Want to get a closer look at the stars above without the hassle of setting up a telescope? If so, then a high-powered monocular is for you! Telescopes have a lot to offer in terms of magnification and clarity. While portable telescopes with simple setups do exist, sometimes you just want something a bit more lightweight and versatile. That’s where the best monoculars for stargazing come in.
Monoculars aren’t as widespread as telescopes. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to find a good product worth putting your money into. Luckily, we’re here to help.
We’ve scoured the market to pick some of the very best monoculars for stargazing. Check them out below!
Best Monoculars for Stargazing Reviewed
From Bushnell is this heavy-duty monocular. The entire unit is built out of high-quality plastic. The internal components are completely sealed, creating a water and fog-proof design.
Inside the monocular telescope, you’re getting BaK-4 roof prisms. Made of Barium Crown glass, these prisms offer exceptional clarity and better light transmission. The shape of the prism also opens up the field of vision a bit rather than cutting it off with a square-shaped design.
Pair the high-quality prism with the multi-coated optics and you have a monocular that can give you a crystal-clear view of the stars.
- BaK-4 prisms
- 10X magnification
- Coated optics
- Waterproof and fog-proof build
- 42mm aperture
- Built-in rail
Here’s a monocular that can hold up to whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at it. Not only is this unit resistant to water and fog, but it also holds up well in extreme climates. The device can also resist internal damage after a fall.
In addition to its rugged build, this monocular provides some impressive stargazing performance. The 50mm aperture improves the light-gathering capabilities of the device. Meanwhile, the long focal length provides 12X magnification power.
- Roof prisms
- Damage-proof design
- Simple focuser knob
- Wrist strap
- Attached lens cover
- Weighs only 14 ounces
Want a monocular that works in low-light conditions? This model from Night Owl has you covered. It has built-in infrared night vision. Powered by a simple 3-volt battery, the night vision technology is quite effective at improving light visibility. In total, it can amplify the light going in by about 50 times!
The body of the monocular is built for comfort and durability, too. It has a rubber-coated finish and an impact-resistant build. Thanks to the single-knob focuser and the included strap, you can operate this device with one hand.
- 5X magnification
- 50mm aperture
- 50x light amplification
- Rubberized finish
- Infrared night vision
Rain and shine, this monocular can continue giving you the close-up view you’re after. The internal components are argon-purged. This helps to prevent internal fogging and other moisture issues. But that’s not all.
The monocular has a heavy-duty housing that resists shocks, water penetration, and more. It’s clad in a thick rubber armor to provide the very best protection possible.
The monocular is sporting a wide 55mm aperture and a decent focal length. In total, the optical device provides up to 12X magnification.
- Integrated lens protector
- Comfortable hand strap
- Argon purged
- Shockproof housing
- Long eye relief
- Smartphone adapter
Here’s another great option from Gosky worth checking out. This is a multi-purpose monocular that you can use during the day and at night.
It’s sporting a high-quality BaK-4 prism. The prism helps to reduce chromatic aberration and improve light transmission. The final result? An ultra-clear image with true-to-life colors.
One this we like about this particular monocular is its mountable base. It comes with a versatile tripod. You can also use a larger stand to keep the unit steady. There’s even a smartphone mount for astrophotography.
- BaK-4 prism
- Multi-coated lens
- Rubber armor
- Mountable base
- Smartphone adapter
- Simple focuser knob
Measuring only a hair over six inches in length, this monocular from Vortex is one of the most compact around. It’s very lightweight and includes a handy clip to attach it to a bag or belt.
Don’t let the small size fool you. This monocular performs very well in most lighting conditions. When you look through the adjustable eyepiece, you can see a basic reticle design. The reticle can help gauge distance while also making it easy to focus in on your target in the sky.
- 32mm aperture
- 8X magnification
- Anti-reflective lens
- Large focus wheel
- Texturized rubber coating
- Adjustable eyecup
- Compact size
This monocular is even smaller than the last! Tipping the scales at a mere 2.7 ounces, this is a device that’s not going to weight you down. Stuff it in your pocket or attach a neck strap to wear it while you travel. You won’t even realize it’s there!
From a performance standpoint, the small size does sacrifice some efficiency. But, the high-quality optics make up for the smaller aperture. The device features coated lenses to ensure that you’re getting great light transmission.
- 18mm aperture
- 7X magnification
- Multi-coated optics
- Neck strap attachment loop
- Texturized grip
- Lightweight and compact design
Leica is one of the most respected optics brands in the world. This Monovid monocular shows why. It’s very well-built and features a sleek design you can bring anywhere. The device even comes with a plush leather case for storage!
The high-quality optics improve image quality. They’re coated to prevent phase shifts and distortion. The lens also repels dirt and moisture to ensure that external grime doesn’t ruin your image. Thanks to the central focus knob, you can easily hone in on your target with one hand.
- Roof prism
- Phase correction lens coating
- Central focuser knob
- Strap attachment loop
- Comes with leather case
- Simple tube design
Check out this zooming monocular from Orion. It performs like most other monoculars on this list. But, you can manually adjust the magnification level to get the experience you’re after. The device provides 10X to 25X magnification.
You can even use it up close. The focuser system can provide a clear image of objects as close as 20 inches.
This monocular is great for travel and long-term mounting. Mounting hardware on the bottom lets you use it on a tripod. Meanwhile, the travel case and neckstrap let you take it anywhere.
- Up to 25X magnification
- Multi-coated lens
- Streamlined design
- Short focus capabilities
- Comes with case and neckstrap
From Celestron is this ergonomic waterproof monocular. The first thing you’ll notice about this device is its unique shape. Rather than a normal tube-like design, Celestron went with something a bit more comfortable for the hand. It’s molded and features finger contours for better grip as you stargaze.
The entire housing is coated in rubber, too. Even the eyecap has soft rubber material for comfort! The monocular is completely sealed and protected from water or fog.
- High resolution and contrast
- Waterproof and fog-proof
- Contoured housing
- Rubber coating
- One-hand focus
- Soft rubber eyecup
Looking for an all-in-one kit? Feast your eyes on this unique monocular set. It comes with everything you would need to start stargazing. You’re getting a durable mounting tripod, a built-in lens cap, a travel case, and even a smartphone adapter. The unit sets up in minutes to provide a clear view of the stars.
The BaK-4 prism does a lot to reduce distortion. However, the lens is coated to provide additional benefits. In total, the monocular has an impressive light transmittance rating of 99.6!
- BaK-4 prism
- 99.6 light transmission
- Coated optics
- Great water protection
- Comes with several accessories
If you’re on a budget, this monocular from Vabogu offers a lot of bang for your buck. It provides high magnification levels and good light transmission. The aperture is already pretty wide at 50mm. But if you’re in low-light conditions, the monocular also has night vision capabilities.
The body of the monocular is well-built, too. It’s sealed to prevent moisture and fog penetration. The housing is covered in a texturized rubber as well. This improves your grip. You can use it with once hand without sacrificing performance.
- BaK-4 prism
- Wide field of view
- Coated lens
- Easy manual focus
- Night vision
What is a Monocular and Why Buy One?
Many people think that you need an enormous telescope to go stargazing. While they certainly help, monoculars do a fantastic job, too.
To put things simply, monoculars are basically miniaturized refracting telescopes. They are optical devices that use a series of lenses to magnify the image.
The easiest way to look at these devices is to think of them as one half of a pair of binoculars. Monoculars feature a lot of the same technology as binoculars. But, they only feature one objective lens and eyepiece!
Monocular telescopes have a lot to offer. However, their biggest draw is portability. These devices are compact and made for outdoor use. That’s a stark contrast to traditional telescopes, which usually have enormous optical tube assemblies and clunky tripods.
Most monoculars are small enough to wear around your neck, stuff in a pocket, or stash in a backpack. Not only that, but you can use them with one hand. Quickly whip the monocular out when you see a clearing to get a view of the stars. There are no complicated setup or major requirements to get a clear view.
The magnification power you get isn’t going to be the same as a telescope. That said, monoculars still offer plenty of power to appreciate the cosmos. There’s a lot of optical gear inside these handheld viewing devices!
Best Monoculars For Stargazing Buying Guide
Monoculars come in a wide range of designs and specifications. There are tons of options on the market for you to choose from. Just take one look through Amazon and you’re bound to find hundreds. If you’re not familiar with spec sheets and technical jargon, picking up the right one is easier said than done.
Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a hobbyist looking to invest in their first monocular, use the following factors to zero-in on the perfect device for you.
With large telescopes, light is passing through several glass lenses and mirrors before it makes it to your eye. The same goes for monoculars. But, a different type of technology is used to keep these devices as compact as possible. Manufacturers utilize prisms.
There are two main types of prism designs used in monoculars. Both work alongside the objective lens and eyepiece to magnify the image. However, they offer different results.
The first is a roof prism. If you were to cut the monocular in half and take a look at the prisms, they’d look like nothing more than a couple of pieces of cut glass. But in reality, roof prisms are fine-tuned optical devices with great precision.
The prisms are uniquely shaped to bounce light strategically. As light enters the monocular, it reflects off of multiple sides of the prism before hitting the eyepiece. The result is a more direct path and compact shape.
Roof prisms tend to be more expensive than the alternative. But, manufacturers are able to stuff the prism into a much smaller monocular body. So, the final product is usually more streamlined and compact in terms of design.
With a Porro prism, light bounces in a more uniform zigzag pattern. Like roof prisms, Porros look rather simple at face value. Yet, they’re precision cut to provide the best light path possible.
Because the path is more controlled, Porro prism monoculars often provide great optics. The image is slightly clearer than the one you’d get on a roof prism. Not only that, but the final image has a better field of view and provides better depth perception.
The downside of a Porro prism monocular? It’s all about the size! Porro prisms are clunkier, which affects the overall shape of the device.
Focal Length and Magnification Power
Whether your monocular telescope has a Porro prism or a roof prism, there are other specifications to consider. One of the most important is magnification power.
When you shop for monoculars, you’ll likely see two numbers somewhere in the description. Those numbers aren’t just random. They’re optical descriptors that provide you with more information about the monocular’s capabilities at a glance. For example, you might see a product labeled as 7×50.
The first number refers to the magnification power. In the example above, the monocular would provide 7X magnification! That’s easy enough to understand, but what does this have to do with the focal length?
Well, the focal length directly impacts magnification capabilities. The focal length refers to the distance between the outermost lens, the objective lens, and the focal plane. The focal plane is where the light converges to create the image.
A longer focal length will result in more magnification! Of course, monoculars are all about portability, so don’t expect to get a lengthy device with an ultra-high focal length.
The next measurement to consider is aperture. Remember our number descriptor from earlier? Well, the second number reflects the aperture. In the 7×50 example, the monocular has an aperture of 50mm.
The aperture is the diameter of the objective lens. This is the very first lens that the light hits to enter the monocular. It impacts overall brightness and clarity. A wider lens diameter is going to let the light flood into the monocular and create a crystal-clear picture.
Field of View
The human eye usually has about a 180-degree field of view. Thanks to our peripheral vision, we can get a wide view of whatever we’re looking at. Unfortunately, you can’t achieve the same results when looking through an optical device.
The more magnification a monocular has, the lower the field of view. This could impact your ability to get a close-up view of the stars. A wider field of view will let you see more of the night sky at once.
Monocular telescopes are designed to be put through the wringer. But, some models are hardier than others. Think about where you plan on taking your monocular and choose a model that can hold up well to environmental hazards and wear and tear.
Many manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their monoculars are as resistant to damage as possible. You might see water-resistant builds, shockproof design, and more. Devices covered in protective rubber armor will hold up much longer than bare-bone units.
Night Vision Capabilities
Monoculars need light to produce an image. Sometimes, the light shining from your target star system is not enough. Luckily, many monocular compensate for this by having night vision.
Night vision technology utilizes light that’s reflected from the sun. It amplifies whatever light is available. This benefits the focal plane and creates a bright image.
Even when you’re looking up at the stars, night vision technology can do a lot to improve visibility.
No one’s eyes are the same. A great focuser system ensures that everyone using the monocular can make adjustments that work for their eyes.
Look out for one-handed focuser knobs. You can also get units with diopter eyecups for greater precision. Those models work great for those with eyeglasses.
A couple of extra performance features here and there can take monoculars to the next level. Many seasoned astronomers utilize monoculars as spotting scopes before focusing a larger telescope.
Units with good low light transmission and a reticle could help with that task.
Many monoculars also come with features focused on daytime use. For example, you might see rangefinders to help you calculate distance while bird-watching.
As you can see, you have a lot of great units to consider! The best monoculars for stargazing are going to have great optics and some handy features to help you make the most out of your time under the stars. Give one of these monoculars a shot and see what kind of galactic wonders you can view.