One of the easiest is a laser pointer. The best astronomy laser pointer can help you line up your optical device and pinpoint celestial targets with ease.
What is a Laser Pointer?
Chances are, you’ve played around with laser pointers at some point! At its core, an astronomy laser pointer is the same. It uses the same technology as laser pointers you’ve seen at school or those tiny devices that pick up information in your Blu-Ray player.
Basically, a laser is a small handheld device that contains a laser diode. The diode produces a beam of visible light and energy.
In the astronomy world, laser pointers are handy little accessories that can help you point to specific celestial objects like the moon or faraway planets. Small enough to fit in your pocket, you can take them anywhere to ensure that your optics are pointed in the right direction.
How Do Laser Pointers Help With Astronomy?
There are many ways that you can use a laser pointer! Many stargazers use them in tandem with the telescope. Oftentimes, it’s used in lieu of a traditional finder scope. While you can certainly use them with other guiding equipment, lasers provide enough visibility to help you point your telescope with the naked eye.
Just attach the laser pointer to the optical tube of your telescope. In this arrangement, the beam will be parallel to the direction of the optics. Thus, you can use it to ensure that your telescope is properly aligned and facing the target you want to observe.
Of course, you can also use the laser on its own. It’s a great educational accessory that serves as a visual aid. Maybe you want to give kids or bystanders a bit of information about a particular star. What better way to guide your star party than to use a laser beam?
Best Astronomy Laser Pointer Reviews
There’s no shortage of laser pointers on the market today. But if you want to use that laser light to guide you in your stargazing adventures, you’re going to need a high-quality accessory built with astronomy in mind. Here are some of our favorite astronomy laser pointers.
This laser pointer from DinoFire isn’t purpose-built for astronomy. But, that doesn’t make it any less capable. This handheld laser utilizes a green laser diode. It produces an ultra-bright beam of light that you can see for thousands of feet!
When you’re not using it for astronomy, the pointer works well for presentations. It has a magnetic USB dongle to connect to your computer. There are also several buttons to control other operations on your device.
The laser features a sleek design and a small footprint. With the right mounting bracket, it will fit seamlessly on your telescope for stargazing.
- Green laser
- Rechargeable battery
- Integrated clip
- Wireless controller
- USB dongle
Check out this tactical laser. It has a rough and tumble design, making it look like a lightsaber! The device has plenty of power, too. It uses a 5 mW green laser, which offers the right amount of illumination for astronomers.
The boy of this pen laser is also very compact. Made of an aluminum alloy, the device can withstand a lot of wear and tear as you travel to your favorite stargazing spot. When mounted on a telescope, it’s easy to get things just right. There are simple alignment adjustments and a switch on the back to turn it on.
- 532 nm green laser
- Aluminum alloy body
- Uses CR123a battery
- Elevation and windage adjustments
- Simple rear button switch
Like the previous unit, this laser from Braska has a tactical design. It’s originally made for rifles. However, it easily transitions to astronomy use. Measuring a mere 1 inch in diameter, it’s a compact laser pointer that you can easily attach to your telescope with the right mount.
One thing we like about this pointer is its versatility. You’re getting two adjustment knobs to zero-in on your target and perfect the alignment. A push-button switch on the back allows for easy operation. But if you want even more flexibility, you can attach the included long cable switch. Position the switch closer to your telescope mount for easy operation.
- 532 nm green laser
- 1 inch in diameter
- Uses CR123a battery
- T6 aluminum housing
- Windage and elevation adjustments
- Comes with long cable switch
Looking for a no-frills laser you can take anywhere? Check out this model from Higoo. You’re not going to see a ton of fancy features like some of the other lasers on this list. But that’s what makes it so great.
The unit is easy to set up and even easier to operate. There’s a single push-button switch on the back. There’s no need to fiddle around with adjustments. Thus, it’s good for handheld use. The laser does come with a simple barrel mount. But, it’s best suited for specialty telescope mounts if you want to use it for positioning.
- Class 3A green laser
- Uses CR2 battery
- Rear push-button switch
- Aluminum alloy housing
No astronomy laser pointer is complete without a telescope mounting bracket. This one from Serounder is quite versatile. It’s made to fit mounting holes on Celestron, Sky-Watcher, and Vixen telescopes. But, you can easily use it on other brands if you have the same hole arrangement.
The bracket is made of aluminum alloy and features two wide mounting rings. These rings hold three nylon-tipped screws each. You can use the screws to affix laser pointers in a range of sizes. Not only that, but the screws are great for making fine-tuned adjustments to positioning.
- Made of an aluminum alloy
- Two mounting rings
- Nylon-tipped screws
- Fits lasers as small as 5mm in diameter
Choosing the Right Laser Pointer
Laser pointers look simple. But, they are more complex than most people give them credit for! The tiny laser diode is capable of producing a lot of energy to create a visible beam. If you’re not careful, you could end up getting a laser that poses a safety risk. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while you shop.
The first thing you’ll notice about astronomy lasers is that they can produce different colors. Believe it or not, the color of your beam of light can have an impact on its overall visibility.
Generally, green laser pointers are considered to be the best for astronomy purposes. Green lights are several times more powerful than traditional red laser pointers. Green lasers produce a beam that’s 532 nanometers. We’ll get into the importance of that in a bit. But for now, the important thing to know is that green lasers are visible from thousands of feet in good conditions. If you get a higher power laser, you may be able to see it for miles.
Red lasers are not as powerful as green ones. But, tend to be safer. Red laser pointers operate at 671 nanometers. You often see red diodes in smaller applications, such as in a classroom. They’re not the best for astronomy.
Yellow laser pointers are one of the rarer color options. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, you’ll see why. Operating at around 593.5 nanometers, they are quite weak. Plus, these lasers have a hard time holding a steady light beam over a long period.
Finally, there are blue laser pointers. Blue beams are very popular. Typically found in Blu-Ray players, these diodes emit a blue beam at 405 nanometers. A blue pointer has the most efficient burning power. You can still use them for astronomy. But, you have to be more careful about where you are pointing it.
All lasers operate at a specific wavelength, which is measured in nanometers. For the human eye, wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm are within the visible range. That’s why you only see lasers in red, blue, green, and yellow. They operate at the best wavelength for us to see.
That said, peak visibility for the human eye is around 555 nm. That’s why green laser pointers, which operate at 532 nm, are considered the best for astronomy.
In laser terms, power refers to the amount of energy the beam can produce. This is a critical specification you want to pay attention to. Lasers can run the gamut in terms of safety. Lower-powered units won’t produce any major issues. But high-power lasers are fully capable of starting a fire or burning through the skin.
The FDA breaks down laser power into several classes. There are four to be exact. But, for astronomy pointers, you’ll only see three. The highest class is the most dangerous, so you will be hard-pressed to find one on the consumer market.
The three available pointer classes are broken up further into subclasses. These subclasses help to give you a better idea about power output, performance, and overall safety.
To keep things simple, stick to a laser pointer that operates at 5 milliwatts. A 5 mW pointer is perfect for astronomy purposes. You will find these in class IIIA, which is sometimes referred to as class 3A. More powerful lasers do exist. Those in class IIIB can produce upwards of 500 mW! However, class 3B lasers are far too powerful for the astronomy world.
What to Avoid
You have to be careful about the type of laser you choose. While there are many great options from Amazon and other retailers, not all of them are going to be suitable for use in your area.
Some jurisdictions have strict laws in place about laser power. You may even have restrictions about where you can use it.
Generally, we recommend steering clear of any laser that doesn’t provide any class information. If you’re not able to see output specs or a class category, move onto something else!
On average, lasers have a battery life of four to six hours. So, there’s going to come a time when you need to replace the battery. Keep this in mind!
Some lasers utilize rechargeable batteries. While rechargeable units are good for reducing waste and saving some money on replacement costs, they can be troublesome if you don’t have an outlet nearby.
If you plan on using your laser for several hours non-stop, you may want to go with a model that has replacement batteries. Some utilize simple AAA batteries you can get at any convenience store. Others will only take harder-to-find batteries, such as CR2 or CR123 sizes.
Laser Pointer Health and Safety
Before you start stargazing with your laser pointer, it’s good to familiarize yourself with local laws first. There might be some rules that restrict you from using a laser within the vicinity of an airport or other high-security area. You don’t want to get arrested or fined, so make sure you understand laws regarding the use of laser pointers outdoors.
That brings us to our second point. Never point your laser at a vehicle. This includes aircraft or land vehicles. Do a quick Google search and you’ll learn a bit more about the ramifications of doing so. It’s against the law and could result in some serious jail time. Lasers can disrupt pilots and drivers, creating a very serious safety risk.
You should also avoid pointing the laser at anything metal. Lasers reflect just like any other light source. There’s no way to plan where the laser is going to bounce, so it’s best to keep the beam pointed to the sky.
Also, never point it towards your eyes or the eyes of any person or animal. Avoid pointing it at anyone else using a telescope or optical device, too.
Lasers are very powerful and can cause flash blindness. This is temporary or permanent visual impairment. Lasers are fully capable of burning retinas and doing some serious damage.
The biggest takeaway should be to exercise caution with a laser pointer. They look fun, but these accessories aren’t toys. Don’t give it to a child and be extra careful where you point the narrow beam.
Astronomy laser pointers are a great investment for any hobbyist. They can either replace traditional finderscopes or complement other guiding systems. No matter how you choose to use them, laser pointers are small and light enough to take anywhere. It’s good to have one on you just in case! Take a look at some of our recommended picks and find a laser to serve your stargazing endeavors!