When you’re on the road, there’s no need to sacrifice your stargazing sessions. The solution is to pick up the best monocular for stargazing and astronomy purposes. The advantages of monoculars are that they’re lightweight, compact, and have the ability to deliver crisp images. In this article, we share a collection of stargazing monoculars to suit every budget.
Whether you’re here to find a stargazing monocular for your next backpacking trip, hiking, home use, or for casual use while on the go, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Before we get started, the first tip we have for you is to steer clear of budget glass if your budget allows for it.
The reason we say this is that monoculars are inherently harder to look through than binoculars, spotting scopes, and of course, telescopes. The last thing you want is a monocular with cheap glass that produces images with gnarly edge distortion. Additionally, you want a monocular that performs well at night to give you those bright, clear images you’re after.
What is the best monocular for stargazing?
While this question is open to debate, we feel that there are some key ingredients to look for in a good astronomy monocular. Below, we listed the key features we considered when choosing our top picks:
- Compactness – If you’re an experienced stargazer, chances are you already own a collection of glass. In our opinion, it’s wise to stick with a compact monocular for travel purposes rather than investing in a large monocular. Why? Once you go too big, you might as well buy a different optic because chances are, it’ll perform better than any monocular.
- Lens Quality – To get the clearest images, we stuck with premium optics brands and mid-range brands that don’t skimp on their glass. Also, we noticed that there are a lot of general companies who manufacture everything under the sun selling monoculars, e.g. Barska. We prefer to stick with companies that specialize in optics.
- FOV & Magnification – The better the monocular the easier it is to up the magnification. In most cases, 8X magnification won’t shake. Though, if you choose a monocular with 10X magnification, upping the objective lens size and the glass quality is smart. Plus, better optics produce wider FOVs under higher magnification.
Overall, those were the three key considerations we made along with a few additional ones.
Best Stargazing Monocular Reviews
Now, it’s time to unveil our picks. In each review, you’ll quickly find all the helpful information you need to make your final choice.
#1) Opticron DBA VHD+ 10×42 Monocular
It was tough to choose just one between our top two picks, but the Opticron DBA VHD+ came out the winner. Make no mistake, this is a premium monocular that’s available in 8×42 and 10×42 sizes. Compared to the popular BGA model, the DBA is even better. Comparatively, the DBA’s most noteworthy upgrade is the flat field vision achieved through the VHD+ optical system.
Field flattener lenses are excellent performers and featured on some of the most premium optics in the world, including Swarovski binos. With the flat field vision produced by the Opticron DBA, expect no edge distortion and improved clarity during your stargazing sessions. Then, couple that with the impressive FOV of 315 ft/1000 yards on the 10×42 model.
All in all, the Opticron DBA VHD+ is our favorite compact 10×42 monocular for stargazing. The blend of premium features and impressive specs in a tight package assures unforgettable nights. Lastly, a couple of final highlights to consider are the lifetime warranty, and the retractable eyecup + long eye relief make Opticron a great choice for eyeglass wearers.
- Razor-sharp field flat vision (eliminate edge distortion and chromatic aberration)
- Made in Japan
- True color reproduction
- Lightweight & compact at 11.8 oz and 5.7″ L x 2″ W (10×42)
- Limited lifetime warranty w/ good customer support
- Smooth & easy adjustments
- Tripod mount and tele-adapter accessories are available to increase magnification by a factor of 2
- Retractable eyecup and long eye relief for eyeglass wearers and better overall comfort
- The ocular lens cap might tend to come off
- Higher upfront cost
#2) Zeiss Mono Monocular (8×20 T or 10×25 T)
If you landed here today on the hunt for the lightest and most compact monocular for stargazing, here it is. When we shop for premium optics, there are three names we trust the most: Swarovski, Leica, and Zeiss. Of those three companies, two of them are German and have been in business for over a century. One of the said German companies is Zeiss.
In other words, when you invest in Zeiss optics, you know you’re getting some of the best optics on Earth. And what better optics to observe infinity than the best us earthlings have to offer?
Regarding specs, the 10×25 weighs just 2.7 oz and measures 4.7″. Consequently, it’s perfect for travel since you’ll forget it’s there until you need it. Next, the Schmidt-Pechan roof style prism w/ Zeiss’ T coating is what makes this monocular truly shine. This combination produces extremely clear high-contrast images in all light conditions. Lastly, the good news for Zeiss Victory FL and Conquest bino owners is the option to connect the Mono to create a high-powered spotting scope.
- Made in Germany
- Extremely lightweight and compact (small enough to slip into a pocket)
- The T coating makes for crystal-clear images and great performance when observing the night sky
- Zeiss lifetime warranty
- Available in 8X and 10X if you’re concerned about shaking
- Includes a high-quality leather case
- Lighter than the Leica Monovid
- Narrower FOV (285ft/1000 yards for the 10×25)
- Plastic housing isn’t the most durable
- The highest upfront cost of the models in this guide
- Not the best performer in adverse weather conditions
#3) Hawke Sport Optics Nature Trek Monocular
Now, if you’re looking for something a little more rugged to use for a wider range of activities beyond stargazing, Hawke’s Nature Trek fits the bill. Plus, compared to our first two picks, it’s a lot more affordable at the time of this writing. First, we like the large exit pupil along with the wide FOV offered by this model. There are multiple sizes available including 8×25, 8×42, and 10×42, and we feel as though the 8×42 hits the sweet spot for stargazing.
Going back to the FOV and exit pupil, the 8×42 has 388ft/1000 yards FOV and a 5.25 mm exit pupil diameter. These specs help to delay eye fatigue, and there’s enough FOV not to feel cramped. Next, the Nature Trek features a BAK-4 roof prism and anti-reflection fully multi-coated lenses that are popularly used on hunting optics.
This combination makes for brighter and clearer images that are of great quality at this price point. After those specs, it’s worthy to note the durability of the Nature Trek. Hawke incorporated a lightweight polycarbonate chassis with rubberized armor to provide ample protection without adding unnecessary weight. Finally, the Nature Trek is nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed for both waterproof & fog-proof performance in all weather.
- 8×42 and 10×42 available
- Extra-wide FOV for a monocular
- Large exit pupil diameter
- BAK4 prism for clearer images at night
- Waterproof & fog-proof construction for optimal performance in all weather
- Rugged construction
- Nearly unbeatable value for the money
- The easy-to-use precise focusing wheel
- Tripod mounting thread
- Lifetime warranty
- Not as bright and clear as our first two picks
- The 8×42 might be heavier than you’d like at 11.1 oz
#4) Orion 10-25×42 Zoom Waterproof Monocular
Next up is a great budget stargazing monocular with zoom. Firstly, Orion built this model with the stargazer mind. The monocular features a tripod-adapter socket, and the base package includes a soft nylon case with a belt loop for easy transport. Next, despite having a magnification range of 10x to 25x, this monocular telescope still manages to measure just 7″ long and weighs 12 oz to nearly match our first and third picks.
The beauty of the zoom feature is it gives you the ability to spot your target, then zoom in for better detail. This is especially useful for stargazing as we’re sure you already know. However, one drawback to consider is the diminished image quality as you zoom in. At 25x, you simply cannot expect this compact budget monocular to produce crystal-clear images.
Additionally, you might find that this model is the best monocular for stargazing and bird watching in our guide because of the zoom feature. With the zoom feature, you’re able to spot birds and zoom in on them from greater distances to enhance the overall birding experience. One last highlight is the twist-up rubber eyecup and 14 mm eye relief for comfortable viewing, particularly for eyeglass wearers.
- Good for people looking for a monocular for stargazing and birdwatching
- 10 to 25X magnifcation
- Lightweight at 12 oz
- Tripod-adapter socket
- Durable waterproof construction
- Diffcult to focus at higher magnifications
- More chromatic aberration than our first three picks
- The 1-year warranty isn’t on par with competitors
- Not as compact as our top picks
#5) Axeon Optics AM3 MonocuLight
Last up is our under-the-radar stargazing monocular pick. First, if you plan to do your stargazing along a night hike, this “monoculight” is a monocular and flashlight in one. We know, you might be thinking this product is gimmicky, however, it’s definitely not. The 250-lumen built-in flashlight is bright and perfect for navigating dark trails when you’re on the hunt for the perfect spot to do your stargazing.
Additionally, the advantage of having two devices in one means you can skip bringing a separate flashlight. On top of that, the AM3 is lightweight at 11.68 oz and measures just 5.5″ long. Second, the 8×32 size is a good one for stargazing, and you’ll find that the 390 ft/1000 yards FOV is one of the largest in this class.
Third, a nifty feature is the option to adjust the light from being a wide beam to a spotlight. A handful of final highlights are the generous 16mm eye relief, rubberized EZ-Grip cover, and the waterproof & fog-proof design. All things considered, this is a handy stargazing monocular being sold for a budget price.
- Extra-wide 390 ft/1000 yards FOV
- Built-in bright flashlight with the option to switch from a wide beam to a concentrated spotlight
- Lightweight for a 2-in-1 optic at under 12 oz
- Compact enough to slide into a pocket
- Perfect for people who plan to stargaze along a night hike
- Waterproof & fog-proof
- Limited lifetime warranty
- The exit pupil is smaller than other models at 4mm
- Inferior lenses compared to Zeiss, Opticron, and Hawke
We hope you had as much fun checking out our guide as we did while creating it. We specialize in monoculars, and we’re more than happy to help you choose the best monocular for stargazing. If we had to choose just one model, we would undoubtedly go with the Opticron DBA VHD+.
Overall, the DBA VHD+ is an exceptional performer in all weather with top-notch optics you certainly won’t find in budget brands. The field flat vision is a key ingredient to blast off your next stargazing session to Mars and back. Even the late, great Carl Sagan would have appreciated a peek through Opticron’s glass.
In conclusion, optics are almost always a ya-get-what-ya-pay-for type of purchase, but if decide to take the budget route, Hawke’s Nature Trek series is the first one to consider. Additionally, the Hawke Endurance ED series delivers great value for the money and doesn’t cost much more than the Nature Trek series at the time of this writing.