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Ranking 97 Astronomy Binoculars in the US

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Astronomy binoculars are a great budget option to learn how to find your way around the sky and view bright deep-sky objects. If you’re purchasing an astronomy gift for someone whose interest may not stick, binoculars are an economical choice with uses beyond astronomy. Even if you already have a telescope, a good pair of binoculars can be a useful addition, and they will cost less than most eyepieces. A pair of 40–60mm binoculars will offer a wide field of view, can be set up quickly, and are capable of showing open star clusters, bright nebulae, and galaxies. Smaller handheld binoculars can be used as a reference or practice when trying to locate new objects in your telescope. Some observers prefer tripod-mounted, larger binoculars over telescopes because they are more comfortable to look through with two eyes and are 75% brighter than an equivalent aperture telescope. This factor is also why a pair of binoculars is superior to a cheap telescope with a small aperture and poor features for beginners, as a pair of bargain 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars will have superior image brightness to a 2-3” telescope. You won’t have to worry about bad optics, a wobbly tripod, or low-quality, uncomfortable eyepieces with even the cheapest acceptable binoculars in our rankings.
Skip to the rank list in the price range of:

<$75

<$120

<$220

Understanding Binocular Specs

In astronomy, it is often desirable to be able to observe faint objects such as distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. These objects can be difficult to see with the naked eye, and require a telescope or binoculars with good light-gathering ability to be visible. Binoculars with a smaller aperture may not be able to collect enough light to make these faint objects visible, making them a less effective tool for astronomy. Aperture is generally referred to in millimeters, and useful astronomy binoculars range from 35mm to as large as 152mm in aperture, though usually, they are between 35mm and 80mm.

Binoculars under 35mm aperture are useless for astronomy as they lack sufficient light-gathering power to reveal much more than your naked eye, and thus present disappointingly dim views.

In general, astronomy binoculars should have a magnification between 7x and 25x in order to provide a good balance between image detail, stability, sharpness, and field of view. At higher magnifications, the view through binoculars will appear larger, but the field of view will be narrower. This can make it more difficult to locate and observe celestial objects, as you will see less of the sky at once. Additionally, higher magnifications are more sensitive to shaking from your hands or an inadequate mounting, bring out flaws in optical quality and collimation with many binoculars, and generally belong to the domain of telescopes.

Above 12x magnification or so is generally when you’ll need a tripod for your binoculars in order to allow for sufficient aiming accuracy and provide a steady platform; some people have trouble holding anything above 8x steady enough, and stronger people may be able to handle 15x binoculars for handheld use, but generally, most users’ limit to comfortably observe with handheld binoculars will be around 10-12x.

Binoculars are generally referred to by their magnification followed by the aperture. A 7x35 binocular has a magnification of 7x and a 35mm aperture, while a 12x70 binocular has a magnification of 12x and 70mm of aperture.

Porro prisms and roof prisms are the two different designs used in binoculars to invert the image so that it is right-side-up and left-to-right correct.

Porro prisms are a traditional design that uses two prisms arranged at a right angle to each other to deflect and invert the image. They are named after the Italian optician Ignazio Porro, who patented the design in the 19th century. Porro prism binoculars are characterized by a distinctive zig-zag shape, with the objective lenses offset from the eyepieces.

Roof prisms, on the other hand, use a single prism with a roof-shaped cross-section to invert the image. They are generally more compact and lightweight than Porro prism binoculars and are often used in compact or travel-sized binoculars.

One advantage of Porro prisms for astronomy binoculars is that they tend to have a wider field of view compared to roof prisms of the same magnification and objective lens size. This can make them more convenient for observing celestial objects, as they allow you to see more of the sky at once. Additionally, Porro prisms may offer better image quality and contrast due to their less complex optical design, especially when comparing two binoculars at the same price point.

However, it is important to note that the choice between Porro and roof prisms in binoculars is not always a simple matter of one being inherently better than the other. Both designs have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the user.

BK-7 and BaK-4 are the two commonly seen types of glass used in the prisms of binoculars. 

BK-7 glass is a type of borosilicate crown glass that is commonly used in the prisms of lower-cost binoculars. It is relatively inexpensive and has good transmission properties, but it is not as dense as some other types of glass and may not offer the same level of performance in terms of image quality and clarity. BaK-4 glass, on the other hand, is a higher quality glass that is denser and more optically pure than BK-7 glass. It is often used in the prisms of higher-end binoculars because it offers better image quality and clarity.

In astronomy binoculars, the quality of the prisms can be an important factor because it affects the overall image quality and clarity of the instrument. BaK-4 prisms are generally considered to be a better choice for astronomy binoculars because they offer better image quality and clarity compared to BK-7 prisms. We usually recommend purchasing binoculars with BaK-4 prisms. Many cheap binoculars use BK-7 prisms which are also undersized and vignette the aperture of the objective lenses, bringing down performance.

ED glass is sometimes used in binoculars to provide additional chromatic aberration control, similar to a high-quality apochromatic refractor telescope. However, at the low and usually fixed magnifications offered by all but the largest astronomy binoculars, you are unlikely to benefit much from spending additional money on ED glass alone; other features are more important.

Binoculars typically have eyepieces with apparent fields of view of 50 degrees (similar to a Plossl or Kellner telescope eyepiece) or greater. Wide-angle eyepieces can be more immersive but are harder to manufacture to a high standard of quality. The apparent field of binoculars combined with their magnification dictates the true field, as with a telescope. A good pair of 7x or 10x binoculars have a true field of view of 6.5 degrees of greater. Binoculars with a true field of under 4 degrees are very hard to aim.

Features to Avoid

Zoom binoculars tend to have lower image quality compared to fixed-magnification binoculars. This is because the additional moving parts and lenses required for the zoom feature can introduce distortions and aberrations into the image. Additionally, zoom binoculars often have a narrower field of view and less light-gathering ability than fixed magnification binoculars, which can make it more difficult to locate and observe objects. The high magnifications offered are rarely of any use, being too shaky to use handheld, and if you’re bothering with a steady mount and tripod, a telescope is a better choice. Another issue with zoom binoculars is that they are generally less durable and more prone to failure than fixed-magnification binoculars. The additional moving parts in zoom binoculars can be prone to wear and tear and may require more frequent repairs or maintenance.

“Ruby-coated lenses” are often used to block out certain wavelengths of light to hide shoddy optical quality in binoculars. This reduces light-gathering ability and is also a general indication of a low-quality unit to begin with. Avoid any binoculars with such claims, even for non-astronomical use.

Binoculars with an aperture smaller than 35mm should be avoided due to both quality concerns in lower-priced units and the lack of capabilities offered by such smaller apertures.

“Perma focus” and other similarly advertised binoculars are an attempt to sell low-quality units that lack a focus mechanism as somehow advantageous. They are essentially a scam; avoid them.

Under $75 Range

Best Value
Celestron SkyMaster 12x60
Rank 1
4.3/5
More capable than 50mm binoculars but still able to be used handheld, the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60s provide excellent value for the money and feature high-quality BaK-4 prisms.
Widest Field
SVBONY SV206 10x50
Rank 2
4.3/5
A nice pair of 10x50s with BaK-4 prisms, the SV206 10x50s offer a huge 7.5-degree field of view, though not the most well-corrected towards the edges, 
Cheapest
Celestron Cometron 7×50
Rank 3
4.2/5
The Celestron Cometron 7x50s are a budget-friendly option with cheap BK7 prisms and fittings but capable of showing you a lot, and our top pick at their price, featuring a 6.8-degree true field.
Meade TravelView 7x50
Rank 4
4.2/5
The Meade TravelView 7x50s are identical to the Celestron Cometron 7x50s in every way apart from featuring a negligibly wider 7-degree field, though you’re unlikely to notice the difference.
Orion 10x50 Binocular Stargazing Kit II
Rank 5
4.1/5
While the bonus kit is nice, the Orion 10x50 kit binoculars use BK7 prisms and are otherwise fairly unremarkable.
  • Rank 6 : Bushnell PowerView 10x50 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 7 : Tasco 10x50 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 8 : Coleman 7x50 Signature - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 9 : Bushnell Falcon 10x50 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 10 : Celestron UpClose 10×50 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 11 : Celestron Outland X 10x42 Binoculars - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 12 : Bushnell PowerView 12x50 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 13 : Celestron UpClose G2 8x40 - 3.8 stars
  • Rank 14 : Celestron UpClose G2 7x35 - 3.8 stars
  • Rank 15 : Bushell Falcon 7x35 - 3.8 stars
  • Rank 16 : Meade Wilderness 8x42 - 3.8 stars
  • Rank 17 : BARSKA Crush Series 10x42 - 3.7 stars
  • Rank 18 : Celestron LandScout 7x35mm Porro - 3.5 stars
  • Rank 19 : Bushnell PowerView 20x50 - 3.4 stars
  • Rank 20 : Celestron UpClose 20x50 - 3.4 stars
  • Rank 22 : BARSKA 10x30 WP Floatmaster - 3.3 stars
  • Rank 22 : Celestron UpClose G2 10-30x50 Zoom - 3.3 stars
  • Rank 23 : Celestron Outland X 8x25 - 3.2 stars
  • Rank 24 : Celestron UpClose G2 10x25 - 3.1 stars
  • Rank 25 : Celestron Up-Close G2 8x21 Roof - 3.1 stars
  • Rank 26 : Celestron LandScout 10x25 Roof- 3 stars
  • Rank 27 : BARSKA 10x25 - 2.9 stars
  • Rank 28 : Meade Instruments 125000 8x25 - 29 stars
  • Rank 29 : BARSKA X-Trail 10x50 - 2.8 stars
  • Rank 30 : BARSKA Gladiator 8-24x50 Zoom - 2.7 stars
  • Rank 31 : BARSKA Gladiator 10-30x60 Zoom - 2.5 stars
  • Rank 32 : BARSKA Gladiator 10-30x50 Zoom - 2.5 stars
  • Rank 33 : BARSKA 12x32 Lucid View - 2.5 stars
  • Rank 34 : BARSKA Lucid 16x32 - 2.5 stars
  • Rank 35 : Celestron Kids 4x30 - 2.5 stars

$75-$120 Range

Best Value
Bushnell Legacy WP 10x50
Rank 1
4.8/5
The waterproof Legacy WP 10x50s feature a wide 6.5-degree true field, BaK-4 prisms, and comfortable twist-up eyecups with sharp views right out to the edges of the field.
Nikon Aculon 10x50
Rank 2
4.7/5
The durable, if expensive Nikon Aculon 10x50s achieve a 6.5-degree field of view with razor-sharp optics, though they’re not as comfortable or affordable as some other 10x50s.
Widest Field
Orion Scenix 7x50
Rank 3
4.7/5
The Orion Scenix 7x50s feature a wide, sharp 7.1-degree true field and sharp optics with BaK-4 prisms, though they aren’t as durable or long in eye relief as some other options.
Best Performance
Zhumell 12x70 Astronomy Binoculars
Rank 4
4.4/5
The Zhumell 12x70s feature a huge 70mm aperture but can still be used handheld if you brace yourself, and have BaK-4 prisms. The 12x magnification is also more forgiving of optical issues such as the collimation of the prisms.
Best for Tripods
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70
Rank 5
4.4/5
The SkyMaster 15x70s are an excellent bargain for the price, though they can occasionally have prisms that often arrive misaligned and adjustment can be annoying to remedy it. The included plastic tripod adapter also needs to be replaced, and trust us when we say that you will want to use these on a tripod.
Orion 15x70 Astronomy Binoculars
Rank 6
4.4/5
The Orion 15x70 Astronomy Binoculars are identical in every way to the Celestron SkyMaster 15x70s with all of the same features and caveats.
Most Compact
Celestron Outland X 8x42
Rank 7
4.3/5
A snice pair of 8x42 roof prism binoculars with BaK-4 prisms.
Zhumell 10x42
Rank 8
4.2/5
A good choice for those who might want a sharp pair of 10x42 roof prism binoculars.
Nikon Aculon 12x50
Rank 9
4.1/5
The Aculon 12x50s have a narrow field and are harder to hold in your hands, though they provide sharp views at 12x.
Bushnell H2O 7x50
Rank 10
4.1/5
Heavy-duty waterproof binoculars, the H20 7x50s provide a crisp view but weigh more and offer a narrower field than most other options.
Gosky 10x42
Rank 11
4.1/5
A nice pair of BaK4 roof prism 10x42s with a phone adapter thrown in.
Nikon Aculon 7x50
Rank 12
4/5
The Aculon 7x50s actually have a narrower field than the 10x50 model, which feels almost claustrophobic.
Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8x42
Rank 13
4/5
Negligibly more compact than the 50mm units, the Aculon 8x42s are decent quality if a bit expensive and bulky for what you get, since they still use Porro prisms unlike most 42mm binoculars which have more compact roof prisms.
Nikon ACULON 10x42
Rank 14
4/5
The Aculon 10x42s are essentially identical to the Aculon 8x42s but with 10x magnification and bulky Porro prisms.
Orion 10x50 E-Series Waterproof Binoculars
Rank 15
4/5
Sharp BaK-4 units with twist-up eyecups, the Orion E-Series 10x50s have a somewhat narrow true field of view, only 5.6 degrees across.
  • Rank 16 : Barska Waterproof Blackhawk 10x42 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 17 : Celestron SkyMaster 25x70 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 18 : Barska Waterproof Blackhawk 12x42 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 19 : Nikon 8244 ACULON A211 7x35 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 20 : Celestron Ultima 8x32 - 3.9 stars
  • Rank 21 : Orion Expanse 4x21 Super Wide Angle Binoculars - 3.5 stars
  • Rank 22 : Meade Mirage 10-22x50 - 3 stars
  • Rank 23 : Celestron SkyMaster 15-35x70 Zoom - 3 stars
  • Rank 24 : Barska AB10172 Gladiator 12-60x70 Zoom - 2.8 stars

$100-$220 Range

Best Performance
Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15×70
Rank 1
4.7/5
A high-quality pair of 15x70s without the quality control woes of the cheaper regular SkyMaster 15x70s, delivering a sharper and wider field of view.
Orion Giant View 15×70
Rank 2
4.7/5
As with the cheaper 15×70 units, the Orion Giant View 15x70s mostly duplicate the Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70s with similar specs and quality.
Best Handheld
Celestron SkyMaster DX 8×56
Rank 3
4.7/5
The Celestron SkyMaster DX 8×56 binoculars are ideal for those who may be uncomfortable using higher-power binoculars without a tripod but still want more than 50mm of aperture. The extra 6mm provides a surprising boost in light gathering ability with sharp views, and comfortable eye relief.
Orion Mini Giant 9×63
Rank 4
4.7/5
The unusually sized Orion Mini Giant 9×63 binoculars are optimal for handheld use thanks to the low 9x magnification coupled to their large 63mm aperture and BaK-4 prisms, though the true field is limited to 5 degrees.
Fujinon Mariner 7×50
Rank 5
4.7/5
Offering a wide and tack sharp 7.5-degree true field, the Fujinon Mariner 7x50s are well worth the price.
Orion UltraView 10×50
Rank 6
4.7/5
The UltraView 10×50 binoculars are essentially a duplicate of the Bushnell Legacy WP 10x50s, though sometimes available at a better price or more widely than the Bushnells.
Celestron Nature DX 10×56
Rank 7
4.5/5
As with the SkyMaster DX 8×56, the Celestron Nature DX 10×56 cram a little more aperture than a 50mm binocular without much more weight and bulk, and also feature a more compact roof prism design.
Nikon Action 10×50 EX Extreme
Rank 8
4.5/5
Offering slightly better optical quality and durability to the Aculon 10x50s but similar in their performance to astronomy, the Nikon 10×50 Action Extreme is a fine choice.
Nikon Action 7×50 EX Extreme
Rank 9
4.5/5
Offering essentially the same true field as the 10×50 Action Extremes, the Nikon Action Extreme 7x50s are an equally excellent choice if you prefer using 7x magnification.
Orion 51464 20×80
Rank 10
4.4/5
A monster pair of 20x80s which require a tripod for use, offering similar views to a small wide-field telescope with the comfort of two eyes.
Celestron SkyMaster 20×80
Rank 11
4.4/5
Essentially an identical copy of the Orion 20x80s.
Orion Shoreview Pro III 10×42 ED
Rank 12
4.4/5
Featuring ED glass and a 6.1 degree true field, along with a compact roof prism design, the Shoreview Pro III 10x42s are excellent astronomical and terrestrial binoculars.
Pentax SP 10×50 WP
Rank 13
4.3/5
Another durable, high-quality option for 10×50 binoculars, albeit with a narrower true field of only 5 degrees.
Nikon ProStaff 10×50
Rank 14
4.3/5
The Nikon ProStaff 10x50s are compact thanks to their roof prism design and have plenty of eye relief, though their true field of view is only 5.6 degrees.
Vixen Ascot 10×50
Rank 15
4.3/5
The Vixen Ascot 10x50s offer a huge and immersive true field of 8.9 degrees, though they do lose sharpness towards the edges of the field of view.
  • Rank 16 : Celestron Nature DX ED 10×50 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 17 : Celestron Nature DX ED 10×42 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 18 : Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 19 : Zhumell Signature 10×42 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 20 : Celestron Nature DX 10×42 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 21 : Celestron Nature DX 8×42 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 22 : Celestron Nature DX ED 12×50 – 4.2 stars
  • Rank 23 : Nikon Action 12×50 EX Extreme – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 24 : Nikon Prostaff 10×42 – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 25 : Zhumell 20×80 Giant Astronomical Binoculars – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 26 : Meade 20×80 Astro Binocular – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 27 : SVBONY SV407 2.1×42 Binoculars – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 28 : GLLYSION 10×42 – 4.1 stars
  • Rank 39 : Celestron Oceana 7×50 – 4 stars
  • Rank 30 : Barska Deep Sea 7×50 – 4 stars
  • Rank 31 : GLLYSION 12×50 – 4 stars
  • Rank 32 : Nikon Aculon 16×50 – 3.9 stars
  • Rank 33 : Nikon 8252 Aculon A211 10-22×50 Zoom – 3.9 stars
  • Rank 34 : Bushnell Legacy WP 10-22×50 Zoom – 3.9 stars
  • Rank 35 : BARSKA X-Trail 30×80 – 3.9 stars
  • Rank 36 : Celestron Nature DX 8×32 – 3.5 stars
  • Rank 37 : Celestron SkyMaster 18–40×70 Zoom – 3.1 stars
  • Rank 38 : BARSKA Gladiator 20-140×80 Zoom – 3 stars