All astronomy enthusiasts want to rush off and get their first telescope, but binoculars are a better option for young stargazers in many ways. The right pair of binoculars for your child provides you with convenience, very little fuss, and an excellent budget. This guide covers everything from the advantages over telescopes to how to use binoculars, as well as supplementary reviews to help you choose the best binoculars for kids.
Top 3 Best Kids Binoculars
|APEMAN Folding High Powered Binoculars||8 oz||12 x 25||$$||4.9 Stars|
|TOP Gift Compact Shockproof Binoculars||5.3 oz||8 x 21||$||4.5 Stars|
|Aurosports High Powered Binoculars||8.8 oz||10 x 25||$$||4.6 Stars|
Binoculars vs. Telescope
- Less Fuss: Telescopes are powerful instruments, and that comes at a price. They are big and can be cumbersome to transport. They also require a proper space for storage. Setting up a telescope takes time and practice, even for a novice adult, let alone a child. Binoculars offer all the opposites as advantages. They are small, compact instruments which are easily stored and conveniently portable. They do not require any accessories such as a set of eyepieces and a mount. And the best part is that they are fuss-free – a positive for your child and for you.
- Power: The larger a lens or mirror, the more light is gathered. Telescopes come in a variety of apertures from small telescopes of 2 inches, to large powerful devices of 20 inches. Some binoculars are also relatively large, but then their convenience is lost as they become tedious to use for extended periods and require a tripod. However, a small pair of binoculars can beat out a small telescope. Take a 50mm telescope compared to a 50 mm binoculars: the telescope has one 50mm objective lens/mirror, while the binoculars are essentially two 50mm objective lenses side by side. A small pair of quality binoculars is ideal for viewing countless many stars, nebulae, and clusters – all your child needs.
- Rich Wide Views: The more an object is magnified, the more clarity and detail is lost in the image. Higher magnification also means a smaller field of view, which is the area of sky that ‘fits’ into your instrument. Binoculars generally have a low magnification, offering contrasted and rich images and a greater field of view.
- Simple to Use: Telescopes do not come fully assembled and ready to use. If you have a reflector, the mirrors need to be collimated first to be in focus. A telescope with an equatorial/ GO-TO mount needs to be polar aligned to track the skies correctly. You also need the correct eyepieces before you put everything together. Though these things may seem daunting, amateur astronomers with no background in science learn all these skills in no time – and your child will too when they get their first telescope. On the other hand, a pair of binoculars is so well-suited to children because they require no set-up, and only need one or two tweaks to adjust focus.
- Kind on Your Pockets: Astronomy remains a life-long passion for all amateurs, young and old. However, it is normal for kids to move from one interest to the next. Binoculars save you from spending hundreds of dollars on a telescope that may be neglected. They are a wonderful tool for sweeping the night skies and often cost no more than around $30 for a quality pair.
Picking the Perfect Pair
Getting binoculars suitable for your child is simple when you keep these tips in mind:
- Light Weight and Comfortable: Opt for a pair that is small and light enough for your child to hold above them without growing fatigued or feeling discomfort. Bulkier pairs will not be as easy to steady – turning the stars into shaky blurs. The binoculars should be made with solid, non-slip material and fit comfortably into your child’s hands.
- Easy on the Eyes: The correct eye fit is essential. Some binoculars may be too wide, not folding in far enough to cover your child’s eyes properly. Consider a pair of binoculars with a narrow inter-pupillary distance suitable for smaller faces. The eyepiece areas should also be cushioned with a rubbery exterior that protects the eyes. Your child requires a pair with longer eye relief (14 mm +) if s/he wears glasses. This is the distance from the lenses to the eyes. It is a measure of how far away you can move your eyes from the lenses while still maintaining a full field of view.
- Aperture and Magnification: The aperture should not be too large, otherwise the binoculars are heavy and require a tripod. Apertures of 40mm + are best for astronomy, but small apertures of 20 – 50 mm can still show great views of bright objects. A magnification of 7x – 10x is also more than enough for the first pair of kids’ binoculars.
- Kid-Proof: Even responsible, cautious children are bound to bump or accidentally drop a pair of… well anything, including – binoculars. Kid-proof binoculars are made from durable materials which are shockproof and water resistant. They must be made with quality lenses which will not become displaced with bumps and falls. Of course, the binoculars must also be safe for your child to use, with no hard protrusions. A protective material should surround the pieces for both comfort and safety.
- No Toys Allowed: Do not be lured into buying toy binoculars. Quality binoculars marketed specifically to children are sometimes dubbed ‘toys’, so it is easy to accidentally purchase one of the real gimmicks. Unfortunately, these offer no functionality. Rather choose a pair of genuine binoculars which meet the above specifications, even if they were not designed with children particularly in mind. The optics should be reliable, free of noticeable defects, and coated for a proper finish.
- Introducing your child to the night sky without the use of optical aids has great benefits. It is far more natural and easy to learn to navigate the stars with the naked eye. Teach children to recognize the constellations, bright stars, and planets by name. Show your child how the sky changes from one night to another. Using binoculars will be far simpler with this foundation in place.
- Have your child fully open/ unfold the binoculars so that the eyepieces are at their greatest distance from one another. S/he should then slowly fold in the binoculars, bridging the gap between the eyepieces until they fit perfectly over your child’s eyes. The two circles of the separate eyepieces will start to meld into one circle. Tell your child to let you know the moment the two circles become one.
- Pick a nice bright, big target to start practicing on. The Moon is ideal. Let your kid focus on the Moon with their unaided eyes and then slowly draw the binoculars up towards their eyes without looking away from the subject. The subject should be in the binoculars’ field of view.
- It is likely that the target is out of focus. Show your child where and how to adjust the focus. Your child should keep viewing the subject through the binoculars while adjusting the focus.
- Keep in mind that this can take practice and patience to get right, especially with younger kids. Encourage them and let them explore the night sky regardless of whether the binoculars are in focus or not. They will get the hang of it.
- Safety is of the utmost importance. Caution your child to never walk while looking through the binoculars. It might be tempting for children to do this but is potentially dangerous.
With their low magnification and wide field of view, binoculars are the choice instrument for large open clusters, the phases of the Moon, streaking comets and the rich Milky Way. These targets are popular as they are big and bright, making them effortless to locate and perfect for children learning to use binoculars.
- Moon: The Moon is an ideal subject for a child new to binoculars. The conspicuous body is easy to focus on and interesting to watch as it goes through its changing phases. The best time to view the Moon is from its first quarter right through to before it is full. This may seem counterintuitive, but the full Moon is incredibly luminous, bright enough that it is not comfortable to view for long periods of time. The Sun’s light also washes the Moon out making it look one dimensional.
The Moon is perfectly positioned in the days leading up to Full Moon, hanging low in the sky so that your child does not have to strain. The contrast between the lit and dark sides makes the Moon’s mountains, valleys and craters pop out. Observing along the terminator – the dividing line between the light and dark – shows the most prominent contrast.
- Pleiades: The Pleiades (M45) is a well-known and stunning open cluster 500 light years away. It is located in the constellation Taurus the Bull. The constellation is just as bright and recognizable as its asterism, making the Pleiades very simple to find. The cluster looks like a tiny dipper or ‘W’-shaped collection of stars. People see more or less than 7 stars depending on their eyesight and their skill stargazing. It makes a fun personal challenge for you and your child to test who sees the most stars. The cluster is big enough that you will not be able to view all of it even with the wide field of view that binoculars offer. Binoculars of 30mm reveal a spectacle of up to 70 stars on a good dark night, though the average is around 30 – 40 stars.
- Hyades: Why not sweep across to the Hyades while exploring in Taurus? This hugely dispersed open cluster is the V-shaped asterism which makes up the bull’s face. The cluster is very big, and will not all fit in the field of view. There are 15 stars above magnitude 5 which are visible to the naked eye. You can see over 100 of the cluster’s stars using a pair of binoculars on a steady, dark night. The brightest star in Taurus is the orange giant star Aldebaran. The star is the red eye of the bull and surely looks like it is part of the Hyades, but is actually separate from the cluster.
- Milky Way: The Milky Way is not exactly a specific target, but an array of beautiful subjects for your child to explore within this wispy band of stars. We are situated on one of the arms of our spiral galaxy some 25 000 light years away from its center. We view the Milky Way as a cloud of a myriad of unresolved stars lying toward the center of the galaxy. Binoculars reveal hundreds of stars and nebula along the entire band. It is a wonderfully rich region for children to observe. Viewing the Milky Way is best paired with an adventure away from city lights.
- Comets: Bright comets are a rare occurrence, so take full advantage of the opportunity to view one. These icy clumps of rock and gas heat up as they approach the Sun. The frozen gases are set free and produce nuclei and tails that span millions of kilometers. Their enormous size means they are best to view with the naked eye, and of course binoculars!
Best Binoculars for Kids Reviews
Browse these reviews on the best binoculars for kids to make your purchasing experience quick and simple.
APEMAN 12 x 25 Folding High Powered Binoculars
The best feature of APEMAN’s 12 x 25mm pair of binoculars is the dual focus and fully adjustable eye width – perfectly versatile for both you and your child. The binoculars are 12 x 25mm and 6.5° FOV. The fully multi-coated lenses provide clear views of the skies for a very affordable price. These highly rated binoculars are lightweight, and the rubber armor anti-slip design makes it a kid-proof pair worth considering.
TOP Gift Compact Shockproof Binoculars for Kids
The TOP Gift compact binoculars are ergonomically designed for the comfort and safety of children. They fit snuggly in most children’s hands, and the non-slip grip protects the instrument from accidental drops. Mistakes happen anyway, but this is a durable pair of shockproof binoculars that can withstand most bumps and falls. The eyepieces are protected with a soft rubber that adds comfort and safety for your child. The 8 x 21 mm specs and 7.2-degree field of view offer clear peeks of the sky. A great set for children under 10.
Aurosports 10 x 25 High Powered Binoculars
This versatile pair of binoculars is suitable for both adults and kids, making it a choice pair for a shared night of fun out stargazing. They come with an anti-slip grip, and with the convenient strap in place, you can be sure they are safe from falls when the young ones use them. These compact binoculars are light enough for a child handle securely. They are a popular pair, and incredibly low priced for the 10 x 25 mm specs and 6.9° field of view offered.
Aurosports Kids’ Binoculars w/ Auto Focus
The Aurosports kids’ binoculars have a fun and vibrant design that children will absolutely adore. They are made from eco-friendly materials as an important added bonus. These were created with protection and safety in mind, providing a sturdy shockproof build and ergonomic grip. A handy highlight is the binoculars fixed autofocus. This is great for younger kids who may have trouble adjusting focus on their own. The pair is 7 x 22 mm, small and lightweight.
PuffinScout Kids Binoculars 8 x 21 Set
PuffinScout have geared their binoculars toward getting more girls involved in outdoor activities. The binoculars have a bright and pretty design daughters will adore. They are also beautifully packaged. The 8 x 21mm set is made with good, coated optics, and are surprisingly affordable for the quality. They are lightweight, durable, easy to adjust, shockproof and comfortable to hold.
Kidwinz Shockproof 8 x 21 Kids’ Binoculars
The Kidwinz children’s binoculars are super durable and safe. They are made with extra cushioning around the delicate eyepiece region, keeping the lenses safe from shocks, and most importantly adding a level safety and comfort for your child’s facial region. The 8 x 21 mm pair is made with fully coated lenses, has a good 7.1° field of view, and are easy to focus.
Cobiz 10 x 25 Outdoor Binoculars for Kids
Made with an ergonomic design tailored to children, these light weight and adorable binoculars make a good gift for outdoorsy kids. The Cobiz binoculars have great specs; 10 x 25 mm and quality, anti-reflective coated lenses. These well-constructed binoculars have the eyepieces placed at a distance most suitable for children under 10. They are a favorite among parents and children.
SkyGenius 8 x 21 Kids’ Binoculars
SkyGenius brings you a pair of binoculars that are easy to focus – perfect for beginners – and offer clear views of the night sky. The rubber grip and extra rubber coating around the eyepieces are customized for safety. SkyGenius make their binoculars with eco-friendly materials perfect for the environmentally-conscious family. The 8 x 21 mm offer a 6-degree field of view, and while they are wonderfully inexpensive, the quality is good and solid.