I think to buy cheap 10x50 binoculars for astronomy observations. My leaving area is light polluted, I can see only bright stars and planets in naked eye. Will I can with this binoculars observe Saturn rings, Jupiter moons, Uranus and Neptune planets? What deep space objects I can observe with this binoculars in light polluted area?

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe get a hint by looking at Bortle scale and seeing how your viewing location might fall on that scale. This is rough, of course, but gives you a start. $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    Jun 28 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for answer, my location Bortle scale is 7, it seems I can see only limited objects. $\endgroup$
    – suburbicon
    Jun 28 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ For Saturn's rings, you'd need at least a pair of 25x70 binocs: rings would appear as two bulges on the sides on the planet. With bigger lenses (20x80, 25x100) they would get clearer, but those binocs are too bulky to be used comfortably without a tripod -- and, if you're carrying a tripod anyways, you may as well carry a full telescope! $\endgroup$
    – walen
    Jun 29 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @walen with decent skies and old eyeballs you really do not need such crazy-big binoculars to resolve the rings. You can't see much but you can certainly be convinced they are there. I don't have particularly good eyesight but I can assure you that in my 8x42 binoculars (only 8x magnification, 42 mm aperture) I can resolve all four Galilean moons of Jupiter (if they're far enough away) and the two little bumps on the side of Saturn where its rings extend. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 29 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh "with decent skies" → Yeah, that's the issue. OP said they are in a heavily light-polluted location, Bortle 7. My comment comes from using my 10x50 binocs and my uncle's 12-25x80 binocs in a Bortle 7-8 sky after sunset (dark enough to see the planets but barely any stars): first with 10x50, Saturn looked just like Venus; then with 25x80, I clearly saw there's something surrounding the planet. THEN with 10x50 again, yeah, I could "sense" something on the sides —but was I actually seeing it? Or was it just my brain "filling up the gaps" based on what it had just seen through the 25x80? $\endgroup$
    – walen
    Jun 30 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


This is totally anecdotal, but based on my own observations with a pair of 10x50 binoculars on a light-polluted suburban street in South East England...

  • Rings of Saturn: No
  • Moons of Jupiter: Yes, all four main moons are easy to see (assuming they're not behind the planet at the time obviously!)
  • Uranus and Neptune: No
  • Deep sky objects: I have managed to observe the Andromeda galaxy as a very faint smudge, but that's about it.

Exciting things that I have been able to see include:

  • Open star clusters, especially the Pleiades and the Praesepe (beehive) cluster. These are underwhelming or invisible to the naked eye, but I find them quite beautiful through the binoculars.
  • Double stars e.g. Epsilon Lyrae.
  • The moon, in much more detail than is possible with the naked eye.

This sounds rather negative, but I still think it's been well worth getting the binoculars. They're a great next step from naked eye observing, since they're easy to 'point and shoot' - no setup required like there is with a telescope. Plus they're easy to take with you if you're going somewhere with dark skies.

Ultimately if you really want to see those rings of Saturn, you're probably going to need a telescope. Perhaps there is an astronomy club nearby where you can try some out?

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for answer, it exactly what I am expected. $\endgroup$
    – suburbicon
    Jun 28 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ No problem, hope I haven't put you off! If you are thinking about buying binoculars for astronomy, I would definitely have a look at Steve Tonkin's binocular sky site $\endgroup$
    – JayFor
    Jun 28 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Very good answer. One might also suggest to now-and-then arrange a little trip "out to the country", rather than feeling necessarily trapped in the light pollution in the city. As a kid, I was stunned by the Milky Way and ... everything... on my grandparents' farm in very-rural southern Indiana in the U.S., c. 1960. Saying light pollution is "not so bad", as near Fort Wayne, Indiana, c. 1960, wildly understates the difference between that and "none". :) $\endgroup$ Jun 28 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ Even a trip to the country won't resolve Saturn's rings with 10x50 binoculars. $\endgroup$
    – Beanluc
    Jun 29 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Are globular clusters not considered DSOs? Also, Orion's nebula will be seen as a proper nebula instead of as a smudged star. Oh, and the Pleiades will look gorgeous! $\endgroup$
    – walen
    Jun 29 at 8:58

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