Nearly everyone who starts out in skywatching believes that they must have a telescope. However, humble binoculars are incredibly useful for observing and can often prove more effective for viewing some targets such as star clusters, sweeping the surface of the moon and catching a pass of the International Space Station. Easy to use and require very little maintenance, binoculars are ideal for beginners and young astronomers looking for a simple way to skywatch without making a large investment.
Here at Space.com, we’ve tried and tested a wide selection of binoculars and rounded up the very best for terrestrial and astronomical views. Whether you’ve got a low, medium or high budget, our top pick will guarantee great observations and the very best deals on high-quality optics.
Ask any seasoned astronomer which is the best binocular magnification for getting started in skywatching and the answer will be 10×50. However, the TrailSeeker 8×42 from Celestron offers a slightly different view to the norm — and it’s all down to the amount of light the 42 mm apertures collect during observations. What’s more, the lower magnification offers a wider field of view over 10x50s.
While the moon, for example, appears a touch smaller through this binocular than through the barrels of 10x50s, the optical system combined with multi-coated optics offers a much crisper and brighter image. Compared to other binoculars we’ve tested and thanks to nitrogen purging and a waterproof design, the optics didn’t fog up either, especially when used in a variety of ambient temperatures and when moving between the warmer indoors and frostier outdoors.
Another advantage of the Celestron TrailSeeker 8×42 is the lack of false color — also known as chromatic aberration — which often takes the form of a purple or blue hue around brighter targets. Very little is detected in the field of view, particularly along the limb of the moon, as we studied a plethora of craters, rilles and lunar mare on its rugged terrain.
Star clusters such as the Beehive Cluster (Messier 44) in Cancer (the Crab), look stunning through the TrailSeeker 8×42 — like jewels studded in a velvet-black background. Meanwhile, Venus appeared as a bright disk with no false color.
The TrailSeeker 8×42 binocular is also quite light at 2 lbs. (1.0 kilograms). But over long periods of observing time, we discovered that our arms began to shake making it difficult to get a steady hand-held view: if you’re prone to trembling arms, a tripod is definitely a recommended accessory.
CYBER MONDAY DEAL: Space.com also recommends the Celestron Cometron 7×50 Binocular, especially if you’re looking for an easy — and low-budget way — to get into skywatching. This binocular provides a wide field of view, while coated optics improve light transmission allowing for bright sights of a selection of targets.
Celestron Cometron 7×50 Binocular: $34.95 $32.79 at Amazon
Lightweight, yet extremely durable, the Celestron Cometron 7×50 Binocular is now 6% off at Amazon. Ideal for