Best binoculars 2024: Top picks for stargazing, wildlife, birding and more

With a pair of the best binoculars with you, you'll be ready to view distant wildlife and sporting events in bright clarity. A good pair can even be taken stargazing, although those looking to use them for this purpose will want to look for large front lenses (known as the objective lens diameter) to soak in as much light from distant stars as possible, along with high magnification to bring celestial objects into focus. 

At Space.com our experts know what they like in a pair of binoculars, and have tested them out in the field to bring you all the best options for all different purposes and budgets. A quality pair of binoculars will be comfortable to hold, easy to transport (even more so with the best compact binoculars) and safe to use in all weather conditions. You'll find nothing less in this guide.

Binoculars tend to be more portable and affordable than telescopes, making them a good choice for casual stargazing. Those who plan to get more serious about their stargazing will benefit from investing in one of the best telescopes, and for those who want to image the night sky we also have guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.  

If you're looking to get your kids involved, we also have a guide to the best binoculars for kids that are suited to smaller hands. 

Gemma Lavender Headshot
Dr Gemma Lavender

A contributing expert to Space.com, Live Science, All About Space and more, Gemma is the author of several books including 'Quantum Physics in Minutes'. She holds a degree in physical sciences, a Master's in astrophysics and a PhD in computational astrophysics and became fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2011. Gemma is also the Communications and Outreach Office at the European Space Agency.

The quick list


Best binoculars we recommend in 2024

Why you can trust Space.com Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test and review products.

Best overall

Best binoculars overall: The finest stargazing binoculars money can buy with in-built stabilization

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.5-degrees
Eye relief: 14.5mm (0.57-inch)
Weight: 39.2 oz / 1.1kg

Reasons to buy

+
Optical Image Stabilizer 
+
Rugged build quality 
+
Lots of eye relief 

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky size 
-
Lens caps are loose 
-
AAA batteries required 
Buy it if

✅ You want the best of the best: Other than price and size, we really couldn't find major fault with these binoculars — we gave them 5 stars in our review.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're a casual user: These are an expensive pair of powerful binos, so if you only ever do casual stargazing or wildlife spotting, they'll be overkill.

❌ You want a lightweight binocular: These are undeniably heavy and bulky, so if weight is important to you, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.

The bottom line

🔎 Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars: They're not perfect, but they’re as close as you’ll get for hand-held astronomy. They're an outstanding choice for super-steady stargazing thanks to their image stabilization, waterproof design and large objective lenses. ★★★★★

When it comes to hand-held astronomy, binoculars don't come better than the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars. The main defining feature of the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars is that they include Canon's Optical Image Stabilization (IS). This nifty technology uses gyroscope motion sensors to detect how much your arms are moving and a vari-angle prism to compensate for that movement up to 0.8 degrees. This means that at the push of a button you can eliminate the slight shakes created by your hands and ensure a consistently steady image — ideal for longer viewing sessions when your muscles might be prone to getting tired.

These binoculars use premium L-series glass with Canon's multi-layered anti-reflective lens coating (known as 'Super Spectra') to increase light transmission and reduce lens flare for a bright and clear view that offers accurate color reproduction. The view through these binoculars is incredibly sharp with no chromatic aberration, which is just what you need for observing pin-point stars.

The downside of these high-tech binoculars is that the IS system is quite power-hungry, so it's worth making sure you take plenty of spare AAA batteries along on your trip. We also weren't wholly satisfied with the accessories provided with these binoculars, especially considering the price point. We found that the one-piece lens caps struggled to stay in place, and we thought the carry case was a bit basic and flimsy, so you might want to upgrade it. But overall, these are still the best stargazing binoculars on our list thanks to the astronomy-centric glass and clever image stabilization feature.

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Canon 10x42L IS WP
AttributesNotes
DesignRugged build quality, but bulky.
PerformanceProduce bright and colorful images.
FunctionalityOptical image stabilization.

Best optical performance

Best optical performance: Some of the best optics on the market in an easily transportable roof prism design

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.9-degrees
Eye relief: 17mm (0.67-inch)
Weight: 1.5 oz / 680g

Reasons to buy

+
Highly portable
+
Sharp views across the whole field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilization
-
Negligible color fringing
Buy it if

✅ You want some of the best on the market: If you're prepared to pay for them, these binoculars will last you for years to come and provide stunning optical performance and a premium finish.

Don't buy it if:

You specifically want image stabilization: This may be the only thing missing from this pair of binos, so if that's important to you, there are other options out there that do have it.

The bottom line

🔎 Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 A premium package that comes at a premium price — though not ideal for beginner binocular users unless you have deep pockets or a real passion for wildlife or a similar interest that you plan on pursuing for years to come. ★★★★½

In our Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 review, we loved these so much that we found them hard to fault. These binoculars have high-quality optics, and we noticed almost no color distortion (chromatic aberration). This is because Nikon uses multilayer coatings on all glass elements and includes Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements. With a wide field of view and great built-in field-flattened technology, these binoculars ensure sharp images from edge to edge, particularly beneficial for keen wildlife observers.

Because of their slim design with a roof prism, these binoculars are sleek and easy to carry in a coat pocket or around your neck. Even though they weigh 680g, they remain comfortable for long periods of use, thanks to the soft and comfortable neck strap.

While they do come with a higher price tag because of their exceptional optics and quality finish, we believe they provide excellent value for those who can afford them. These binoculars are completely waterproof and fog-resistant because they're sealed and filled with nitrogen. You can feel confident using them in any weather, indoors or outdoors, making them especially useful for your stargazing sessions.

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Nikon Monarch HG 10x42
AttributesNotes
DesignPremium finish all over.
PerformanceRazor sharp views from edge to edge.
FunctionalityOnly way to improve would be inclusion of image stabilization.

Best for affordable stargazing

Best for affordable stargazing: A wide aperture and 12x magnification make these excellent for observing the cosmos

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 56mm
Field of view: 5.5 degrees
Eye relief: 16mm (0.63-inch)
Weight: 36.2 oz / 1028g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build quality
+
Close focusing

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy for prolonged use
-
Image could be a touch sharper
Buy it if

✅ You want to take them anywhere in any weather: They were created with the outdoor enthusiast in mind, and they're waterproof and fogproof so you can use them anywhere.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to use them for prolonged periods: They may become quite heavy if you plan on using them for long periods handheld, so we'd opt for a more lightweight pair.

The bottom line

🔎 Celestron Nature DX 12x56 They offer bright and clear views, with a wide aperture for gathering light and magnification that is excellent for stargazing and wildlife spotting. ★★★★½

The Celestron Nature DX 12x56 binoculars represent excellent value for money for anyone looking for a sub-$250 pair of binoculars for casual wildlife-spotting, bird-watching or stargazing. The build quality is fantastic since they feature full rubber housing and they're completely waterproof, fogproof and nitrogen-purged. They include a tripod mount that could be useful for longer viewing sessions and a rain guard that protects the lenses from getting watermarked.

The focus knob is smooth and easy to turn, and they offer close focus of just under 10 feet, which is handy for anyone wanting to spot wildlife from their own backyard. Glasses-wearers will also be glad of the 16mm eye relief offered by the twist-up eyecups. For an affordable price, you can't go far wrong with these binoculars.

The optics on these binoculars are comparable to some more expensive models, featuring phase-coated BaK-4 prisms with multi-coated optics. They may not have the sharpness to satisfy professionals, but for casual users looking for an affordable pair to invest in, these are some of the best you could buy.

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Celestron Nature DX 12x56
AttributesNotes
DesignFogproof and waterproof.
PerformanceBright images even when observing in low light.
FunctionalityA little heavy for prolonged use.

Best binoculars under $300

Best binoculars under $300: Fogproof and waterproof for use in all weathers

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 8.1 degrees
Eye relief: 17mm (0.7-inch)
Weight: 23.1 oz / 654g

Reasons to buy

+
No fogging 
+
Bright images 
+
Wide field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
Carry case can’t house harness strap
-
Lack magnification for serious astro
Buy it if

✅ You want to travel with them: We found they were lightweight enough to travel with them easily, although perhaps not the best for prolonged periods of handheld use.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're serious about astro: For dedicated astro use, particularly for deep sky objects, they lack the magnification needed.

The bottom line

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