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Best telescopes and binoculars for stargazing in 2020

Telescopes and binoculars can be used year-round to see planets, stars and meteor showers. Here is the best gear for peering into space.
Person stargazing at night with a telescope. Shop the best telescopes and binoculars to watch meteor showers.
The American Meteor Society says meteor showers are most visible after midnight, but visibility also depends on your location and moonlight conditions — bringing along a telescope or a pair of binoculars will only enhance the experience.stevecoleimages / Getty Images

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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 between July and August, and warm weather provides opportunities to lay out a picnic blanket and watch the stars. Retailers like Walmart, REI and 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 — peak between July 28 and 29, which is when you'll have the best chance of seeing them. Perseids, another meteor shower, is active between July 14 and August 24, and the AMS predicts it will 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 or at a park (don’t forget your face mask), bringing along a telescope or a pair of binoculars will only enhance the experience. Here are 12 products that will help you see into outer space.

IN THIS ARTICLE Best telescopes | Best binoculars

Best telescopes of 2020

1. Orion GoScope III 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope Kit

This telescope kit has everything you need for successful stargazing. It features a telescope sporting two eyepieces with 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.

2. ToyerBee Astronomical Refractor Telescope Telescope

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 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.

3. Barska Starwatcher 675 Power Refractor Telescope

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.

4. Celestron 80AZS Powerseeker Telescope

Easy to travel with, this telescope weighs 10 pounds and has a collapsible tripod. The lens is built from glass-coated optical components, which makes images appear sharper and more refined. You can quickly tilt the telescope up or down, move it left and right and catch moving phenomena like shooting stars. The tripod also has an accessory tray that can hold your water bottle, keys and phone.

5. Galileo Refractor Telescope

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.

6. Landove Prism Spotting Scope

With 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.

7. Coleman AstroWatch 400 x 80 Refractor Telescope

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.

8. Moutec Kids Toy Telescope with Tripod

This easy-to-assemble telescope comes with step-by-step picture instructions for kids, so they can put it together themselves. It’s lightweight and portable, allowing kids to take it with them on playdates or while traveling, too. The telescope comes with a tripod, two eyepieces, a lens, a finder scope, a moon map and a star map. Kids can point their telescope toward the sky at night and enjoy looking at high-definition images.

Best Binoculars of 2020

1. Sharper Image Digital Camera Binoculars

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.

2. Nikon Prostaff Binoculars

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 it in your backpack without worrying about it breaking or weighing you down.

3. ESSLNB 10X50 BAK4 Binoculars

These binoculars have twist-up eyecups that make them comfortable to use, even with eyeglasses. They have a central focusing wheel so you can easily bring subjects into focus and see crisp images. The binoculars come with a phone adapter that allows you to take photos and videos of celestial objects, and they’re waterproof

4. Vanguard Spirit XF Binoculars

See up to 1000 yards of a landscape at once thanks to these 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.

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