Astronomical binoculars - weighty glass

People normally associate astronomy with telescopes. But a bright pair of binoculars is probably just as good a way of exploring the sky. I’ve spent ages just staring through mine.

For beginners in particular, the freedom that a pair of binoculars gives you is way more than what you’d get with a scope. For a start, it’s a whole lot easier just to wander about the sky, looking at whatever catches your eye, than it is to move a telescope around. As well, the magnification is much lower, which gives you a more intuitive feel for what you’re looking at.

The other thing that people like about binoculars for astronomy is that you don’t have to close one eye while peering through a telescope. Having both eyes open is more comfortable, particularly if you’re going to be out all night. It also gives a nice illusion of three-dimensionality.

A good pair of binoculars for astronomy needs a big wide lens for sucking in as much light as possible. This photo shows the Celestron Skymaster 25x100 next to a Celestron Nature DX 10x32 birdwatching binocular. The difference is, shall we say, obvious.

But large binoculars with lots of magnification can get very heavy, and you’ll need a tripod to keep them steady.

You don’t have to have huge magnification though. It’s light gathering that’s more important. My own pair is an 8.5x56, and the small pair in the second photo is an 8x56, which is very similar. These will give really bright views of a wide field. They’re also small enough and low-power enough to hold in your hand.


The binoculars in the second photo are (in order of objective size) are:

Oh, and pay no attention to the goose behind the binoculars!