Binocular vs. Telescope: What’s Best for Astronomy

In the field of astronomy, there are two essential instruments that people need, telescopes and binoculars. Stargazing and moon watching are enjoyable and at their best when you pick the right piece, considering the location where you will perform your observation and the distance you want to reach with your scopes.

Although both telescopes and binoculars enhance the magnification of the celestial objects in the galaxy, may it be an Orion nebula or the other galaxies in the Universe, each device has a particular specification purpose that set it apart from another.

You See, With Your Brain

binoculars on a mount, boat, aircraft, and port reflected on the lenses

Your eyes are very complex and sensitive to light, but they can marvelously adapt to sensing light and color and react to brightness and darkness. However, the brain also plays a very crucial role in building your moving picture of the world. You see with your eyes, but depth perception works out by the brain.

The vast Universe has overwhelming views, and the enormous space itself makes it a magnificent place for observation. Even though it is challenging to perceive its depth, if you have oriented yourself in advance about the objects you will be observing, you may even see the Universe in 3D using a binocular that makes mental gymnastics faster easier.

The Power of Two Eyes

Two eyes will always be better than one; try covering one eye and observe the things around you; your vision and even your physical balance will be affected if you have a single eye functioning. The perfectly spaced two eyes provide relatively varying viewpoints. 

Thanks to how the human brain combines the streams of images coming in through two eyes, most people perceive the world with depth in three dimensions, not like a flat picture.

Uses of Binoculars

Uses of Binoculars

Binoculars gives you that spectacular 3D view as it amplifies the distant objects making you feel as if you could touch and reach them. No wonder bird watchers and love to use this over telescopes.

This unique quality of binoculars only works best at distances that its lenses can reach far. That means binoculars, in general, are not excellent for looking at a star so far away. However, astronomers mostly do with one image, and it’s much cheaper and simpler to control one telescope instead of two.

Binoculars are just two telescopes attached. Things are still visible with your eyes, but in vastly more detail with this optical instrument. Your eyesight and the field of view become more transparent and have been powered up rather than replaced.

Meanwhile, compared to binoculars, telescopes are not primarily suitable for beginners. Usually, first-timers looking through an astronomical telescope are baffled by their astronomer friend’s enthusiastic chatter. Why? Because looking at the vast Universe with just one eye is not easy and very tricky.

Plus, the view at high magnification is totally strange: no landmarks, no sense of scale or proportion, and only a tiny piece of the sky are visible that you don’t know where precisely it is, and the view is often flipped upside down and backward.

Do Astronomers Use Binoculars?

telescope on a mount

Both binoculars and telescopes rely on the same optical principles to do the job, and telescopes are not inherently better at looking into space than binoculars. Yes, astronomers’ telescopes, with their gigantic lenses and sturdy support systems, are more potent than binoculars you can carry. But it just boils down to size.

Astronomers have been trying to use binoculars to investigate space for a long time, but they just failed. The real game-changer is thru merging the images from two individual telescopes as space scientists and researchers need perfect images from each, with computers correcting for turbulence about 1,000 times a second. The brains are just so good at automatically combining and analyzing the information from two eyes that technology hasn’t caught up yet.

However, recent technological advancement led to discovering a new Large Binocular Telescope from an observatory that opened in Arizona—using a pair of identical 8.2-meter diameter telescopes – about the largest mirrors that can be made – on a single mount. 

The Large Binocular Telescope will act much like your eyes and brain to create incredibly sharp images of too faint objects.


You may have heard that Galileo Galilei was the inventor of the telescope. He did, but he wasn’t the first to do so. In truth, a Dutchman called Hans Lippershey was the first to apply for a patent for a telescope in 1608. 

On the other hand, Lippershey was denied because it was claimed that he had stolen the design (or portions of it) from another local eyeglass maker, Zacharias Jansen.

Jacob Metius, another Dutchman, was the next significant participant to enter the telescope patent battlefield. This happened only a few minutes after Lippershey applied the product. However, due to counterclaims, his claim was also dismissed. 

Galileo learned about the Dutch perspective glasses in 1609. And before long, he’d made his own. His model had a 20x magnification capability. He was officially recognized as the creator of the telescope after introducing his invention to the Venetian Senate.

When Should You Use a Telescope?

Although binoculars appear to be the more practical option, telescopes have their niche in which binoculars cannot compete.


Telescopes were created to examine the heavens. When viewing astronomical things such as planets, stars, nebulas, and so on, they’ll provide you with the best depth and quality. Even though the Earth is continuously rotating and relocating your target, the rotation is gradual and regular enough that you may fine-tune your telescope for the best results.


Many telescopes are now designed specifically for photography. You’ll receive excellent image steadiness because they’re mounted on tripods. Long exposure photography is also a breeze with telescopes.

Binocular or Telescope: Which is Better to Use?

To decide which tool to use, you need to identify the nature of the job at hand. It’s the primary reason that dictates whether you should use a telescope or binoculars. 

For astronomers, their primary goals revolve around gathering as much light as possible from faint things like galaxies and creating very sharp images. Hence, they find planets around a distant star and other similar activities.

If astronomy and photography are your main concerns, a telescope may be the way to go. Amateur photographers and astronomers will find affordable solutions, while pros will find a plethora of premium options.

However, if you’re searching for something more practical for regular use, a nice set of binoculars should suffice. Unless you have a particular demand for one, you’ll find telescopes cumbersome, expensive, and rarely utilized.