Best Spotting Scope For Astronomy [2020 Buyer’s Guide]

There’s a lot of things to unfold when talking about spotting scopes. It’s a bit different when we’re talking about the best spotting scope for astronomy due to the fact, spotting scopes weren’t designed for astronomical uses. But, due to demand, we’re going to dive into this topic anyways.

Below is a quick chart for our picks for the top spotting scopes for astronomy.

Disclosure: Sooke Outdoors, as an Amazon Associate, earns commissions on qualified purchases. This informative review article may contain affiliate links. Commission and earnings support our work. This means we may receive a commission if you purchase items from links embedded in the articles.

Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope – Fully Multi-Coated Optics – Hunting Gear – ED Objective Lens for Bird...
Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag - BAK4 Angled Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird...
Celestron – Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope – 22 to 66x100mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching,...
Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope – Fully Multi-Coated Optics – Hunting Gear – ED Objective Lens for Bird...
Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag - BAK4 Angled Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird...
Celestron – Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope – 22 to 66x100mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching,...
$790.18
Price not available
$165.90
$398.10
-
149 Reviews
231 Reviews
247 Reviews
293 Reviews
Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope – Fully Multi-Coated Optics – Hunting Gear – ED Objective Lens for Bird...
Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope – Fully Multi-Coated Optics – Hunting Gear – ED Objective Lens for Bird...
$790.18
149 Reviews
Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
Price not available
-
231 Reviews
Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag - BAK4 Angled Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird...
Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag - BAK4 Angled Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird...
$165.90
247 Reviews
Celestron – Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope – 22 to 66x100mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching,...
Celestron – Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope – 22 to 66x100mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching,...
$398.10
293 Reviews

Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope

Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope
Click here for information about the Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope

The Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope is an amazing spotting scope for astronomy. It has a pretty accurate color reproduction and increased resolution and contrasts embedded in the scope. What makes this scope stand out is the strong magnesium alloy body and the lightness of it. It’s easy to carry around if you’re traveling and sturdy.

Sale
Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope – Fully Multi-Coated Optics – Hunting Gear – ED Objective Lens for Bird...
149 Reviews

Plus, it has a fully multi-coated optics lens which is top-tier. So, you’re getting the best of the best from an optics standpoint. The eyepiece has a zoom of 22-67x. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, the Regal M2 is made to perform. It’s optimized to provide the sharpest image available, any time, anywhere.

It’s an all-around great spotting scope for birding and astronomy. But on the astronomy side, it’s really good for casual astronomical observing.

Pros

  • It’s a big and bulky spotting scope. Personally, I like my scopes on the bulkier side.
  • Works very well for occasional astronomical use.
  • Works great at a 100-yard range
  • It has a nice stay-on case that fits perfectly over your shoulder.
  • The quality of the image is just out of this world. It has beautiful sharp optics.
  • Good quality zoom eyepiece.
  • The scoping scope fits perfectly on most tripods.

Cons

  • The eyepiece cover has a fine thread when unscrewed, is pretty loud.
  • The scope doesn’t really fit with the case. Not sure if it’s just the one I received but the scope doesn’t really fit the case.
  • It’s pretty expensive in comparison to the other recommendations on this list.

Verdict

The Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope is an excellent value for the money. Honestly, this spotting scope gives other more expensive spotting scopes a run for their money. It has crisp optics, too heavy, and it’s well packaged.

Astronomic uses, it provides excellent views of the moon. From my experience, I’ve used it at about x155 magnification and still got a pretty crisp image. The image quality is top-notch.

Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)

Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
Click here for information about the Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)

The Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope is the second runner up on the list. I find this spotting scope to be perfect for all types of situations. This includes birding, hunting, and yes, even astronomical viewing to an extent. I find the Celestron’s C90 Mak really ideal for the outdoors though.

Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
231 Reviews
Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting scope (Black)
  • Multi Coated Optics
  • Maksutov-Cassegrain Optical Design

The Celestron 52268 C90 Mak is easy to use and portable. If you don’t like the first recommendation, the Celestron is an excellent choice for both terrestrial and astronomical usage. It has excellent optics that produce razor-sharp images. The C90 has a wide range of 1.25” for even more magnification.

Pros

  • You can easily connect a DSLR camera with a T-ring with this scope.
  • Easy to use and good for beginners and experienced users.
  • It comes with its own backpack.
  • It’s packaged very well.
  • It’s small and has excellent optics and build quality.

Cons

  • It’s not weather-proof, water-proof, or fog-proof.

Verdict

It’s a pretty decent spotting scope if you’re not looking for the best. I don’t like the fact it’s not waterproof or fog proof. But, honestly, if you’re looking for an indoors spotting scope, this is a good candidate.

Other than the above, it’s a really good spotting scope for astronomy.

Gosky 2019 Updated 20-60×80 Spotting Scope 

Gosky 2019 Updated 20-60x80 Spotting Scope
Click here for information about the Gosky 2019 Updated 20-60×80 Spotting Scope

The Gosky updated 20-60×80 is a great option for astronomical observations. You’ll be able to see the moon crater and other planets. For the cost, it’s inexpensive and has great optics which make it a great partner for most astronomy enthusiasts. The updated version of this scope has a more powerful magnification, optical performance, and stable focusing system than it’s the first version.

Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag - BAK4 Angled Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird...
247 Reviews

I’d say this scope is extremely durable and shock-proof with its rubber armor. It has a variable 20-60x zoom magnification and perfect dynamic focusing system. I found the scope easy to zoom in on the moon in detail. Furthermore, the 80mm objective lens provides a high-resolution image and a good field of view. Plus, the shade protector helps reduce unwanted glare.

Pros

  • The quality of the image is amazing even though the price doesn’t reflect that.
  • The spotting scope very sturdy and durable.
  • It has a very smooth focus knob.

Cons

  • Works best during certain weather conditions.
  • The original tripod the Gosky comes is only good for tabletop use.

Verdict

I found the zoom adjustment to be a bit of a pain but wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. It does affect you in the way of you losing the object in view but not by much. Ultimately, the Gosky spotting scope has the great image quality and the zoom is really, really good at 60x.

Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope
Click here for information about the Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

The Celestron Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope is a versatile angled spotting scope with a decently-sized 100mm objective lens. I found the scope to be perfect long-distance viewing, birding, observational astronomy, and hunting. Every lens on this baby is completely multiple coated with anti-reflective coatings. I found this improved color depth and contrast.  

Sale
Celestron – Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope – 22 to 66x100mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching,...
293 Reviews

The spotting scope comes with a couple of accessories like a tripod mounting plate, zoom eyepiece with a T-adapter (for digiscoping), and carrying case. A cool thing you should know about this scope is it comes with a two-year warranty and unlimited access to technical support. All based in the US (no Indian or Philippine call centers).

Pros

  • Has a pretty sharp image at full zoom.
  • The Celestron spotting scope comes well packaged.
  • The scope is waterproof and has a BAK4 prism.
  • The magnification ring on the spotting spot is smooth and crisp.

Cons

  • I didn’t like the fact there’s sunshade on the objective lens.
  • No padding within the carry case.
  • It’s a pretty top/forward weighted scope.

Verdict

Honestly, I’d say this is the second-best scope for astronomy. If you’re looking for a less expensive option than my first pick, get this spotting scope. Celestron is an amazing company. I have really nothing by praise to offer with their scopes and customer support.

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What is Astronomy?

Many people have an incorrect definition of what Astronomy is. Astronomy is the study of the planets, cosmos, and space. This includes gas, dust, comets along with other things. If you’re looking for a simpler definition, NASA defines astronomy as, “the study of stars, planets, and space.”

Years ago, scientists classified astronomy and astrology in the same class. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case due to astrology not being an official science. Astronomy and astrology are no longer associated with each other in the science community.

If you’re a person whos’ interested in Astronomy, continue reading. In this article, we’re going to list the best spotting scope for astronomy. We’ll discuss anything you need to know.

Disclosure: Sooke Outdoors, as an Amazon Associate, earns commissions on qualified purchases. This informative review article may contain affiliate links. Commission and earnings support our work. This means we may receive a commission if you purchase items from links embedded in the articles.

What is a Spotting Scope?

To put it simply, a spotting scope is a small telescope. The difference between a telescope and spotting scope is a spotting scope is designed for day use. They’re used for hunting, birding, scenery watch, and target shooting.

There are other factors that make spotting scopes different from telescopes. Firstly, spotting scopes produce upright images and telescopes for astronomy produce reversed (and upside down) images. Secondly, spotting scopes are smaller and designed for portability. Thirdly, a spotting scope has a far lower magnification level than a normal telescope. Furthermore, spotting scopes can be mounted on camera tripods. Telescopes, on the other hand, require specific mounts.

I thought we’d include that most, if not all, spotting scopes are waterproof, shock-proof and fog-proof. This is mainly due to the fact spotting scopes are designed for more “physical” activities such as hunting, birding, target shooting, and many other things. Personally, I have yet to see an astronomy-based telescope that has these features. We’re not saying it’s possible, but it’s rare.

Here’s a list of activities spotting scopes is used for:

  • Birding
  • Surveillance
  • Archey
  • Target Shooting
  • Hunting
  • Viewing Landscapes
  • Some Astronomy
  • Long-distance Photography

People who are looking for extra magnification go for a spotting scope. Binoculars do not have the magnification power of a spotting scope.

With spotting scopes, there are three numbers you should pay attention to. The first two numbers represent the range of magnification. The last number represents the size of the front lens. For example, Gosky HD Porro Prism Spotting Scope (15-45×60), This means this spotting scope has a zoom magnification range of 15-45x and the front lens has a diameter of 60mm.

Magnification

The magnification of a spotting scope is what separates it from binoculars. The higher magnification of a spotting scope, the better. There are two things you should keep in mind when it comes to a spotting scope’s magnification.

You always should keep in mind the atmosphere you’re in. Are you going to be in a hot condition with heatwaves? Dusty desert? Snow? Basically, many weather factors that can affect the scenery. These weather conditions affect the quality of your image. Not only that but with greater magnification, the worst your image quality gets.

Dry high altitudes climates thrive with high magnification levels. Low wet, humid low-altitude climates fail with high magnification levels. Always remember this. It’s very rare for a location that requires more than 60-80x during the day. If you have a spotting scope that maxes out at 60-80x should be fine.

The optical system within a scope is the second major limit. No matter the model or brand, image quality goes down as the magnification goes up. Period. This is the fault of the optical system in place.

Objective Lens

The bigger the objective lens, the better the image quality. You’ll see more details, clarity and color depth. But, bigger doesn’t always mean better. A big cheap lens, no matter how big, will never be as good a small higher-end lens. Like all things, never just buy off size but the quality of the product.

The performance of all spotting scopes can be improved with special quality glass (HD glass, ED glass, APO glass, Fluorite glass) in the objective lens. Obviously, there will be an additional cost but it’s possible.

Straight vs Angled

Most manufacturers create two spotting scope styles which is straight and angled. If you want to know which is better for you, continue reading. There are a few things to consider when you’re talking about angled and straight spotting scopes. If you generally go scoping solo and use a tall tripod, you may want to use straight spotting scopes. Plus, straight spotting scopes are great for a downwards view.

If you’re looking for a scoping scope for multiple people, an angled is the way to go. Especially if the size of the people are different heights. In my opinion, an angled eyepiece works better for an upward view.

Eye Relief

This is important for all buyers to remember. Eye Relief is the distance your eye can be from the actual eyepiece on a spotting scope. This important is important for users who wear glasses. Due to the fact they can’t immerse their eye in the eyepiece like non-glass-wearing users.

We recommend users with eyeglasses to get a spotting scope with at least 14mm of eye relief. If you have very thick glasses, you’ll need to get a spotting scope with bigger eye relief.

Lens Coatings

When you’re buying a spotting scope please pay attention to lens coating. The lens coating basically improves light transmission within the spotting scope. Why is this important? It’s important because it increases the quality and performance of the spotting scope.

There are 3 types of coatings you’ll find on the market. First one is the “fully coated”, the second is the “multi-coated”, and lastly, is the “fully multi-coated”. All truly high-end spotting scopes will be “fully multi-coated. All manufacturers use different methods and chemicals for their coatings.

Image Quality

“You get what you pay for..” is what it is in the spotting scope world. Obviously, this is a universal saying but it’s absolutely true with spotting scopes. There’s always a large gap in performance and price. This applies to low-quality recreational scopes and high-grade scopes for serious hobbyists.

We don’t want to scare you away from spotting scopes or anything. For many users, you can get by with low to medium-priced spotting scopes. But, don’t expect super great quality performance or images.

Cheaper vs. Expensive: Spotting Scopes

There’s a big difference between inexpensive and expensive spotting scopes. With “cheaper” spotting scopes, the image quality gets lost faster as magnification goes up. This doesn’t matter if it’s big or small or the type of scoping scope it is. Cheaper spotting scopes lose image quality faster than expensive scopes.

With higher-end spotting scopes, you lose very little image quality during heighten magnification. Image quality is still lost but by a small margin. But, you have to remember, with higher-end spotting scopes, you will be paying a lot more.

If you’re an avid enthusiast, invest in a high-quality spotting scope. If not, go with a cheaper option. Most observing activities such as birding, hunting, and target shooting are done at low magnification levels. This is about 30x-40x on a magnification scale.

Can You Use a Spotting Scope for Astronomy?

Yes, but to an extent. If you’re getting a spotting scope mainly for astronomy, get a telescope. If you’re looking for a spotting scope for flexible uses like birding, hunting, and the occasional astronomy, that’s a different story.

Remember: the larger the aperture on your scope, the more light you can capture. This is crucial at night if you’re using it for astronomy. An objective lens of at least 65-70mm is required for basic astronomical uses. You need to also remember using a spotting scope at nighttime pushes the capabilities to its limits.

If you plan on getting a spotting scope for astronomy, it’s preferred you get a high-end model. Get a scope higher quality optics, fully multi-coating, and a high-quality ED glass.

So, can a spotting scope be used for astronomy? Yes, it can but there are other scopes (telescopes) that are better for astronomy. If you want to learn how our recommendations for spotting scopes for astronomy continue reading.

Conclusion

So, are spotting scopes good for astronomy? Absolutely. Spotting scopes can be used for astronomy but they aren’t the most qualified for the task. If you’re an avid hunter, wildlife observer, and/or target shooter but need a device for both astronomy, then the above recommendations should be strongly considered.

In my opinion, hands down the Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope is the best spotting scope for astronomical uses. But, even though it’s my top recommendation, I still recommend getting a telescope if that’s your main driver here. My second recommendation would be the Celestron Ultima 100 Angled Spotting Scope if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section.

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