Almost every astronomy enthusiast has experienced the pleasure of using binoculars to scan the Milky Way, locate a comet, or just to familiarize themselves with the night sky before getting a telescope. While binoculars are enjoyable and easy to use, their simplicity comes with a downside. After holding up a pair of 7x50s for even a few tens of minutes—or even less time with bigger and higher-power binoculars—they can feel so heavy that steadying them becomes challenging or outright impossible. Moreover, observing with your binoculars aimed high overhead from a standing position will inevitably result in neck strain.
With larger binoculars, usually those either above 12x magnification or over 60mm in aperture, a tripod, monopod, or mount of some sort is outright required to quell vibrations and provide a sharp and pleasing view of celestial objects at all. Even if you are not using heavy or high-powered binoculars, a mount for them will greatly improve the viewing experience by providing a stable platform. Hand-holding even small binoculars for short periods can cause minimal shake on large celestial objects, but it becomes especially frustrating when observing fine details, splitting double stars, or during extended sessions as we’ve mentioned.
Types of Binocular Mounts
There are essentially three types of mounting options available for astronomy binoculars: pan-tilt photo tripods, monopods, and parallelogram mounts.
A photo tripod with heavy-duty metal legs, a smooth fluid pan head, and an easily adjusted center column for moving the eyepieces to a comfortable height is good for supporting big astronomy binoculars but may not give you the kind of freedom of movement desired and is inevitably annoying to aim high in the sky. A good tripod for binoculars needs to be sturdy enough to minimize vibration and tall enough for observing high-altitude objects from a standing position. Using photo tripods and heads from a seated position for high-altitude targets can range from frustrating to impossible, and standing use can be quite awkward as both your legs and the tripod’s tend to occupy the same space. However, you can still have a good time with a good tripod and binoculars if you buy a good one and can get used to operating the system as a whole.
A monopod provides plenty of portability and freedom of movement, and is cheap, but without an additional trigger grip head, it is often not steady or precise enough for binoculars with over 15x magnification or apertures above 70mm in most cases. Without a movable head, a monopod will also require significant adjustment when switching between objects. While expensive, a trigger-grip ball head simplifies this process, allowing for easy tension adjustments even with cold or gloved fingers. The other hand can then control the monopod’s length, making the process intuitive, and allowing you to use larger and higher magnification binoculars atop a monopod more easily.
When using large, heavy binoculars on a tripod or monopod, it’s crucial to consider that the binoculars’ center of mass is often some distance from the center of rotation of the tripod head itself, resulting in a significant turning moment at higher altitudes in the sky. This is the same problem that plagues many cheap tripod-mounted telescopes, which is why we recommend avoiding those products. In this situation, any altitude tension control will need to be set near maximum to keep the binoculars on target, which, combined with the cantilevered weight of the binoculars, can make the setup challenging to use. This is why many users opt for a parallelogram mount instead, despite the expense.
A parallelogram mount is a specialized mount designed explicitly for astronomical binoculars. This mount allows users to adjust the binoculars’ height using a parallelogram-shaped linkage system, maintaining a constant distance between the eyepieces and the observer’s eyes, while also entirely maintaining the binoculars’ position in the sky to a high degree of accuracy. This feature enables more comfortable and immersive observing sessions, reducing neck and shoulder strain compared to bending over to look through binoculars on a too-short tripod aimed near the zenith or straight up in the sky. It also saves time compared to adjusting a regular tripod or monopod’s center column to change height, which also typically requires re-aiming the binoculars back on target afterward.
If one wasn’t included with your binoculars or built in, a metal tripod adapter for your binoculars is a must to attach them to any tripod or mount.
Our Best Binocular Tripod or Mount Picks
- Best Parallellogram – Orion Paragon Plus Parallelogram-Style Binocular Mount and Tripod
The Orion Paragon-Plus Binocular Mount is a top-tier option for those seeking a robust, versatile mount for their binoculars, albeit one that is potentially more expensive than many pairs of astronomy binoculars themselves. This parallelogram binocular mount facilitates easy adjustment of your binoculars’ height, allowing them to be raised to a height of 7 feet 7 inches or lowered to 2 feet 7 inches in seconds without adjusting your aim or loosening any locks. The included L-adapter can accommodate binoculars up to 80mm and some 100mm models. Orion also offers a larger model for users with 100mm and larger specialty astronomical binoculars.
- Best Monopod – Manfrotto 290 Carbon Fiber 4-Section Monopod
The Manfrotto 290 Carbon Fiber 4-Section Monopod and head boast exceptional stability and lightweight construction, making it a pleasure to carry around and use for astronomical observing. Adjustments to this monopod’s length/height are made using clamps rather than a knob/screw system, providing increased durability and ease of use. With smooth leg action, secure leg clamps, and a beefy head to attach either your binoculars directly or an additional trigger-grip head, this unit exemplifies the high quality expected from Manfrotto products.
- Cheapest Monopod – Amazon Basics 67-Inch Monopod
Amazon Basics’ monopod, as with many other cheap monopods, is a fairly basic item, but one that does the job with most small to medium aperture binoculars up to about 70mm in aperture. The Amazon Basics monopod does not have a quick-release system for attaching your binoculars, and the entire unit must be rotated to mount it onto a camera. However, given this monopod’s low price, these shortcomings are expected and acceptable, and it certainly does the job of providing a convenient and fairly sturdy mounting.
- Best Tripod – Celestron Ultima Pan Tilt Head Tripod
The Celestron Ultima Pan Tilt Head Tripod’s pan and tilt head enables easy and smooth movement of the binoculars, simplifying the tracking of objects in the sky. Additionally, the Ultima Pan Tilt Head Tripod features legs with spiked feet for enhanced stability on uneven terrain by digging into the ground.
- Cheapest Tripod – Amazon Basics 50-inch Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod Stand
For those who have purchased an inexpensive pair of 50-70mm binoculars and need a support system superior to unsteady hands without the hassle of constantly holding a monopod or finding a resting place for one, Amazon Basics offers a cost-effective binocular tripod. Although it’s made from cheaper materials, lacks precise adjustments, and isn’t the sturdiest or most durable option, it’s affordable enough that upgrading to a more robust tripod or specialized parallelogram mount later won’t be a significant financial burden if you don’t like it.