Even if you are a fan of astronomy, you don’t even need a telescope; it’s a huge and diverse pastime. To get the best of both worlds, you can use a spotting scope that doubles as both a telescope and a terrestrial scope.
It is easier to use a spotting scope because it only has one eyepiece, especially if you have an overly dominant eye. If you are unfamiliar with spotting scopes, this article is for you.
Our top picks for a spotting scope for astronomy
If you are having a hard time deciding what spotting scope to purchase for your astronomy needs, you can choose from any of these recommendations:
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope
Vortex Optics Razor HD is your best bet if you only care about the best spotting scope and don’t care about pricing. Thanks to its 85mm objective lens, you can see a great deal of detail in the sky and take some stunning images with your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Even though it has a lot of glass and lens parts, it is very straightforward to use. Moreover, its visual quality sets it apart from its competitors. Because of its big, easy-to-grip focus ring that can be found even in complete darkness, this spotting scope makes it simple to quickly get the vital focus you need.
- Lightproof and portable
- Waterproof and fog proof
- With Armortrek coatings for extra protection against dirt and scratches
- No drawbacks mentioned
Orion 9823 Apex 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
One of Orion’s best products, the Apex Telescope, is well worth consideration when shopping for new equipment. When it comes to producing high-quality telescopes and optics, Orion has a long history. A good example of this is the Apex 102mm Telescope.
The closest competition to Orion is Celestron. It’s a Maksutov-Cassegrain with a hefty 102mm focal length. This has enough power to comfortably observe the moon, stars, and planets at night while simultaneously providing a small scope for daytime use.
With less than two feet in length and weighing a little more than five pounds, there is no need to worry about its weight.
- Also, has a soft carrying case included
- Lightweight and portable; great for on-the-go use
- Comes with an eyepiece with a 25mm Sirius Plossl 1.25′′ focal length
- Versatile; can be used for both terrestrial and astronomical purposes
- Includes finder scope with 626 correct-image resolution and 45-degree diagonal with correct-image alignment
- Doesn’t come with a tripod or a mounting system
Nikon Prostaff 5 Proscope
The Nikon Prostaff 5 is an extremely versatile spotting scope thanks to its magnification range of 20x to 60x and an 82mm objective lens, allowing you to observe large and small animals and celestial objects like the Moon or Jupiter.
This is an excellent spotting scope for those who value portability over bulk. Moreover, Nikon’s Coolpix digital compact cameras are compatible with the Prostaff 5, allowing you to assemble a portable digiscoping rig.
- Compact size and weight
- High-resolution optical system
- Comes with a carrying bag for ease of transport
- Has a built-in parasol to protect it from the sun’s rays.
- No drawbacks mentioned
Celestron C70 Mini Mak Spotting Scope
Many nice features are packed into this Celestron 52388 C70 Mini Spotting Scope. While just weighing 2.3 pounds and having a relatively portable design, it nonetheless provides a wide range of alternatives for viewing wildlife or sporting events at distances up to 500 yards. It is compatible with various astronomical eyepieces.
- Comes with a carrying case and tripod
- With a universal adaptor for smartphone digiscoping
- Lightweight and compact; can fit in luggage or backpack
- Not as sharp as the high-quality scopes
Vortex Viper HD
This high-end product is designed for a power user because of its premium spotting experience, power, and functionality.
The Viper HD is available in both a straight and an angled design. Generally speaking, if you’re using it for photography, you’ll want the 45-degree model. A standard screw size may be used with any tripod that accepts the Manfrotto RC2 rapid-release tripod head.
Using a tripod, you may adjust the camera’s viewing angle to suit your needs. Additionally, the eyepiece may be adjusted for additional comfort.
These lenses contain an XR anti-reflective coating that improves low-light performance and an Armortek coating that protects the exterior of the lenses from scratches.
- Waterproof and fog-proof
- Sturdy and damage-resistant
- Excellent power and performance
- Comes with a Vortex VIP warranty
- With a sunshade for reducing glare.
- Available in a variety of magnification settings
Visionking 25-75×70 Maksutov Spotting Scope
The Visionking 25-7570 Maksutov is an excellent first spotting scope if you’re new to exploring the outdoors and want a simple, portable device. It offers a wide range of magnification.
You’ll see everything from the Moon’s craters in great detail to tiny birds perched on tree branches. A spotting scope works best when attached to a tripod. Therefore the tripod that comes with the scope is a must-have accessory.
- Simple and portable
- Has a wide range of magnification
- Comes with a carrying bag for added portability
- Should have a tripod
Gosky Spotting Scope with Tripod
The Gosky Spotting Scope has a solid build and decent visual quality at a reasonable price. It is also very easy to use. Thanks to its gripping and rubberized body, which will allow you to clutch it tightly even if it rains or snows outdoors and battle any needless shakiness.
With the supplied smartphone adaptor, you’ll be able to capture images of anything that strikes your fancy and post them on social media. While magnifying, you’ll be able to see finer, more minute features on the Moon or other celestial objects with its optical formula’s excellent image quality.
- Comes with a smartphone adaptor
- Not the most portable or light-weight option
The Emarth 20-60x60AE is a good entry-level digiscoping spotting scope if you’re just a casual observer or don’t have a large budget. However, if you’re serious about it, you should consider investing in a higher-quality scope.
If you’re hoping to use the tripod with your phone, it should hold up nicely; the legs of the tripod can be extended to a height of around a foot (30cm). It’s good that the accessories are included at such a low price, even though not being the best quality. A lens cleaning cloth and a travel case are included with the Emarth.
- Value for money
- With a stretchable hood for protection against the sun’s glare
- Does not come with an adaptor
- Image clarity and sharpness deteriorate over a 40x magnification
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme is a well-known and established firm specializing in sports and outdoor optics. The company gives a lifetime warranty without any questions.
Both the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme spotting scope and the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme compact spotting scope are available in 20-60×65. A Porro-prism design with multi-coated lenses allows for up to 91 percent light transmission in both models.
The spotting scope uses a common 1/4″ screw size, so it’ll work with nearly any tripod. The tripod is around 12″ high, but you can use a larger one. Mounting the spotting scope on the tripod allows you to swivel easily and adjust the viewing angle without moving the scope.
- Inclusive of a tripod and window mount
- Comes with a quality waterproof hard case and a small soft case for added protection
- No drawbacks mentioned
Spotting Scope and telescope: similarities and differences
The most popular telescopes have a lot in common with spotting scopes. Both are optical tubes designed to provide clear images even when magnified.
The fundamental difference between a spotting scope and a regular telescope is minimal. Overall power and the imaging procedure are the two most significant differences between the two devices. A telescope’s focal length, power, and field of view are all significantly greater than those of a spotting scope.
A spotting scope’s primary purpose is to focus on terrestrial objects. Typically, this means lower magnification levels, closer focusing distances, and integrated picture diagonals that keep images vertical.
What to consider when buying a spotting scope for astronomy
Before you purchase a spotting scope for astronomy, take the following aspects and functionalities into consideration:
A spotting scope’s magnification range is similar to the zoom of a telephoto lens in terms of its magnification capabilities. With a wide range, you can use the scope in a variety of situations and for a variety of subjects.
Diameter of the objective lens
The diameter of the objective lens refers to the front lens size. A larger objective lens provides you with a brighter image but is heavier, so if weight is an issue, you’ll need to look for a compact spotting scope.
Spotting scope shape
The spotting scope must have a specific shape to identify whether your subject and your eye are on the same optical axis. You must turn your head toward the object with straight scopes to see the subject clearly. On the other hand, an angled scope allows you to sit or lie down while viewing upwards at a 45-degree angle.
Durability and functionality
A wide choice of features is available for you to choose from when it comes to finding the ideal spotting scope for your needs. Check the dimensions, weight, and features such as focus control and glare protection. Take into consideration the device’s material and whether or not it is water- and weather-proof.
Ask yourself if the specifications and features you’re looking at are really what you need and how often you plan to put them to use. This is because the most expensive spotting scopes are more expensive than a camera.
A spotting scope is an excellent choice for a lightweight, powerful zooming instrument that can be used with a smartphone or dedicated camera to capture high-quality images and films of planets, stars, and even wildlife, sports, and historical sites.
With the wide array of choices in the market nowadays, picking a device can be overwhelming. That is why we collated our top picks in the list above to help you choose.
Last update on 2023-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API