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

A pair of the best binoculars can get you on your way to view wildlife and sporting events with striking clarity. Depending on the model, you can even use binoculars to go stargazing. 

The experts at Space.com know what the best specs and features in binoculars are, and they've rigorously put all of the models in this guide to the test in the field. We've only included their top picks in this guide, including options for all different purposes and budgets. 

A quality pair of binoculars should be comfortable to hold, easy to transport (even more so with the best compact binoculars) and safe to use in all weather conditions. Binoculars tend to be more portable and affordable than telescopes, making them a good choice for casual stargazing and wildlife watching. 

For sky-watching, you'll want to look for models with 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. 

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 photograph 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. 

With Amazon Prime Day next month, you could find a great deal on binoculars. Last year, the Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars were just $90.86 on Amazon, saving you an impressive 55%. Space.com will be covering the event and reporting on the best deals available in real time, so make sure to check the website regularly to be up to date.

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're a casual sky-watcher 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. ★★★★★

For hand-held astronomy, the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars are among the best you can get. Their standout feature is Canon's Optical Image Stabilization (IS). This clever technology uses gyroscope motion sensors to detect arm movements and a vari-angle prism to correct them by up to 0.8 degrees. With the push of a button, you can eliminate the movements caused by your hands shaking and get a steady image. This comes in particularly handy during long viewing sessions when your arms might get tired.

The Canon 10x42L IS WP 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. This ensures a bright and clear view with accurate color reproduction. During our Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars review, we were really impressed with the incredibly sharp image which featured no chromatic aberration, which is just what you need for observing stars.

The downside of these high-tech binoculars is that the IS system is quite power-hungry. It will go through a few AAA batteries during a long sky-watching session, so it's worth making sure you take some spare ones with you. We also weren't wholly satisfied with the accessories provided with these binoculars, especially considering the price point. We struggled to get the one-piece lens caps to stay in place, and 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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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 have a premium finish and deliver stunning optical performance. They'll last you for years to come.

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 previous option in this guide might be better for you.

The bottom line

🔎 Nikon Monarch HG 10x42: A premium package with a premium price, these binoculars are not ideal for beginner users unless you have deep pockets or a real passion for wildlife- or sky-watching that you plan on pursuing for years to come. ★★★★½

We loved the Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 so much that we found them hard to fault. These binoculars have a wide field of view and technology that keeps the entire image sharp, making them ideal for wildlife watchers.

During our Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 review, we were impressed by their excellent optics and almost complete absence of color distortion. This is thanks to Nikon's special coatings which can be found on all glass parts of the binoculars, and the fact they include Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass.

The Monarch HG 10x42 have a slim design with a roof prism, making them sleek and easy to carry in a coat pocket or around your neck. Even though they're not the lightest at 1.5 oz (680g), they are comfortable to use for long periods because of the soft and comfortable neck strap.

While they do come with a high price tag because of their exceptional optics and quality finish, we believe these binoculars provide excellent value for those who can afford them. They're 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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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.

The bottom line

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

The Celestron Nature DX 12x56 binoculars are a great deal for under $250, perfect for casual wildlife spotting, bird watching or stargazing. The build quality is fantastic: They have a full rubber housing and they're completely waterproof, fogproof and nitrogen-purged. The Nature DX 12x56 binoculars 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 knobs turn smoothly and easily. During our Celestron Nature DX 12x56 review, we appreciated that the binoculars can focus on objects less than 10 feet away, making them great for spotting wildlife in your backyard. If you wear glasses, you'll appreciate the 16mm eye relief provided by the twist-up eyecups.

The optics on these binoculars are comparable to some more expensive models as they feature 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, the Celestron Nature DX 12x56 are some of the best you can buy.