While you don’t always need special gadgets to watch celestial events light up the sky, telescopes and binoculars allow you to get a better look at space-related phenomena. The summer is filled with meteor showers through August, and warm weather provides opportunities to lay out a picnic blanket and watch the stars. Retailers like Walmart, REI and The Home Depot sell a selection of telescopes and binoculars, some of which can also help you capture photos of planets and constellations.
According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), there are currently three active meteor showers. Two of the three — Southern delta Aquariids and Alpha Capricornids — peaked between July 28 and 29, but you can still see them through the end of August. Perseids, another meteor shower, is active until August 24, and the AMS predicts it'll peak around August 12. The AMS says meteor showers are most visible after midnight, but visibility also depends on your location and moonlight conditions.
Whether you watch celestial events in your backyard, on a rooftop or at a park, bringing along a telescope or a pair of binoculars will only enhance the experience of watching stars, planets and meteor showers. Here are 12 top-rated products that will help you see into outer space.
Top-rated telescopes in 2021
Helpful for looking at the expansive sky, this telescope has a large aperture, which means it has a big field of vision. It comes with a moon mirror that makes viewing the moon easier and shows better details. The telescope has a spotting scope attached to the top of it, which helps with focusing on specific subjects and it can be used with the included two eyepieces that have different levels of magnification. This telescope comes with a phone adapter and a wireless remote, so you take pictures of what you see.
This telescope kit has everything you need for successful stargazing. It features a telescope with two eyepieces for different magnification levels, a planisphere, a guide book and a map to help you identify celestial objects. Everything fits in the included backpack, making traveling with this lightweight kit convenient. There's an adjustable tripod so people of all heights can see detailed images of the skies.
This highly rated and easy-to-assemble telescope comes with step-by-step picture instructions and is a great option for kids and beginners. It’s lightweight and portable, allowing kids, teens and adults to take it with them while traveling or hanging out with friends. The telescope comes with an adjustable tripod, two replaceable eyepieces, a lens and a finderscope. Kids can point their telescope toward the sky at night and enjoy looking at high-definition images.
The telescope was created with beginners and young astronomers in mind, so it is simple to set up and easy to use. It comes with a finderscope, two eyepieces, a mount and an adjustable tripod, giving you everything you need to start looking at constellations. Deepsky Astronomy Software is included with this telescope, which you can upload onto your computer. The software has a database that allows you to search for information about celestial objects, log your observations and create star charts.
Easy to travel with, this lightweight telescope weighs about 5 pounds and has a collapsible tripod that includes an accessory tray to store items like your water bottle, keys and phone. It comes with three eye pieces that have 4-, 12- and 20-millimeter focal lengths to make images appear sharper and more refined, a 3x Barlow lens to triple the power of each eyepiece and a 1.5x erecting eyepiece that allows for right-side-up viewing of terrestrial objects. You can quickly tilt the telescope up or down, move it left and right and catch moving phenomena like shooting stars.
The mount of this telescope allows you to change your view of the sky from vertical to horizontal within seconds. It has up to 100x power magnification that brings stars into view, and it comes with two interchangeable eyepieces. The telescope has a built-in 90-degree diagonal mirror that produces clear, fully vertical images and sits atop a stable tripod base.
With a magnification power of 20x to 60x, this telescope allows you to zoom in on objects that are far away and still see them clearly. It has a lens focusing system that helps bring targets into view, and its high definition lens makes images appear bright — even in the shade. This telescope comes with a phone adapter, a tripod, a cleaning cloth and two lens covers, which can fit into the included bag.
The telescope comes with Starry Night CD Software that teaches beginners about planets, constellations and space. The telescope comes with two eyepieces and it has an adjustable tripod. It also has two tubes that you can use to adjust the tilt and direction of the lens.
Top-rated binoculars of 2021
Don’t worry if you get stuck in the rain while watching a meteor shower — these binoculars are waterproof. They’re also fog-proof, which helps ensure that the lenses won’t get cloudy in the humidity. The binoculars are lightweight and durable, so you can throw them in your backpack without worrying about them breaking or weighing you down.
After zooming in on your subject with these binoculars, you can capture photos and videos with the press of a button. The binoculars have a micro SD memory card installed in them that saves your photos and videos, which you can take out to upload images to your computer or phone. You can also replace the included memory card with one that has a bigger storage capacity. The binoculars have a tripod connector that allows you to attach them to a standard camera tripod — they include a neck strap if you want to carry them around. These binoculars have a built-in rechargeable battery and charge via a USB cable.
If you’re looking for a powerful set of binoculars for astronomical viewing, this option has a 25x magnification and 100-millimeter objective lenses, the brand’s largest aperture available in binoculars. They’re also water-resistant and come with an integrated tripod adapter so you can utilize them hands-free. The rubber around the eyes blocks stray light and the eyecups can be folded down for people who wear glasses.
See up to 1,000 yards of a landscape at once thanks to this binoculars’ wide field of view. The water- and fog-proof binoculars have twist-out eyecups that will stay in place while you use them and a textured rubber grip made to keep users’ hands comfortable.