years and I want to believe them. No wonder they got a lifetime year warratenty.
There are some astronomical objects that I feel better with 7×50 binoculars than with 10×50 binoculars [For example, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the NGC 7000 – the North American Nebula].
However, the 7×50 binoculars will give you lower magnifications for most of the sky objects. So, an increased magnification of the 10×50 would allow us to see more detail and generally gives more satisfying views. In that case, I would prefer the 10×50 models such as:
These 10×50 binoculars are more suitable for those whose pupils do not dilate much beyond 6mm (I’m the one).
Over the years I’ve owned many binoculars everything from inexpensive to expensive. As much as I enjoyed the three-dimensional views, or the reality, or the comfort of using two eyes at once they all suffered from the same problem and that is the ‘image shake’. Canon 10×42 L IS anti shake binoculars is one of the finest pair of binoculars with that image stabilized technology.
Binoculars not only magnify an image they also magnify the tiny motions your hands make when your body moves. Mounting the binoculars on a tripod can help but that makes moving to other objects awkward. A better solution is to step up to one of the new image stabilized binoculars such as these Canon 10×42 L IS Binoculars.
Are 10x binoculars good for astronomy?
Most people don’t realize that most nebulae from north America are at least four times bigger than a full moon but not illuminated. You don’t need powerful binoculars or telescope, but all you need is dark and clear skies and a good pair of binoculars with good optics. So if you want to observe night sky Canon 10×42 L IS could be considered one of the best binoculars for astronomy.
Best Image Stabilized Binoculars
I’m trying to think of an analogy to explain you with this pair of binoculars. Think back to the time when we had those little square CRT televisions of lower resolutions. When you went from one of those to one of the large screen high-definition sets. How was the impact? Was not that amazing? And that’s what these things do. It’s just like that! It’s just when you look through these for the first time and you’re not used to image stabilization you just kind of lose yourself in the wonder of just how sharp and how stable the images are!
Compared to regular non stabilized binoculars these things are fantastic. Besides eliminating the jitter, the stable image also allows you to get a really good focus on both eyepieces. So you can see a lot more detail.
The difference with non stabilized binoculars
What’s the difference? Instead of merely spotting or looking at a bird you can now study it with enough detail. You can tell not just what type of bird it is but you can also differentiate one bird of a particular species from another bird of the same species. Isn’t fantastic?
Optically these produce the sharpest, clearest, highest contrast images of any binocular or even any of the telescopes that I’ve owned. Although the objective lenses are too small for serious astronomy the image stabilization, the sharpness and the wide field of view make them fun for casual observing.
When looking at very bright stars like Cirrus what I found is a slight astigmatism when I change the focus in and out. However, this is common with all binoculars I have used. I didn’t notice any color or flaring and the moon looks absolutely unbelievable!
The Common Complaints
The most common complaint with this pair of binoculars is that the lens caps are hard to get on and if you do they pop off [the eyepiece lens caps are fine though]. If you look at them another complaint is that the front element isn’t recessed into the frame very much. So it’s easily touched and fingerprinted.
Another complaint is that they’re not very comfortable to hold. With regular binoculars you can wrap your hand especially your thumb all the way around to get a good firm grip. With these the way they’re designed you can’t close your thumb. So you don’t have as good a grip!
Another complaint is that the focus system is very slow; this can take about 3 to 4 motions. Now that can be a problem if you’re trying to follow something that’s moving around a lot. On the other hand, this allows you a really sharp focus. So for me this isn’t such a bad deal.
- Best handheld binoculars for astronomy
- Best image stabilized binoculars for birding
- Three year limited guarantee
- Produce brighter image
- Suitable for shaky hands, moving vehicles, marine use on boat
- Compact design
- Very premium feel at hand
- Good focus and lot more details and sharp view
- Even if no twist out eye-cups you can fold down them
- lens caps are hard to get on and if you do they pop off
- No central hinge, so not very comfortable to hold
- Little bit expensive (above $1000)
Orion Resolux 15×70 Astronomy Binoculars is a good choice for stargazing. This pair of binoculars are one of my favorite pair as it pull lots of light and produce brighter images. The brighter image it produces is not just for its wider field of view but also for advanced multi-coatings on all optical surfaces.
With this pair you can easily observe Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and even Mars. It is a little on the pricey side, but if you don’t mind throwing in a few extra dollars for military spec super cool stargazing and astronomical experience, you can always choose this set of binoculars above the rest.
This is a 15-power astronomical set of binoculars that comes with a nice 4.4-degree field of view. Coupled with a high-end rugged housing to provide the binoculars with top rated resolution views and a pleasing flat-field, this set of binoculars is usually worth every dollar that you will pay for it.
It also has fully waterproof and nitrogen purged touch with a durable construction to prevent lens fogging on misty weather conditions and also in a foggy environment or a low lit area any time of day.
In fact, it is quite admissible that the binoculars high-quality BAK-4 prisms and its advanced multi-coatings that come on all optical surfaces is what actually provides it with the maximum light that you will require throughout for the perfect and brightest views and rich in contrast.
More importantly, this set of binoculars also comes with the perfect attachment that will work with any tripod so long as you have included the tripod adapter that it comes with any time you want to use the binoculars for the best astronomical experience.
One thing that this set of binoculars has received praise for is its stylish design. You cannot miss it along the shelves as it is extremely cool looking, easy to spot, and has a sleek touch around it’s shell.
For people who want to get a thrill of sleekness, high end build, top style casing, and the perfect gaze under a clear night, the Orion Resolux 15×70 Astronomy Binoculars will be your best buy!
- 15-power astronomical set of binoculars
- 4.4-degree field of view (very wide considering 50x magnification)
- Durable construction to prevent lens fogging
- High-quality bak-4 prisms
- Work with any tripod; comes with tripod adapter
- Top style casing
- Very heavy (5 lbs)
- Slight noticeable curvatures at the viewing edge
And if you don’t intend to spend so much but still want to get the best binoculars for stargazing when night falls and the stars graze the air, going with the Celestron SkyMaster 20×80 Binocular would be a good choice.
With a 20x magnification power, the binoculars will guarantee a 20X view over the normal visual touch with naked eyes. Thanks to its Porro prism binocular that makes the work easy and which prevents you from breaking the bank.
Nonetheless, the Celestron SkyMaster also understands the need for the wider field of view when going for the best astronomical views. That’s why it provides a 80 mm objective lens diameter to work with too.
The 80 mm objective lens diameter will allow in more light thus give you some bright images. It will also provide you with a wider field of view so that you won’t strain when going for your best views.
More importantly, the 80 mm makes this set of binoculars perfect for low lit environments such as the middle of the night when you want to have the best stargazing experience all through the time.
In addition to that are the fully multi-coated (FMC) optics that will provide clear and sharp images to work with too.
However, it is the large center focus knob that you will find really easy to work with. Using it will give you good images as you get a better hold on the binoculars and possibly use it for longer hours.
The firm grip is also doubled with the protective rubber cover around the binoculars that also provides the gadget with a safe landing in case it might slip from your hands – this is still unheard of though.
In case you need a suitable set of binoculars for terrestrial or even astronomical viewing the Celestron SkyMaster Binoculars will not only give you that, it will also leave you with a longer eye relief that’s even super ideal for people who wear glasses.
This top rated binocular is known to perform well under rugged conditions too and there is no need to worry about its reliability.
- Porro prism binocular
- Wider field of view
- Perfect for low lit environments
- Fully multi coated (fmc) optics
- Large center focus knob
- Protective rubber cover around the binoculars
- Requires tripod to use
- Too heavy in weight (2126 g)
The Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×50 Roof Prism Binoculars is an astoundingly reliable, efficient, well-built, and high-performing optical system.
I have used it before and I own one until now. It is greatly enhanced with a set of dielectric fully multi-coated pair of lenses which provides you with some of the most stunning views.
The FMC lens is also great add-on and provides the low-light performance that’s one of the most critical attributes if working with an optics system that you want to use quite often. That’s why I love it.
More importantly, the Diamondback 10×50 Roof Prism Binoculars with its ultra-wide field of view will effortlessly allow you to cover so much ground and also acquire your targeted objects with lots of ease.
When it comes to watching the night sky, powerful magnification is a necessity. This set of binoculars is also a powerful device. Thanks to the 10X magnification power that’s set on a 50mm set of objective lenses.
With such capacity, the Diamondback binoculars will be so much effective. You will be able to see the object under view as if it were 10X closer to you; and that’s just a great bomber for beginners who are looking for an affordable optic device for the night.
Adjustable Eye Cups
With its adjustable eyecups, I must admit that the Diamondback 10×50 Binoculars is known to provide some of the most comfortable viewing for people who are wearing glasses and those who are not wearing glasses.
The eye cups are easy to adjust and you can twist them or extend them in order to have a full clear view/ eye relief. And this is important for anyone who wants to see the sky clearly.
In fact the binoculars right eye diopter also accommodates for all the focal differences your eyes might have and in no time you will have a clear image.
Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
Another great add-on to this optical device is the Fully Multi-Coated Dielectric Lenses. These lenses will transmit more light to the Vortex setup and leave you with very clear and brighter images.
This is made much more efficient with the binoculars large field of view that helps to efficiently capture your surroundings and properly identify your target irrespective of how far it might be from you.
Hinge Design with Rubber Armor
Most users are also swept away with a great hold. This binocular has sleek, short hinge design that comes with rubber armor and additional thumb indents to leave enough room for an easy non-slip grip and also your hands comfort.
Yet sometimes the night skies are often foggy and full of moisture. That shouldn’t be a problem if you have a binocular that’s tailored for exactly that. The Diamondback binoculars comes with an argon purging with additional rubber armor that provides it with an enhanced waterproof and also fogproof touch under the most extreme weather conditions.
I believe that you have found out what a great set of optic device the Diamondback 10×50 is. You can buy it today and have a great piece of device for your star gazing experience.
- Magnification: 10X
- Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
- Eye Relief: 19 mm
- Add-on: Lens Cups
- Exit Pupil: 5 mm
- Interpupillary Distance: 61-74 mm
- Cover: Rubber
- Height: 6.8 inches
- Width: 5.6 inches
- Weight: 31 oz
- Color: Black
- Easy to carry
- Comes with a neck strap
- Has objective lens covers
- Comes with a carry on case
- Has a user manual
- The binocular has limited warranty
- Catches dirt easily
Best Binoculars for Astronomy and Stargazing – The Buying Guide
As I said before people often think higher magnification is better. However, in most cases it’s not the fact. If you want to observe the increased detail of a star you may want high magnification binoculars. However, the high magnification binoculars need very premium optics and collimation to work. Whereas when you want to observe illuminated wide beautiful view of dark night skies, you should choose lower magnification binoculars that have bigger objective lenses.
Personally, I’m low-power fan. I don’t find the visual differences between a 10x power and 20x power pair. But when I choose higher power binoculars I tend to get fatigued due to the lack of usability. You may take the chance, give a try of both and see which you like most.
You have seen the reviews and have probably even made up your mind on which brand to go with. However, you need to have some pointers that can guarantee the best astronomy and stargazing binoculars.
Theoretically higher magnification binoculars should allow you to see more detail of the planets. This is because planets appears very small in night skies. So if you want to see bands of Jupiter go with higher magnification binoculars such as 20x or above. However, in most cases I don’t find any visual differences between the high power and low power binoculars.
On the contrary, if you think that you’re more interested in the wide views of beautiful night skies with all illuminated stars, you should go with lower magnification binocular that have higher objective lens diameter such as a 7×42, 7×50, 8×50 or 10×50 etc. Another reason for choosing lower magnification with higher aperture binoculars is that most sky objects are very large (even larger than moon), but too dim to be seen without the aid of any scopes that can collect good light.
Binoculars that come with larger exit pupil tend to give you bright images of heavenly objects. Binoculars’ exit pupils can be anywhere from 1mm to 7mm – the higher the number, the brighter the image. However there is no use of having larger exit pupil binoculars than your own eye’s exit pupil. This is because most adults’ eye pupils don’t exceed more than 6-7 mm at night in dark.
Young adults’ pupils tend to open at maximum 7 mm in dark. However, as we grow up after 30 years our pupil tend to be narrow in about 1mm in every 10 to 15 years. So adult eyes can’t fully take the advantage of large-exit-pupil-binoculars, and so they may not differentiate between 7×35 and 7×50 pair of binoculars. So for astronomy or stargazing experience always choose a pair of binoculars that have 1±6mm exit pupil (for low magnification binocular) or 1±4mm exit pupil (for high magnification binocular).
To learn more about how a person’s age can change the required exit pupil diameter of binoculars read through the binoculars buying guide.
Astronomy binoculars are usually monster. So, you need binoculars that can can take a shock if dropped. From dusty nights to misty mornings a heavy and rugged touch on a unique binocular for astronomy will be awesome.
Binoculars use either Porro prisms or roof prisms.
Newer, roof prism binoculars would seem superior to Porro prism binoculars because of their compact sizes. Porro prism binoculars, however, offer superior images that are sharper, brighter, and show better contrast.
This is because roof prism systems are not as efficient as Porro prism systems at concentrating incoming light. However, premium models from good manufacturers tend to minimize this loss of light in an attempt to make brighter images.
So if you are on budget I recommend that you go with Porro prisms especially in case of higher magnification (12x<) binoculars. This is important for night time astronomy or stargazing of celestial faint objects such as the faint star clusters.
The more stable the binocular that you have the better the type of experience that you will be expecting; it is therefore considerable that’s you go for binoculars that have incorporated gyroscopes and other liquid filled prisms in their designs.
This will easily stabilize the binoculars and trigger an autocorrect positioning. Remember that unlike roof prisms which are often lighter and smaller, Porros are heavier and will trigger a good stabilization mode.
Tripod adapter will be a good solution if you use larger size binoculars. They will allow you to get a stable fix on a specific area around the sky and in turn to enjoy the uninterrupted watching experience.
Field of View
There are many ideal astronomy binoculars with a field of view that’s quite extensive because of their large objective lens diameter. From as low as 42 mm to 70 mm lens diameters, certain designs have been forged to give you a one of a kind experience.
It’s a rather cool experience that you don’t have to actually spend so much or get a tech training to use your best binoculars for stargazing. Indeed, this is great. However, it is important that you make a very objective choice so that you get a good value binocular for your use. Choose our top rated designs and thank us later.
Binoculars vs Telescope: Which is Better?
Which is better? As I said before binoculars could be more useful than telescopes in many cases.
Note: Keep it mind that binoculars aren’t really substitutes for telescopes at all. They both have specific purpose to serve.
But if you are new in astronomy a pair of good binoculars should be your ‘first telescope’ (even experienced astronomers also keep binoculars with them). Without a good pair of binoculars you can’t learn astronomy.
Let’s go into the detail how binoculars are better than the telescopes.
- Serve Specific Purpose: To study about the astronomy and sky binoculars are second to none. Take the advantage of wider field of view of binoculars to study and scan large open star clusters and big, extended nebulae, that is quite difficult with telescopes.
- Small and Lightweight: An average pair of binocular measures around 6 by 8 inches. This is small enough to fit car’s glove box compartment or the center console. Unlike most telescope, there is no need for me to clear my backseat ahead of time to load it into my car. Lifting a 45 pound Dobsonian telescope becomes such a chore after just few nights of stargazing. A pair of stargazing binocular on the other hand is much lighter which could be around 2 pounds. Also binoculars come with straps that you can sling around your neck to free up both of your hands.
- Easy to transport: My telescope takes me around 15 minutes to tear down load and setup and another 15 minutes in reverse on my way home. All the while I need to be very careful not put a scratch on it. However, the stargazing binoculars don’t need to be setup or torn down and also they are made to be rugged. I only need to adjust its focus and it takes just a few seconds. Stargazing binoculars are also easier to use all year round whereas the telescopes are quite difficult to setup during the winter. Also storing a telescope is much difficult than storing a pair of binocular.
- You don’t have to be an astronomer: You don’t need to be an astronomer to own a pair of binoculars and you probably have one already. In the past you maybe bought a pair just for bird watching or checking what’s happening across the lake. Go ahead and check your closet; maybe you have one kicking around. Or maybe you can borrow from somebody that you know who has one.
- Less Expensive: An average telescope cost around $500 that to a lot of prospective astronomers especially young ones this could be quite a turn off. So they end up buying a $200 cheap telescope and often get discouraged by the results. This is because cheap telescopes usually come with cheap optics and mounts. But for the same price you can get a good pair of binoculars. In my opinion a good pair of binoculars offer better value than a cheap telescope.
- Easier to Find Objects: As binoculars are made of two telescopes mounted side-by-side, a pair of 15×70 binoculars can gather twice the amount of light than that of a 70 mm telescope, because the telescope gathers light through only one objective lens.
Obviously binoculars have their shortcomings and one of them is less magnification. But they do have wider field of view that should help you scan night skies when you are going to study astronomy.
I hope if you’ve read the reviews if you’re thinking about buying one. If you think this is a good purchase, please share my website in your social media channel.