Ranking Astronomy Binoculars in the UK

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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 practise 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.

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

Visionary 7x50 High Definition

Best Performance

Rank 1
The Visionary 7x50s are a splendid set of binoculars that punch well above their weight and price category. Their multicoated optics are particularly impressive, as they excel at providing stunning views of a diverse array of celestial objects. The inclusion of high-quality BAK-4 prisms is another noteworthy feature; these prisms are integral in producing sharp and high-contrast images. These binoculars boast a 7-degree field of view, which is remarkably sharp, with only a minor softening towards the outer 5-10% of the field. This is a small compromise, given the outstanding performance and image quality in the central portion. Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or just dipping your toes into the wonders of the night sky, the Visionary 7x50s are a fantastic investment.
Celestron SkyMaster 12x60

Best Value

Rank 2
The Celestron SkyMaster 12x60s are a versatile pair that sit comfortably between the realms of the more portable 50mm binoculars and the larger, more powerful alternatives. They can be wielded by hand, yet offer a viewing experience that’s a cut above smaller 50mm aperture binoculars.With high-quality BAK-4 prisms, these binoculars provide sharp and clear images of celestial objects. This, coupled with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, makes the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60s a very appealing choice for those looking to get a more capable pair of binoculars without straying too far from the realm of portability.
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70

Largest Aperture

Rank 3
The SkyMaster 15x70s stand as a remarkable bargain for those keen on delving deeper into the cosmos without breaking the bank. However, these binoculars are not without their quirks. The internal Porro prisms can sometimes arrive misaligned, and sorting them out can be a bit of a bother. In addition, the included plastic tripod adapter leaves much to be desired, and believe us, you'll want to mount these binoculars on a tripod for a stable viewing experience. That said, with a few adjustments and a replacement tripod adapter, the SkyMaster 15x70s offer a splendid astronomical viewing experience for the price.
SVBONY SV206 10x50

Widest Field

Rank 4
The SV206 10x50s are a delightful pair of binoculars boasting BAK-4 prisms, which are known for their optical brilliance. What’s particularly striking is their expansive 7.5-degree field of view, which sweeps you into a grand tour of the night sky. However, it's worth noting that the edge correction isn’t the best in class. As you move towards the periphery of the view, some distortion can be observed. Nevertheless, for the casual stargazer or someone venturing into the world of astronomy, the SV206 10x50s present a very enticing package, striking a balance between performance and affordability.
Opticron Oregon 10x50 WA
Rank 5
The Opticron Oregon 10x50s are a treasure trove for anyone with a keen eye for celestial observations. These binoculars are endowed with BAK-4 prisms, a feature that is renowned for enhancing the clarity and sharpness of images. With these prisms, the night sky comes alive, displaying an unparalleled level of detail that is sure to leave any observer spellbound. The 6.5-degree true field of these binoculars ensures that you can soak in the splendour of the cosmos without missing out on the finer details. In addition, they provide a generous 16mm of eye relief, which is a boon for those who wear glasses. What’s more, Opticron stands firmly behind their product with an included 5-year warranty, assuring you that this is a purchase you can make with confidence. All in all, the Opticron Oregon 10x50s are a phenomenal choice for those looking for optical brilliance in their stargazing endeavours.
Helios Naturesport-Plus 7x50
Rank 6
Boasting first-rate specifications, these 7x50 binoculars are a stellar choice for any astronomy enthusiast. A 6.5-degree field isn’t the widest possible for a 7x50 binocular, but the Helios Naturesport 7x50s are sharp across the entire field thanks to their internal BAK-4 prisms.
Celestron Cometron 7×50
Rank 7
The Celestron Cometron 7x50s are a steal for those on a budget, combining affordability with a commendable performance. While the BK7 prisms and fittings might not be top of the line, they’re more than capable of providing a delightful glimpse into the night sky. What sets these binoculars apart is their stunning 6.8-degree true field, which allows you to take in celestial wonders in all their glory. Given their attractive price point and admirable capabilities, it’s no surprise that the Celestron Cometron 7x50s are our top pick in their category. A modest investment that promises ample rewards for the budding astronomer.
Rank 8Pentax Jupiter 10x504.2
Rank 9Visionary 7x50 Classic Binoculars4.1
Rank 10Opticron 30189 Oregon WA 10x504
Rank 11Bresser Binoculars 7x50 Porro4
Rank 12Bresser Travel Binoculars 7x504
Rank 13Levenhuk Atom 7x50 Ultra-Compact Binocular4
Rank 14Bresser Binoculars Hunter 7x504
Rank 15DANMO 10x50 Binoculars for Adults4
Rank 16Praktica Falcon 7x50 Binoculars3.9
Rank 17Bushnell PowerView 10x503.9
Rank 18Sotae 10x50s3.9
Rank 19Opticron Oregon WA 8x40 Binocular3.9
Rank 20Pentax Jupiter 8x403.9
Rank 21Tasco 10x503.9
Rank 22Bushnell Falcon 10x503.9
Rank 23Celestron UpClose 10×503.9
Rank 24Celestron Outland X 10x42 Binoculars3.9
Rank 25Pentax Jupiter 12x503.9
Rank 26Bushnell PowerView 12x503.9
Rank 27Celestron Cavalry 10x503.8
Rank 28Celestron UpClose G2 8x403.8
Rank 29Celestron UpClose G2 7x353.8
Rank 30Bushell Falcon 7x353.8
Rank 31BARSKA Crush Series 10x423.7
Rank 32Celestron LandScout 7x35mm Porro3.5
Rank 33Bushnell PowerView 20x503.4
Rank 34Celestron UpClose 20x503.4
Rank 35Pentax Jupiter 16x503.3
Rank 36Visionary Black 7x50 Marine Focus Free Waterproof Binoculars3.3
Rank 37Visionary YELLOW 7x50 Marine Focus Free Waterproof Binoculars3.3
Rank 38Konus Konusvue 7X50 Binocular3.3
Rank 39Konus 7x50 Sporty Fix Focus Binoculars3.3
Rank 40Celestron UpClose G2 10-30x50 Zoom3.3
Rank 41Celestron Outland X 8x253.2
Rank 42Celestron UpClose G2 10x253.1
Rank 43Celestron Up-Close G2 8x21 Roof3.1
Rank 44Celestron LandScout 10x25 Roof3
Rank 45Celestron Kids 4x302.5

£75 -£125 Range

Bushnell Legacy WP 10x50

Best Value

Rank 1
The Bushnell Legacy WP 10x50s are an exemplary piece of optical equipment for those who wish to explore the night sky. These binoculars are waterproof, making them a versatile choice for varying weather conditions. With a wide 6.5-degree true field, they provide an expansive view of the celestial wonders. The BAK-4 prisms within these binoculars ensure that you get sharp and vibrant views, which extend right out to the edges of the field. Furthermore, the comfort is enhanced by the twist-up eyecups which are not only convenient but are also particularly beneficial for eyeglass wearers. The Bushnell Legacy WP 10x50s are a great package of features and performance for amateur astronomers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Nikon Action 10x50 EX Extreme
Rank 2
The Nikon Action Extreme 10x50s are built like a tank, ready to withstand extensive use while delivering top-notch optical performance. The BAK-4 prisms within ensure that images are sharp and vibrant. They boast a 6.5-degree field of view, allowing for a generous swath of the sky to be visible in one glance. However, excellence comes at a cost, and these binoculars do command a premium price. They may not be the most comfortable or affordable compared to other 10x50 options, but if durability and optical performance are your priorities, the Nikon Action Extreme 10x50s stand as a formidable choice.
Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme
Rank 3
The Nikon Action Extreme 7x50s share much of their DNA with their 10x50 siblings, including the same true field and overall build quality. What sets them apart is the 7x magnification, which some users might find more to their liking. The lower magnification can offer a steadier view, which is especially handy in handheld use - though the narrower true field than most other 7x50s can feel a little claustrophobic and is certainly less immersive.
Zhumell 12x70 Astronomy Binoculars
Rank 4
The Zhumell 12x70s are a gem for the enthusiast seeking larger aperture but convenient binoculars on a budget. These binoculars’ whopping 70mm aperture allows for copious amounts of light to enter from faint celestial objects. The binoculars also boast BAK-4 prisms, which contribute to their sharp views. Despite their size, they can still be used handheld if you brace yourself effectively. The 12x magnification is more forgiving of optical issues such as collimation and requires less stability than a pair of 15x70s, though we’d still recommend a tripod or monopod for longer observation sessions.
Nikon Aculon 10x50
Rank 5
The Nikon Aculon 10x50s are a sturdy and highly capable pair of binoculars, though they command a premium price. Built to last, these binoculars achieve a 6.5-degree field of view and are equipped with BAK-4 prisms. The optics are razor-sharp, bringing celestial objects into stunning clarity. However, it is worth noting that they might not be as comfortable or as affordable as some of the other 10x50 options available on the market. For those who are willing to invest in durability and outstanding optical performance, the Nikon Aculon 10x50s are a worthy contender.
Celestron SkyMaster 20x80
Rank 6
Sporting a colossal 80mm aperture capable of gathering far more light than smaller binoculars, the SkyMaster 20x80s inevitably necessitate the utilisation of a tripod for steady views, both on account of their weight and 20x magnification. Furthermore, the minimum focal distance for these binoculars rests at a rather distant 108 feet, which translates into an inability to focus on proximate terrestrial objects.Thus, it becomes apparent that the Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars are singularly tailored for astronomical pursuits. The SkyMaster 20x80s may very well represent the upper limit in size that one may wish to venture, especially when considering cost-effectiveness in juxtaposition with telescopes boasting comparable or superior faculties. We’d recommend checking out our Binoculars vs. Telescopes article before considering these monster binoculars.
Opticron Oregon 15x70
Rank 7
The Opticron Oregon 15x70s are like doppelgangers to the Celestron SkyMaster 15x70s, mirroring their features down to the last detail, including the BAK-4 prisms. Just like the Celestron counterpart, these binoculars deliver a captivating view of the night sky. However, it is important to be cognisant of the same caveats that come with the SkyMaster 15x70s. The Opticron Oregon 15x70s are ideal for those looking for an alternative brand, while maintaining the same set of features and performance as the Celestron SkyMaster 15x70s.
Nikon Aculon 12x50
Rank 8
The Nikon Aculon 12x50s offer a tantalizing 12x magnification, allowing you to get even closer to  celestial objects. Equipped with BAK-4 prisms, the views are of course quite sharp. However, these binoculars have a narrower field of view and their increased magnification makes them somewhat harder to hold steady in your hands. They are best used in a setting where you can stabilize them with a tripod or monopod.
Bushnell H2O 7x50
Rank 9
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 10
A nice pair of BaK4 roof prism 10x42s with a phone adapter thrown in.
Nikon Aculon 7x50
Rank 11
The Nikon Aculon 7x50s take an interesting turn in that they have a narrower field of view than their 10x50 counterparts, despite having lower magnification. This can create a feeling that is almost claustrophobic for some users, as the night sky feels more constrained. They still feature the high-quality BAK-4 prisms, which ensure that the images are sharp. However, if a wide field of view is high on your priority list, it might be worth exploring other options.
Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8x42
Rank 12
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 13
The Aculon 10x42s are essentially identical to the Aculon 8x42s but with 10x magnification and the same bulky Porro prisms.
Rank 1Barska Waterproof Blackhawk 10x423.9
Rank 2Celestron SkyMaster 25x703.9
Rank 3Barska Waterproof Blackhawk 12x423.9
Rank 4Nikon 8244 ACULON A211 7x353.9
Rank 5Celestron Ultima 8x323.9
Rank 1Meade Mirage 10-22x503
Rank 2Celestron SkyMaster 15-35x70 Zoom3
Rank 3Barska AB10172 Gladiator 12-60x70 Zoom3

£150-£250 Range

Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15×70

Best Performance

Rank 1
The Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70s represent a fine upgrade over the regular SkyMaster 15x70s, bringing with them an augmented level of quality. Boasting BAK-4 prisms, which are revered for their optical excellence, these binoculars offer a crisper, more expansive view of the night sky. One of the standout features is that the SkyMaster Pro 15x70s don’t suffer from the quality control issues that plague their cheaper counterparts. The result is a sharper and wider field of view that immerses you into the celestial wonders. For enthusiasts who are looking for a step-up in performance and reliability, the Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70s are a stellar choice.
Celestron SkyMaster DX 8×56

Best Handheld

Rank 2
The Celestron SkyMaster DX 8×56 binoculars are ideal for those who may be uncomfortable with 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.
Celestron SkyMaster DX 9×63
Rank 3
Featuring the same BAK-4 prisms and sharp optics as the SkyMaster DX 8×56, the SkyMaster DX 9x63s are still usable handheld though considerably chunkier than smaller binoculars. These are ideal for observers under dark skies due to their large exit pupil, but are not too unwieldy for daytime terrestrial use too.
Pentax SP 10×50 WP
Rank 4
Another durable, high-quality option for 10×50 binoculars, albeit with a narrower true field of only 5 degrees.
Nikon ProStaff 10×50
Rank 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.
Rank 6Celestron Nature DX ED 10x504.2
Rank 7Celestron Nature DX ED 10x424.2
Rank 8Celestron Nature DX ED 8x424.2
Rank 9Zhumell Signature 10x424.2
Rank 10Celestron Nature DX 10x424.2
Rank 11Celestron Nature DX 8x424.2
Rank 12Celestron Nature DX ED 12x504.2
Rank 13Nikon Action 12x50 EX Extreme4.1
Rank 14Nikon Prostaff 10x424.1
Rank 15Zhumell 20x80 Giant Astronomical Binoculars4.1
Rank 16SVBONY SV407 2.1x42 Binoculars4.1
Rank 17GLLYSION 10x424.1
Rank 18Celestron Oceana 7x504
Rank 19Barska Deep Sea 7x504
Rank 20GLLYSION 12x504
Rank 21Nikon Aculon 16x503.9
Rank 22Nikon 8252 Aculon A211 10-22x50 Zoom3.9
Rank 23Bushnell Legacy WP 10-22x50 Zoom3.9
Rank 24BARSKA X-Trail 30x803.9
Rank 25Celestron Nature DX 8x323.5
Rank 26Celestron SkyMaster 18–40x70 Zoom3.1
Rank 27BARSKA Gladiator 20-140x80 Zoom 3