What is a moon halo?

The moon’s halo or lunar halo is an optical illusion that causes a large bright ring to surround the moon. This striking and often beautiful halo around the moon is caused by the refraction of moonlight from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. 

In effect, these suspended or falling flecks of ice mean the atmosphere is transformed into a giant lens causing arcs and halos to appear around the moon or the sun depending on whether the effect is happening during the night or day respectively. 

The effect is so striking that it has given rise to a wealth of folklore and superstition, and was used not entirely unsuccessfully used to predict the onset of bad weather.

Related: 15 stunning places on Earth that look like they’re from another planet

What is a moon halo and how does it form?

A lunar halo is created when light is refracted, reflected, and dispersed through ice crystals suspended in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds located at an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) and higher, up to 40,000 feet (12,000 meters). 

The shape of these ice crystals focuses light into a halo around the moon or the sun. As ice crystals are usually hexagonal these lunar halos are almost always the same size, with the moon (or the sun) sitting 22 degrees from the other edge of the halo — roughly the width of an outstretched hand at arm’s length. 

The uniform 22-degree radius and 44-degree diameter of halos mean that both solar and lunar halos are often referred to as 22-degree halos.

This uniformity in diameter arises because ice has a specific index of reflection and the hexagonal shape of an ice crystal means when its sides are extended it forms a prism with a 60 -degree apex angle. This results in an angle of minimum deviation for light passing through the ice crystal of 21.84 degrees.

These ice crystals also demonstrate a prism effect that separates white light from the sun or is reflected by the moon into various individual colors just like the atmospheric effect that creates a rainbow.

The radius of a moon halo is roughly the length of an outstretched hand at arm’s length.  (Image credit: ClickAndPray Photography via Getty Images)

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This happens because different wavelengths of light, thus different colors, experience a different degree of refraction when they pass through a prism.

This means that lunar halos can be very lightly tinted with rainbow colors, longwave red light on the inside, and shortwave blue light on the outside. Colors in the lunar halo are often too weak to be seen with the naked eye and may be much more visible around the sun because of how much brighter it is than the moon.

The optical properties of the ice crystals also mean that they don’t direct light back toward the center of a halo. This means that the sky inside a 22-degree halo can often appear darker than the surrounding sky making it appear like a “hole in the sky.”

Do lunar halos have company?

Lunar halos are often accompanied by smaller more colorful rings that are caused by refraction and reflection of light by water molecules in the atmosphere called coronas. Lunar halos aren’t connected to coronas, which are around half as wide as halos with a radius of around 10 degrees, as these optical effects are caused by water droplets rather than ice crystals.

In addition to this, refraction from ice crystals can also create double halos. On rare occasions, these double halos even possess spokes radiating out to their outer edges. 

Not only are lunar halos closely related to solar halos, but this icy refractive effect can also create rings opposite these astronomical bodies, or pillars of light, and even “sun dogs”  —  concentrated patches of sunlight seen 22 degrees to the left or right of the sun that can appear in pairs. 

Moon halos are closely related to “sun dogs”, a solar phenomenon where pillars of light appear on either side of the sun.  (Image credit: karinegenest via Getty Images)

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Halos with a radius of 22 degrees can also be accompanied by 46-degree radius halos, which can also occur independently too. Larger and much fainter than 22-degree halos, 46-degree halos form when sunlight enters randomly oriented hexagonal ice crystal at its face and exits through its base.

This causes light to be dispersed at a wider angle  —  one greater than the angle of minimum deviation  —  creating a halo with a more blurry and diffuse outer edge. 

On its science site, NASA documents (opens in new tab) a rare incidence of a quadruple lunar halo. The four halos around the moon were sighted on a winter night above Madrid, Spain, in 2012. Falling hexagonal ice crystals created a 22-degree halo, while column ice crystals created a rarer circumscribed halo. More distant ice crystals created a third rainbow-like arc 46⁰ from the moon. Finally, part of a fourth whole 46-degree circular halo was also visible completing the quadruple lunar halo that NASA described as “extremely rare, especially for the moon.”

Related: Red lightning: The electrifying weather phenomenon explained

How common are moon halos: When and where to see them

Moon halo photographed over the Lyngen Alps, Norway. (Image credit: Posnov via Getty Images)

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Farmers’ Almanac (opens in new tab) describes lunar halos as being fairly common, meaning there is a good chance of spotting one, as long as you are willing to brave cold and possibly wet weather. That’s because though lunar halos can happen at any time of year, they are more common in winter. 

A moon halo can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you’re looking for a telescope or binoculars to observe the moon in more detail, our guides for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now can help. Our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography can also help you prepare to capture an impressive lunar photo. 

Related: Ultimate guide to observing the moon

Because cirrus clouds are the usual suspects behind lunar halos, this optical illusion is more likely to be visible when a bright full or nearly full moon is veiled by thin cirrus clouds. This means unlike hunting other astronomical events and objects, cloudy conditions can actually be a bonus when it comes to spotting lunar halos. 

The cirrus clouds are transparent and cover wide areas of the sky  —  up to thousands of miles  —  producing a host of other halo effects like white or colored rings, spots, or arcs of light in addition to solar and lunar halos. 

These clouds can be so thin and finely dispersed that sometimes lunar and solar halos are the only way of knowing they are actually present in the sky. 

Myths and cultural significance of moon halos

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, in folklore, the observation of a lunar halo has been associated with forthcoming unsettled weather, especially during winter.

This is something that has often been proven true thanks to the phenomena behind these halos. This is because cirrus clouds sometimes indicate an approaching warm front which is, in turn, associated with a low-pressure system, a storm that can carry with it a sudden drop in temperature, heavy rain, hail, and even thunder and lightning.

Because cirrus clouds often signal rain falling within the next 24 hours the atmospheric optical illusions they cause became embedded in “weather lore” becoming an early method of empirically predicting the weather before the development of metrology. 

One striking and poetic example of this folklore is a proverb listed in the book Dictionary of Proverbs by George Latimer Apperson (opens in new tab).

“If the moon show a silver shield,

Be not afraid to reap your field;

But if she rises haloed round,

Soon we’ll tread on deluged ground.”

This system isn’t particularly reliable when predicting bad weather as cirrus clouds aren’t always a sign of an approaching warm front. 

Another folklore idea surrounding lunar halos is also worth being skeptical of is that by counting the stars encircled by the halo a person could tell how many days until the bad weather moved in. 

More stars meant more time until the rain set in, and fewer stars signified that bad weather wasn’t far from descending. 

Additional Reading

Ice crystals aren’t the only objects that can bend light and create stunning optical illusions. Astronomical bodies much further afield than the moon like distant galaxies can be blurred, stretched, magnified, and even caused to appear at multiple points in the sky when objects of tremendous mass warp the very fabric of spacetime between them and Earth. The European Space Agency (ESA) explains (opens in new tab) the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. 


Ring Around The Moon? Here’s What It Means, Farmers’ Alamac, [Accessed 11/19/22], [https://www.farmersalmanac.com/ring-around-the-moon-9657 (opens in new tab)]

22° Halo around the moon, Atmospheric Optics, [Accessed 11/19/22], [https://atoptics.co.uk/halo/circmoon.htm (opens in new tab)]

Moon Halo, Hyperphysics, [Accessed 11/19/22], [http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/atmos/moonhalo.html (opens in new tab)]

Quadruple Lunar Halo Over Winter Road, NASA Science, [Accessed 11/19/22],[https://science.nasa.gov/quadruple-lunar-halo-over-winter-road (opens in new tab)]

“Disk with a hole” in the sky, Atmospheric Optics, [Accessed 11/19/22], [https://atoptics.co.uk/halo/circ2.htm (opens in new tab)]

Apperson. G. L., Dictionary of Proverbs, Wordsworth Editions Limited, [ (opens in new tab)2006], ISBN 1 84022 311 1

Out-of-This-World Note Cards for Sale in College Fundraiser

Moon Airliner is a fascinating photo of an airliner accident photographed in front of a full Moon.

Western Nevada College is excited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Jack C. Davis Observatory in 2023. The observatory is named after the college’s first president and opened in 2003 with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, lecturing at opening ceremonies.
In honor of this milestone anniversary, WNC Foundation and the JCDO Director Dr. Thomas Herring have worked together to create some spectacular astrophotography for its annual fundraising note card campaign.
A pack of these fascinating note cards is available for $10. Each pack includes two notecards for each photograph for a total of 12 note cards. To purchase a pack of note cards, please phone Hilda Villafana at 775-445-3325.
Five of the six photographs were taken by John Dykes, an active volunteer at the observatory and a former president of the Western Nevada Astronomical Society (WNAS). The full Moon over WNC was a photo taken by Sam Golden of Choice 50 Photography.
Each pack includes:
• Moon Airliner: A plane caught by accident crossing in front of a full Moon. The
photographer didn’t notice until the next day that something was in the way.
• Horsehead: The Horsehead nebula is a reflection nebula located near Orion’s belt
about 1375 light years from Earth. The dark shape is dense gas and dust blocking
visible light from stars behind. The red surroundings are emissions from hydrogen, the
most abundant element in the universe.
• Pleiades: This is an open cluster of stars that has been given names by many
cultures around the globe. This cluster of young hot stars is located about 444 light
years from Earth. It is also known as Subaru in Japan, Makaliʻi to native Hawaiians, and
Matariki to the Māori.
• Rosette: This is a nebula of ionized atomic hydrogen about 5000 light years from
Earth. The red glow is characteristic of hydrogen emissions.
• Jack C. Davis Observatory with star trails: This photo is a time lapse of stars moving through the
sky as the Earth rotates on its axis. Photos were taken over the course of the night and
stacked together. During the final exposure a car’s headlights illuminated the building,
providing the contrast with the dark sky and shadows across the building itself.
• Full Moon over WNC: The fifth annual Reach for the Stars Gala fundraiser presented by WNC Foundation in August included an extra visual bonus from above — a spectacular full Moon.
For people with an interest in astronomy or a desire to learn more about the universe, you are invited to attend free Saturday night Star Parties from dusk until 11 p.m. at the observatory. WNC also offers astronomy classes, such as Stellar Astronomy (AST 110), this spring, and Dr. Thomas Herring and Northern Nevada lecturer Mike Thomas provide free lectures to the community throughout the year.

The Horsehead nebula is a reflection nebula located near Orion’s belt
about 1375 light years from Earth.

10 best Cyber Monday telescope deals we’ve seen so far

Cyber Monday deals are here and the best telescope deals are now in full throttle as we bid farewell to Black Friday, with hundreds of dollars worth of savings to be had across a wide range of telescopes. We’ve highlighted the best Cyber Monday deals for all gifts space-related this holiday season on our live Cyber Monday deals page. But to make things simpler we’ve rounded up our top 10 favorite telescope deals right here.

From beginner telescopes all the way up to premium telescopes, you can spend under $100 or over $1000 to enhance your stargazing experience. And there are some massive savings to be had, so check out the best Cyber Monday deals down below. 

10 best Cyber Monday telescope deals we’ve seen so far 2022

If none of those take your fancy, why not browse our guides to the Best telescopes, Best telescopes for deep space or Best telescopes for seeing planets. Entry-level astronomers might be interested in discovering some of the Best telescopes for beginners or for those with smaller hands, the Best telescopes for kids.

As well as bagging a Cyber Monday bargain here, we also have deals hubs for Budget telescopes under $500 and our perennial Telescope deals on sale. Or take a look at general space gifts in our Cyber Monday deals live page.

Best cameras for astrophotography: Cyber Monday deals 2022

Here we’ve rounded up the best cameras for astrophotography that we think will help you capture your best astro images. What’s more, many of them are, discounted Black Friday deals that are continuing over Cyber Monday. Keep an eye on our live Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals blog for all of the updates.

The bonus of having one of the best cameras for astrophotography is that they are typically versatile cameras that perform exceptionally for daytime shooting too. This negates the need to spend on additional equipment, something we all want to avoid with the ongoing rise in the cost of living.

Remember, it’s not all about the camera. Lenses are just as (if not more) important. That’s why we’ve laid out the best lenses for astrophotography too. We’ve also put together a guide for the best camera accessories for astrophotography and the best light pollution filters for astrophotography, especially important if you’re shooting in an area prone to skyglow.

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have long been known for their night sky shooting prowess. Low image noise, high ISO capabilities, and flexibility for regular daytime shooting make them ideal devices for many users. However, there are also astro-specific cameras that traditional photographers often overlook. These specialized devices mount to telescopes for incredibly clear astrophotographs that can easily surpass DSLR or mirrorless cameras, although they are unsuitable for conventional photography.

Astrophotographers will need to pay close attention to the performance of each system’s noise handling, as this is a common problem for low-light and night-time photographers. Check how well the camera blocks infrared light, as this is the only way to view cosmic objects. Removing the IR filter can be done by a specialist post-purchase. Dimensions and weight are also essential factors for portability and durability, chances are you’ll be traveling to find a suitable dark sky.

Despite the common misconception, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean best (for your purpose). Some cameras cost far less but give superior astro image quality than even the most expensive models. There does always tend to be a trade-off. That might be shooting flexibility or lens mount versatility. Of course, you won’t be able to capture the stars without a sturdy tripod, so check out our guide to the best tripods for astrophotography to prepare yourself with the best possible setup. 

Best cameras for astrophotography Black Friday deal:

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The best cameras for astrophotography in 2022

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

A workhorse and detail-oriented powerhouse, this 45.4MP DSLR is possibly one of the best cameras for astro full stop


Type: DSLR

Sensor: 45.4MP, Full-frame 35mm

Lens mount: F-mount

ISO range: 64-25600 (102400 expandable)

Viewfinder size/resolution: Optical, 0.75x mag

Video capability: 4K UHD 30FPS

Weight: 915g

Size: 146 x 124 x 78.5 mm

Memory card type: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-II, 1x XQD/CF Express

Reasons to buy


Huge stills resolution for extra detail 


Native compatibility with F-mount lens range 


Reliable and durable weather sealing 

Reasons to avoid

Bigger and bulkier than mirrorless 

Low ISO range 

Optical viewfinder 

The Nikon D850 DSLR was released almost five years ago but still keeps up with the young kids on the block, in many photography disciplines, including astro. The 45.7-megapixel image sensor on the D850 produces ultra-detailed stills photos while keeping image noise to a minimum. It even can shoot 4K UHD 30 frames per second video for those who want to make movies of the stars.

Partly due to when it was made, It is considerably heavier, bigger and bulkier than astro-specific cameras or its mirrorless competition. Still, thanks to its rugged construction and excellent weather sealing, it will last for many years, no matter what environment you choose to shoot in.

Like all DSLRs, it has an optical viewfinder, making it a little more challenging to compose and focus for night sky imaging, but the rear tilting touchscreen remedies this problem. It has two card slots for SD and XQD/CF Express cards to ensure it can record all that incredible detail at speed and for added peace of mind.

As seen on the flagship Nikon D5 (opens in new tab), the D850 utilizes full button illumination, making it simple to operate in the dark without needing a headlamp that may damage your night vision. This was one of the features we enjoyed most during our Nikon D850 review alongside its expandable ISO sensitivity range of 102400 — it practically sees in the dark. Although a very high ISO will drastically reduce image quality, it can useful just to help you compose your shot if nothing else.

(Image credit: Diana Jarvis)

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Stylish but capable, body mounted controls make for easy operation in the dark


Type: Mirrorless

Sensor: 26.1 megapixel APS-C

Lens mount: X-mount

ISO range: 160-12800 (80-51200 expanded)

Viewfinder size/resolution: 0.5-inch, 3.69 million dots

Video capability: 4K

Weight: 607g

Size: 135 x 93 x 64 mm

Memory card type: UHS-I / UHS-II / Video Speed Class V90 *1

Reasons to buy


Multi-swivel screen


Wide ISO sensitivity range 


Versatile for other photography types 

Reasons to avoid

Only 26MP 


No battery charger, it needs plugging in 

The X-T4 is Fujifilm’s flagship mirrorless camera and the most powerful X-series. It is an excellent option for astrophotography enthusiasts, as we discussed in our Fujifulm X-T4 review. The vari-angle screen makes composing shots much more comfortable than without, given the camera will be pointing at the sky. 

The classic look of the camera makes it stylish, but the body-mounted dial controls make it easier to use in the dark if you can remember which dial does what. The 26.1MP APS-C sensor creates excellent image quality, and there are plenty of lenses available to fit this model to enhance them further.

The Fuji X-T4 uses the NP-W235 battery with a CIPA rating of around 500 shots per charge in an everyday performance mode. When we carried out our full review, we found this can be much higher when shooting in the daytime. However, when shooting the night sky, the long exposures needed sap the battery more, so expect slightly fewer. 

This camera is a versatile option for photographers who regularly dabble in other styles of photography. It has a generous 6.5 stops of in-body image stabilization, excellent low-light performance, and a high-speed processing engine. That makes it ideal for action or sports photography. It is also a top choice when it comes to timelapse photography. Check out our best cameras for timelapse videos for alternative options for this style of capture.

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

A low light beast, this camera set a precedent as one of the best astro mirrorless cameras


Type: Mirrorless

Sensor: 24.2MP, Full-frame 35mm

Lens mount: E-mount

ISO range: 50-51200 (204800 for stills)

Viewfinder size/resolution: 0.5-inch, 2.35 million dots

Video capability: 4K UHD 30fps

Weight: 650g

Size: 126.9mm x 95.6mm x 73.7mm

Memory card type: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I/II compliant) 1x Multi slot for Memory

: Stick Duo/SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I compliant)

Reasons to buy


Incredible low light video performance


Good battery life


93% AF point coverage 

Reasons to avoid

Certainly a more expensive option

Low stills resolution compared to competition

New version now available

The Sony A7 III is a favorite among astrophotographers that like to shoot mirrorless and is one of the brightest stars of the astro camera world (pardon the pun). Though its electronic viewfinder isn’t as detailed as others we’ve listed, it still provides a beneficial exposure-ramped view to aid with composing astrophotographs. Low light autofocus detection, while not as sophisticated as some in this list, still performs well by working in -3 EV. In our Sony A7 III review, we were particularly impressed with the high dynamic range which allows you to recover amazing detail from the shadows.

Even when ramped up to a massive ISO 51200, this camera handles image noise well and produces excellent image results. For those not too worried about movie shooting (though it can capture 4K UHD at 30FPS), ISO can jump higher, expanding to an insane 204800 for stills photography. 

Shooting for hours at night can drain the battery quickly, especially when you consider it has to run power both to the rear screen and the EVF. However, this camera is CIPA-rated well above average for a mirrorless of this type and can shoot 710 still shots via the rear LCD monitor. It is a touch more expensive than others in its class, but if you’re after a natural low light performer that is also versatile enough to excel in other photography styles, the A7 III might be the one for you.

(Image credit: Jacob Little)

Small but important improvements over its predecessor


Type: Mirrorless

Sensor: BSI-CMOS 24.5MP

Lens mount: Z-mount

ISO range: 100-51200 (expanded 50-204800)

Video: 4K 60p

Weight without lens: 1.5lbs/675g

Memory card slots: 1x CFexpress/XQD, 1x UHS-II SD

Reasons to buy


Great for low-light shooting


Excellent weather sealing

Reasons to avoid

Not worth upgrading from the Z6

Lots of competition at a similar or lower price

Following the aforementioned Nikon Z6, it makes sense to talk about its successor, the Nikon Z6 II. As we discussed in our hands-on Nikon Z6 II review, there aren’t enough upgrades to warrant upgrading from one model to the other, and it’s not worth the extra cost if you’re only going to be shooting astro with it. 

That said, suppose you’re upgrading from a beginner model, capturing video, and shooting other photography styles alongside astro. In that case, the Z6 II is worth considering if you can spare the extra dollars, as it is a little more refined.

Take note of everything the Z6 has, but add a second memory card slot for extra storage and peace of mind, a faster burst rate and autofocus, quicker image processing, and 60FPS at 4K video shooting. 

Another inclusion astrophotographers will love is the better range of shutter speeds, allowing more control over those long exposure shots. The shutter speed limit is now 900 seconds (15 minutes).

(Image credit: Andy Hartup)

Realistic but exceptionally clear images of the night sky, and a better option for astro than the Z7


Type: Mirrorless

Sensor: 24.5MP, Full-frame 35mm

Lens mount: Z-mount

ISO range: 100-51200 (204800 expandable)

Viewfinder size/resolution: : 0.5-inch, 3.69 million dots

Video capability: 4K UHD 30fps

Weight: 705g

Size: 134 x 100.5 x 69.5 mm

Memory card type: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-II, 1x XQD/CF Express

Reasons to buy


Low image noise 


Superb electronic viewfinder 


Great low light Autofocus 

Reasons to avoid

Stills resolution not the highest 

Limited lens range 

Superseded by Z6 II 

Though superseded a while back by the superior Nikon Z6 II, the Z6 (one-half of the first two mirrorless cameras Nikon ever produced), is still one heck of a camera and excels in low light. For our money, we think the Z6 is better for astrophotographers than its big brother, the Z7, due to the lower resolution. A lower resolution on the same full-frame image sensor means less image noise detracting from the final shot. Whats more, the Z6 is also much cheaper than the Z7.

The Electronic Viewfinder has excellent detail, with a million more dots than the aforementioned Sony A7 III, and gives a realistic, clear image. Though the Z-mount lens range is expanding, but it’s still not as established as other models in this guide. Saying this, with an FTZ adapter, you can use any of Nikon’s F-mount lenses from the past several decades, so this isn’t a problem.

Our Nikon Z6 review found that shooting even up as high as ISO 12,800 adds very little noise or softness to the image, making it perfect for low-light situations like astro and night-time photography. This is especially true if you’re trying to pick out unlit objects or scenery to give the night sky some context. The image quality only degrades a little on the maximum and expanded settings.

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)

A pleasure to compose your shot even in the darkest skies as well as a nifty timelapse function


Type: DSLR

Sensor: 26.2MP, Full-frame 35mm

Lens mount: EF-mount

ISO range: 100-40000 (102400 expandable)

Viewfinder size/resolution: Optical, 0.71x mag

Video capability: 1920 x 1080, 60fps

Weight: 765g

Size: 144.0 x 110.5 x 74.8 mm

Memory card type: SD, SDHC or SDXC (UHS-I) card

Reasons to buy


4K timelapse feature 


Handy vari-angle touchscreen display 


A lot of camera for the money 

Reasons to avoid

No 4K video recording 

Only one SD memory card slot 

Low dynamic range a shame 

The Canon EOS 6D Mk 2 is an affordable DSLR for those wanting to dip their toes into astrophotography without breaking the bank. It does lack some modern features, but this is a brilliant full-frame option for its price point.

Its handy vari-angle touchscreen display makes it simple to compose the scene even if the camera is pointing skyward. For astro-shooters that like a moving image, the EOS 6D Mk 2 can shoot 4K time-lapses (in timelapse mode), making it perfect for detailed videos of the night sky, especially when paired with a slider or a star tracker. We found in our Canon EOS 6D Mk 2 review that it’s best to avoid this model if you’re planning on shooting fast action in low light, but that’s not a problem for astrophotography.

While it only captures regular video footage at full-HD 1080p, it records this at 60FPS for smooth results. Its dynamic range also leaves something to be desired, but if combined with plenty of calibration frames, this shouldn’t make much difference after image processing.

A single SD card slot might have nervous shooters biting their nails during longer sessions, but with 102400 expandable ISO and 26.2MP stills capture, you can relax knowing results will be clear and crisp every time.

(Image credit: Amazon)

A dedicated color astro camera producing stunning high resolution stills with an enormous frame rate


Type: Color CMOS astronomy camera

Sensor: 20.1MP, 1-inch

Lens mount: Scope mounted

ISO range: N/A

Video capability: 5496 x 3672, 19 FPS

Weight: 140g

Size: 62mm diameter

Memory card type: N/A

Reasons to buy


Electronic shutter minimises camera movement 


19FPS perfect for solar/lunar photography 


USB 3.0 output 

Reasons to avoid

Scope mounted only 

Requires dedicated software to run 

Images at 12 bit depth maximum 

This is a compact full-color camera with its own onboard cooling system to minimize noise whilst shooting long exposures. It is one of the best-dedicated astrophotography cameras out there, the ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro is the color version of the ZWO Optical ASI183. 

In our ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro review, we found it to represent a great choice for astrophotographers looking for a dedicated astro-imaging camera. You won’t need to bring a stack of RGB filters when heading out to shoot. It’s also much smaller and lighter than other astro cams. Still, at 1.6e read noise, it’s a serious camera.

It’s one of the more efficient camera models for astrophotography and provides a whopping 84% Quantum Efficiency peak. For an astro camera, it also has a high pixel count, at approximately 20.48MP.

It shoots an all-out frame rate of 19FPS at full resolution, which makes the ZWO Optical ASI183MC ideal for solar or lunar imaging. However, if users drop the resolution down, there’s the potential to shoot hundreds of frames a second if wanted! One downside, as with all dedicated astro cams, is that you’ll need to plug it into a computer with dedicated software to run it. A fast USB3.0 port means a healthy data transfer for the higher frame rate captures. 

(Image credit: https://astronomy-imaging-camera.com)

This camera’s design and build is very specifically geared towards clean astro shooting, as complemented by its zero amp glow


Type: Color CMOS astronomy camera

Sensor: 9MP, 1-inch

Lens mount: Scope mounted

ISO range: N/A

Viewfinder size/resolution: N/A

Video capability: 3008 x 3008, 20FPS

Weight: 800g

Size: 78mm

Memory card type: N/A

Reasons to buy


Zero amp glow 


80% quantum efficiency 


High 20FPS frame rate 

Reasons to avoid

No mono version 

Square CMOS sensor unusual for some 

The ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro’s most attractive feature is likely that it has zero amp glow. Although you can remove this in editing software, this additional processing time can stack up and reduce productivity, especially when considering that you could opt for an astro camera like this and avoid it altogether. By removing the need for extra processing, you’re also keeping a cleaner, more efficient resulting image.

This camera only comes in a color version, so monochromatic enthusiasts should leave their RGB filters at home. It has a good 80% Quantum Efficiency and a quick 20FPS frame rate for those needing to shoot fast. As with almost all dedicated astro cameras, the ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro needs an external power supply to work. A 9MP square sensor might seem a little unusual to some photographers, but it has 1.0e read noise and a 14-bit ADC for good dynamic range. 

In our ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro review, we concluded that it is a great choice for those looking for a simple-to-use, dedicated astro-imaging camera at an affordable price.

(Image credit: Andy Hartup)

While it’s an older model, it’s still a solid and reasonably priced choice for astrophotographers


Type: Full-fram mirrorless

Sensor: 30 megapixels

Lens mount: RF (EF and EF-S with adapter)

ISO range: 100-40000

Viewfinder size/resolution: 0.5-inch OLED EVF

Video capability: 4K and 10-bit

Weight: 580g

Size: 135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4mm

Memory card type:

Reasons to buy


30MP sensor


Good value for money


Excellent autofocus

Reasons to avoid

Button layout could be better

Not as rugged as it’s rivals

Though four years old, Canon’s first-ever full-frame mirrorless RF system camera still holds its own against the more recent releases.

As we discussed in our Canon EOS R review, it’s neither the sleekest nor best-built body, so you’d have to be a little gentler with it than you would some of the hardier models — like the Nikon Z6 — and the layout of the buttons could be more intuitive. None of these would be reasons not to buy this model, but they could take some getting used to.

Body and build quality aside, the performance of the Canon EOS R is above average when shooting in low light. It performs especially when using long exposures, which is perfect for traditional astro shooting, including long exposures and time-lapse shooting (don’t forget your tripod). It also processes the shots very quickly with little noticeable buffer lag.

The screen is large and clear, with impressive touch functionality. Like a smartphone, you can drag and set the focus with your finger. The vari-angle touch screen also makes taking low-angle shots much more comfortable.

How we test the best cameras for astrophotography

To guarantee you’re getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best cameras to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every camera through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each camera is reviewed based on many aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.

Each camera is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each camera and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use. For example, comparing a 60MP full-frame mirrorless camera to a sleek little crop-sensor DSLR wouldn’t be appropriate, though each camera might be the best performing product in its own class.

We look at how easy each camera is to operate, whether it contains the latest up-to-date imaging technology, whether the cameras can shoot high-quality stills photos and high-resolution video and also make suggestions if a particular camera would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on cameras, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

Best cameras for astrophotography: What to look for

It can be difficult to know what to look for in the best cameras for astrophotography, but there are some crucial factors to consider to help you decide. Budget is significant, with new users who want to dabble perhaps setting aside a little less than more seasoned photographers that will only settle for the very best images. However, image clarity is critical, and you’ll find that larger sensors with fewer pixels can capture astro shots with minimal image noise. By negating the effects of image noise, we’re able to process imagery more efficiently with better-detailed results.

While not particularly useful for astrophotography, autofocus may still be helpful for those who want to combine night-time shooting with near-twilight landscapes that show the brightest stars, planets, and satellites hanging above a beautiful foreground. A low EV rating on the autofocus ability is crucial for sharp shots in the dark. 

Fiddling around with one of the best headlamps can be helpful, but for those with inferior headlamps a dim-lit red light to set up your shot can be frustrating, so consider whether you need backlit illuminated buttons to help guide camera setup in the dark. 

Specialist astrophotography cameras have a predisposition to warm up during long exposure shots. Suppose you’re interested in getting an astro camera that has built-in cooling to keep the performance of the image capture high, it will likely be larger and heavier, and a little noisier as the fans whir while operating.

Photographers must consider lens choice when choosing a camera for astrophotography. While most major manufacturers have excellent ranges of top-quality glass, not all camera models can accept the full range of lenses due to differences in mount types. Ideally, fast lenses with wide apertures and excellent optical sharpness and clarity are what to look for when shooting astrophotography. Pair this with a camera body that handles high ISO and image noise well and you should be ready to go.

Canon EOS R10 is now $100 off this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Save $100 on the RRP of the Canon EOS R10 over at Walmart. (opens in new tab)

The brand new Canon EOS R10 has only been around for a few months this year but it’s already cheaper than the retail price over at Walmart for just $879 (opens in new tab) a price we’ve seen throughout the Black Friday weekend and we’re hoping to see continue over to Cyber Monday.

The new mirrorless camera has a 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) image sensor which also records 4K UHD 30p video footage. Combine that with the EOS R10’s maximum ISO sensitivity of 32,000 we’d suggest this is plenty good enough for astrophotography if you’re a casual photographer hoping to use it as a generalist camera, too. With that in mind, some buyers may be interested in our Best beginner cameras guide.

Thanks to the flip-around vari-angle LCD screen it’s useful for vloggers or any content creator who wants to record and see themselves without setting up a separate monitor. Though we wouldn’t recommend this is your main aim is astrophotography because full-frame cameras perform better in this area because they lower image noise. The main benefit of the R10 though is lots of mirrorless functionality in a small, lightweight package from Canon that has its most up-to-date stamp.

Because the Canon EOS R10 isn’t an astro-specialist we’d hope to see it perform well in other generalist areas like portraits, landscapes and a bit of wildlife or sports. Fortunately, Canon has taken this into account and it’s packed full of helpful features. It captures photos at 15FPS using the mechanical shutter and uses the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology to track focus continuously (if required) using its intelligent people, animal and vehicle autofocusing. All this for $100 less than the retail price (opens in new tab).

It’s compatible with the Canon RF-S/RF lens group but if you want to use older EF and EF-S lenses then use the EF-EOS R mount adapter to expand your lens range — particularly helpful for existing Canon DSLR users who want to upgrade to the very latest beginner mirrorless camera technology without dropping a ton of money on lens upgrades, too.

Be sure to check out Space.com’s Black Friday deals page, or our guide to the Best cameras for photos and videos or the Best cameras for astrophotography.

Cyber Monday Deals live now: Telescopes, VR headsets, Lego and more


Act fast! Get Peacock for just $1 per month for a full year

(Image credit: Peacock/NBC Universal)

Stream Battlestar Galactica and other amazing sci-fi for less courtesy of Peacock, but act fast before this Cyber Monday deal expires.

This Cyber Monday deal on Peacock can save you a whopping 80% (opens in new tab) for the full year, which includes a great mix of new TV shows and classic movies. Aside from BSG, you’ll find superhero show Heroes, the universe-hopping 1990s show Sliders, recent comedy Resident Alien, and older movies like Phantasm and Serenity (the follow-up to Firefly). 

Those are just some of the space and sci-fi options available on Peacock, and this deal will likely fly away quickly. if you’re looking for more streaming offers, we’ve also posted about deals on 50% off Paramount Plus (opens in new tab) and Hulu for just $1.99 per month (opens in new tab) too, among other Cyber Monday streaming deals of the universe.

Rocket away with up to 32% off on Cyber Monday Estes deals

(Image credit: Amazon)

Impress your space history buff with model rockets from trusted brand name Estes, which will complete their collection for Cyber Monday.

The Estes Saturn V moon rocket 1:200 Scale will let you relive human lunar missions at just $73.29 at Amazon (opens in new tab), or 18% off. Another key player in early space history, the Estes 7255 Little Joe I, is just $93.59 at Amazon (opens in new tab) or 26% off.

Alternatively, you can snag the Estes 810 220 Swift Flying Model Rocket Kit, Brown/A at $7.49 at Amazon (opens in new tab) or 32% off,  the Estes 2169 Dragonite Flying Model Rocket Kit at $16.49 at Amazon (opens in new tab) or 13% off, and the Estes Hi-Flier Flying Model Rocket Kit at $12.60 at Amazon (opens in new tab) or 12% off.

Get yourself the wadding, engines and other components your flight plan requires and you’ll be all set to go. Check out our best model rockets guide for informed discount shopping, or consider our Black Friday deals page, our guides to the best drones, best cameras for photos and videos, and best cameras for astrophotography.

Fly away with 72% savings on this HR Drone for kids this Cyber Monday

(Image credit: Amazon)

This is a Cyber Monday discount that is sure to lift off quickly! 

The HR Drone for Kids is hovering at a low price of $35.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab) , and likely won’t last long at that price. At nearly $100 off, you will save 72 percent on the perfect gift for your high-flying child, allowing you to fill out your holiday roster at a discount price. 

Enjoy the high-definition camera for in-inflight imagery and video, which you can livestream to your phone with the right connection. Beginners will especially love the feature allowing you to guide your drone along a flight path drawn on your phone.

Our guides to the best drones have more deals on offer. Otherwise, you can snag a lot of high-flying gifts at Space.com’s Black Friday deals page, or our guides to the best cameras for photos and videos and best cameras for astrophotography.

Remember to beam up Paramount Plus and save 50% on a full year for Cyber Monday

(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Get your Star Trek and Halo cravings on with a deep discount on Paramount Plus ahead of Cyber Monday.

Paramount Plus is offering a 50% discount on its two streaming plans, allowing you to warp speed through sci-fi shows and space content as long as you are ready to binge on the annual plan. This deal will end today (Nov. 27), so act quickly.

Snag your infinite streaming for a year on Paramount Plus for as low as $24.99 a year (opens in new tab) or about $2 a month, on an ads tier. The ad-free Premium tier is also half off, at an impressive $49.99 a year or just over $4 a month. 

If Paramount Plus isn’t your preferred service, check out our other Cyber Monday streaming deals to satisfy your sci-fi cravings. You can also see our latest Cyber Monday deals for non-streaming bargains.

Join the Jedi with this 80% off Star Wars lightsaber Cyber Monday gift

(Image credit: Tigoola)

Use the Force for up to 84% off on a huge range of lightsaber deals and gifts this Cyber Monday.

You’ll want to hyperdrive fast into the Tigoola Pixel Lightsaber Star Wars deal, now just $81 at Amazon (opens in new tab) (compared with the usual $509.99). It includes 13 colors, five sound modes, and aluminum alloy hand grip.

Close behind is the HOCET Star Wars Neo Realistic Pixel Lightsaber, an incredible 82% off and now just now $93.59 at Amazon (opens in new tab). It includes 13 colors, five sound modes, and aluminum alloy hand grip.

These gifts are perfect for padawans or long-time fans and believe us, those are only the beginning of Star Wars content. Consider our best lightsabers guide for 2022 if you want more fighting options. Or you can also see all of our best Lego Star Wars sets and our best Lego Star Wars deals to stock up for Cyber Monday.

Save a stellar 20% on National Geographic 70 computerized telescope

(Image credit: Amazon)

There’s a galactic Cyber Monday deal on that will satisfy your amateur astronomer this holiday season. This National Geographic 70 Computerized Refractor Telescope is 20% off at Kohl’s (opens in new tab) and is simply stellar at $236.79, an incredible $133 discount.

Be sure to use the SHOP20 code at checkout to secure the discount. The computerized telescope will swing among the stars just as you desire, allowing you to look at the moon, some planets, and a clutch of your favorite constellations.

Included in this incredible deal are a tripod and two eyepieces. This telescope is compact, allowing you to bring it around your residence, on your balcony or in your vehicle for stargazing in just the right location.

Check out even more Cyber Monday discounts in our best telescopes, best telescopes for deep space or best telescopes for seeing planets. Entry-level astronomers might enjoy best telescopes for beginners or, for youngsters, best telescopes for kids.

Get 44% off this National Geographic Explorer 114 telescope from Kohl’s

(Image credit: Amazon)

When you combine code SHOP20 at Kohl’s, you can make an impressive saving of over $90 (opens in new tab)on this reflector from National Geographic’s line of telescopes. The National Geographic Explorer 114 is manufactured by company Explore Scientific.  

Featuring a 114mm aperture and a focal length of 500mm, this instrument allows the astronomer to get up close to some of the most dazzling deep-sky targets, splitting double stars with ease, get lost in star clusters and magnify nebulas. The rugged surface of the moon is also stunning through the eyepiece (26mm and 9.7mm Plössls are supplied), along with the planets of our solar system.

Aimed at beginners, the Explorer 114 comes with a simple equatorial mounting system. This enables observers to track chosen targets as the Earth rotates for clear images should astronomers wish to dabble in some basic smartphone astrophotography with this exquisite telescope. 

Also included in the package is an adjustable tripod, red dot finderscope, Stellarium computer software and star map, supplying the astronomer with everything they need for a well-equipped observing session.

The Svbony SV550 is now $160 off this Cyber Monday!

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you’re wanting to make short work of creating exquisite deep-sky astrophotos, then look no further than the SV550 APO triplet refractor. This Cyber Monday, it’s a steal from Amazon with $160 off the retail price (opens in new tab).

Thanks to low-dispersion ED glass and correction glass, the Svbony SV550 is able to rid observations and images of chromatic aberration, which can often plague bright night-sky targets. What’s more, the telescope also makes use of an air-spaced triple optical system, which eliminates any blue or purple fringing. 

The SV550 is also made of magnesium alloy material for a lightweight design that makes the instrument easy to carry, while a 180mm dovetail plate ensures that this refractor is versatile for fitting to your chosen mount and tripod. 

This Lego Star Wars deal gets you the rare, retiring Imperial Probe Droid for its lowest price ever

(Image credit: Target)

Save 30% on the list price of this Lego Star Wars Imperial Probe Droid, which is set to retire soon — so grab it while you still can.

This Lego Star Wars set gives owners the chance to relive the epic Galactic Empire encounters in miniature form at home. There’s a transparent segment that gives the appearance of the Imperial droid being suspended over the snowy planet, Hoth. Fortunately for you, it’s not just Amazon giving you this great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal but you can find the same deal at Target (opens in new tab).

The set isn’t too big either, according to the manufacturer the Imperial Probe Droid model will stand 10.5-inches (27 cm) tall, sit 9-inches (24 cm) wide and extends 4 inches (11 cm) deep.

Want a Lego set but aren’t sure which one yet? Take a look at our Cyber Monday Lego deals of 2022.

Save $80 on the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX130 telescope

(Image credit: Celestron)

Save $80 on one of the best telescopes for beginners on the market. Combining a 130mm aperture and 650mm focal length with Celestron’s usual good build quality and sharp optics makes the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ great for observing nebulas, galaxies and star clusters.

With a decent 16% Black Friday saving the telescope also comes with all the accessories you need to get started straight out of the box. Two eyepieces, (25mm and 10mm) the telescope mount and tripod (preassembled), a StarPointer finderscope, accessory tray and StarSense Explorer phone dock for use with smartphones. 

Download the StarSense app and quickly use the telescope to navigate the night sky without any prior knowledge of the night sky, and place it in the dock to align with the telescope itself.

60% Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal on the JOBY GorillaPod 5K Tripod Kit with Rig

(Image credit: Joby)

The remarkable thing about this particular GorillaPod kit, which is available at Adorama with a massive 60% saving, is that it has arms. You can use it to hold phones, lights, microphones or even a small secondary camera like a GoPro. You can also hold the ‘arms’ while recording a video or selfie.

Joby has made a name for itself over the last few decades as a purveyor of an innovative tripod style that uses articulated ball joints that twist around anything and everything to give you the flexibility to stabilize your camera wherever you may find yourself. That might be railings, lamp posts, benches or anything else you may come across in the urban landscape, but also natural landscape features like rocks and trees, excellent for timelapse photography and astrophotography when you don’t want to carry a larger tripod.

 Despite only weighing 0.84kg/1.85lb, the Joby GorillaPod 5k can hold up to — as the name suggests — 5k/11lbs of kit, which is very impressive for such a small tripod. If you’re off out on a trek or simply don’t have enough space or weight allowance left in your luggage, that is where this tripod comes into its own — when folded, it is a mere 43.18cm long, so it takes up hardly any space. Check out our guides to the best tripods and best travel tripods to discover more.

The new Canon EOS R10 is now $100 cheaper this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

(Image credit: Canon)

The Canon EOS R10 mirrorless camera was only launched a few months ago but you can already save $100 on the retail price than the retail price over at Walmart for just $879, a price we spotted it this Black Friday weekend and we’re hoping to see continue over to Cyber Monday.

This entry-level APS-C crop sensor mirrorless camera is fitted with a 24.2 Megapixel CMOS image sensor that captures 4K UHD 30p video footage. When we look at the maximum ISO sensitivity of 32,000 we’re confident it’s strong enough to cope with most casual astrophotographer’s needs as well as more generalist use. It’s suited for portraits, landscapes and a bit of wildlife thanks to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocusing system (that can track people, animals and vehicles) and its 15FPS maximum burst speed for stills photographs.

Take a look at our round-up of the Best mirrorless cameras and Best cameras for photos and videos overall if you want to shop around, though.

Save a massive $760 off this Autel EVO II V2 Pro drone bundle

(Image credit: Autel)

The Autel Robotics EVO II V2 Pro has an on-board 6K camera to capture large stills images while flying for up for 40 minutes and in that time, if you can manage it, the drone can be controlled for up to a distance of 9KM. In the market for a rugged 6K drone? This is probably one of the best drones out there.

It’s not just the drone you get with this excellent $760 saving from Adorama, it’s also bundled with everything you need to get up in the air. 

Not sure if this drone is right for you? Be sure to check out our other Black Friday drone deals, we’ve found a brilliant offer on the DJI Mini 2 bundle that’s not to be missed.

These moon lamp gifts will bring holiday cheer for up to 30% off

(Image credit: Amazon)

Light up your astronomy fan’s life with a wide variety of moon lamps, all between 20% and 30% off.

The star deal is the VGAzer Moon Lamp, which is just $71.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab) and an incredible 20% off. It hovers via magic magnetism and can pivot between three different lighting intensities for soft nightlighting or powerful party vibes.

Alternatively, the well-known brand Mydethun has a 16-color moon lamp for just $23.16 at Amazon (opens in new tab) which is 20% off with far more shades. The biggest discount is the Logrotate-16 color lamp (pictured) that is only $13.98 at Amazon.

If you’re on the hunt for other space decor, check out Space.com’s Black Friday deals page. There are lots of discount ways to check out the moon for real, too, through our best telescopes, our best binoculars, and the 10 best Black Friday telescope deals we’ve seen so far of 2022.

Bring your next gift into focus for less: The Nikon ProStaff P3 8×42 waterproof binoculars are 15% off

(Image credit: Amazon)

Searching for a somewhat bulky stocking stuffer for your space fan? Binoculars are the perfect choice and this pair is sturdy enough to stand up to nearly anything.

The Nikon ProStaff P3 8×42 waterproof binoculars are 16% off at Best Buy (opens in new tab). They’re resistant against water, shock and fog and priced at a bargain $119.95, which is absolute basement-style pricing in astronomy.

You’ll get a deep discount on one of the best brands of astronomy, as Nikon has been around for over 100 years. Included also are fully coated lenses to reduce glare and a generous 42 mm lens and 8x magnification to peer at wildlife or distant stars.

If you want more astronomical options beyond this deal, you can check out our best binoculars of 2022, or fans of this brand can head over to our best Nikon cameras to pair up with the bino set for image captures in the field.

Spy this holiday deal! The Celestron 76mm Signature Series FirstScope bundle is 10% off

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bathe yourself in the moon’s glow with this lunar-adorned version of the Celestron 76mm Signature Series FirstScope. 

The Celestron 76mm Signature Series FirstScope is just $64.86 at Amazon (opens in new tab), offering an incredibly compact beginner’s telescope along with astronomy software and an illustrated e-book. All this is available for 10% less, so act quickly while stock is available. 

Celestron, one of the most recognized brands in astronomy, has a special treat for this telescope: the moon image includes 10 targets you can practice finding in this telescope. It’s tabletop size, easy to fit on a balcony or in a car to get the most out of your observing time. Two eyepieces and a flexible repositioning system allow you to get a fix on different targets in the sky, like galaxies, Saturn’s rings or the Milky Way.

If you’re looking for more beginners’ telescopes before committing to this deal, do check out out our bargain beginner telescopes guide, or the deals in our best telescopes guide. 

A perfect stocking stuffer! Mandalorian and Grogu Amazon Fire TV Sticks are up to 39% off

(Image credit: Amazon)

Get your Grogu moves on with this incredible value gift idea for your Star Wars fan.

Amazon’s Fire Stick is available in two shades for Star Wars padawans: iconic Grogu (Baby Yoda) green for just $41.98 (opens in new tab), or 39% off the base price. If you prefer blue after Din Djarin, the Mandalorian himself, you can score one for just $36.98 (opens in new tab) or 37% off the base price.  

The Grogu Green Fire TV Stick 4K allows for glorious 4K streaming with a little image of Grogu amid stars and the Star Wars logo text. You can also summon Disney Plus using the included Alexa button. Otherwise, nab your Bounty Blue version that has images of The Mandalorian, Grogu and the logo of the hit series; there’s no 4K on the blue one, but it still has Alexa available.

If you’re not fussy about your stick having a Star Wars flare to it, there are even more options out there for you. Just hyperdrive over to our full roundup of Amazon Fire TV Stick deals for Black Friday. You can also see all of our best Lego Star Wars sets and our best Lego Star Wars deals to pick up more bargain deals for your big fan.

Save 50% on Celestron’s 114AZ-SR beginner’s telescope

(Image credit: Celestron)

If you’re looking for a great beginner’s telescope that won’t break the bank, this Celestron 114AZ-SR telescope is nearly 50% off at Kohl’s (opens in new tab), on sale for $111.99 down from $219.99, and comes with everything you need to start photographing the night sky with your smartphone. 

You’ll save $108 on this smartphone-ready telescope, which is a 114mm Newtonian reflector that comes bundled with additional eyepieces and other accessories for get you started on your night sky adventure. Unlike the tabletop FirstScope, which is also on sale for Black Friday, the Celestron 114AZ-SR comes with a full-size tripod that’s lightweight enough to be portable, but stable enough for observing while standing along side. 

Like the “SR” in its name suggests, this telescope comes with a mount smartphone adaptor mount to keep your phone’s camera secure against its eyepiece during photo sessions. It also has two Plössl eyepieces at 26mm and 9.7mm sizes with 1.25-inch mounts, and a red dot StarPointer finderscope for targeting and calibration.

The telescope is not computerized, so you’ll have to align it yourself and research what’s up in the night sky when observing, but it does come with Celestron’s SkyPortal smartphone app and the skywatching software Starry Night to help you identify what, when and where to look at in the night sky. Celestron is an icon of skywatching hardware, so the instrument comes from manufacturer with a proven track record of quality hardware.

If this telescope isn’t exactly what you’re looking for this Black Friday, you do have options. You can check out our top 10 Black Friday telescope deals, our guide to the best telescopes around now or just the best telescope deals overall for more.

Lego Robot Inventor Kit is 20% off

(Image credit: Lego)

If you have a future roboticist at hope just looking for new robots to assemble, this Lego Robot Inventor kit may be the gift you’re looking for this Christmas. 

Currently on sale for 20% off at Lego.com (opens in new tab), at $287.99 down from $359.99, this Lego Robot Inventor Kit will allow kids to build five different basic robot designs and code them to move using an associated Robot Inventor App that uses a visual based interface to string commands together. It also includes microphone and camera input, so young builders can say “Stop!” if it’s getting out of control. Color and distance sensors allow the robots to react to basic inputs as well.

The set is a more general version of Lego’s amazing Star Wars Droid Commander (opens in new tab), which has been retired and is hard to find. Like the Droid Commander set, the Lego Robot Inventor Kit is also due to be retired soon, so this may be among the lowest prices it will be before it’s gone.

A huge Black Friday saving: Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binocular now under $100

(Image credit: Celestron)

Save $70 on the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binoculars this Black Friday from one of our favorite optics manufacturers in the stargazing game.

Binoculars are a great alternative to stargazing with telescopes because they’re also useful for daytime observing of subjects like birds, wildlife and aviation. Offering a relatively wide field with 8x magnification, the Nature DX 8×42 binoculars make it easy to track moving subjects because they don’t disappear out of view quickly.

Pair that with decent 42mm objective lenses and these are good for general observing, especially when light levels start to drop near twilight. If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a pair of the best binoculars this Black Friday but weren’t sure which ones are right, the generalist Celestron Nature DX 8×42 could be the perfect compromise.

Encalife Star Light Galaxy Projector 42% off

(Image credit: Encalife)

If you’re like us here at Space.com, finding a way to bring space down to Earth is a lifelong pursuit and you can set the scene at home for a great price with this Encalife Star Light Projector deal at Amazon for Black Friday.

Right now, you can save 42% on this Star Light Galaxy Projector (opens in new tab) and cover your home with an illuminating starry sky and colors. Amazon is offering the star projector for $34.97,  a $25 savings off its usual $59.97 price. 

We reviewed this star project earlier this year and were impressed with not just its light show, but ability to serve as  Bluetooth speaker, as well. If you’re a stickler for science accuracy, you won’t find realistic representations of stars, galaxies and nebulas with this projector, but you will find a capable projector for setting the tone of your room to space for a gaming session, or even just to wind down before bed. 

This star projector does have 21 different lighting modes that can be adjusted by buttons on the projector itself or via an external remote control. Like with most Bluetooth speakers, you can cast music to the device by connecting it through a proprietary app and smartphone. It even has a sleep timer so it will switch off after you fall asleep, ensuring you won’t waste power as you drift off to slumber in the final frontier.

Be sure to check out Space.com’s guide to the best star projectors in case this deal isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

Vaonis Vespera smart telescope: Black Friday savings of $500

(Image credit: Vaonis)

Perfect for any beginner telescope enthusiast or the veteran astronomer that wants to avoid the faff of setting up and aligning a traditional telescope and astro camera, the Vaonis Vespera is now $500 off its original price

It’s an automated, computerized smart telescope that even new users can set up in around five minutes. No knowledge of the night sky is required, simply synchronize with the dedicated smartphone app and start navigating the night sky, slewing to favorite celestial objects in a matter of seconds.

You can then photograph the night sky, or get an enhanced view, using the in-built astro camera — no more need to buy a separate camera or telescope adapter. We loved it during our Vaonis Vespera review, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

$400 off the Nikon Z7 II this Black Friday weekend

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Save $400 on the Nikon Z7 II which is an all-round powerhouse full-frame mirrorless camera, and with a $400 discount, it’s the cheapest we’ve ever seen it.

In our Nikon Z7 II review, we awarded it 4.5 out of 5 stars, largely thanks to its excellent full-frame image quality and admirable overall performance. We’re happy to share that this mirrorless camera has been discounted by $400 as part of B&H Photo’s Black Friday deals. It will stay at this price, while stocks last, until Nov 28 at 11:59 EST.

It shoots detailed 45.7MP resolution stills photos, which matches one of the best cameras for astrophotography, the Nikon D850 (which, as it happens, is also on sale with a $900 discount). For video lovers, it also captures 4KUHD 60p footage.

25% off the Nikon ProStaff 3S binoculars for Black Friday

(Image credit: Nikon)

Save 25% on the Nikon ProStaff 3s 10×42 binoculars with this Black Friday binocular deal that is still running this weekend.

A big bargain on these high-quality binoculars, the ProStaff 3S 10×42 binoculars are waterproof up to 1m and you can continue to submerge them for up to 10 minutes, so even if you drop them in a lake you can (theoretically) take your time fishing them out. 

These slender, lightweight binoculars weigh just 20.3 oz / 575 g and are Nitrogen-purged which means they’re fogproof — something astronomers and wildlife spotters hate when using binoculars as it can stop binocular use at crucial moments when moving between warm and cold environments.

Adjustable eyecups mean anyone can use these binoculars, even if you wear eyeglasses. Whether you want to stargaze using the decent-sized 42mm apertures, or simply birdwatch, wildlife spot, hunt or observe air shows these quality binoculars from Nikon are now at a quarter of the price.

44% off the Celestron NexStar 4SE computerized telescope for a limited-time Black Friday telescope deal

(Image credit: Celestron)

Save a huge 44% (nearly half price) on this small, compact computerized Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is a catadioptric telescope that blends two optics systems to provide incredible night sky views in a tiny package.

We’ve never seen this iconic orange tube telescope down this cheap and we suspect the deal won’t last long because we can’t see this price anywhere else, so act fast if you want to take advantage of it.

The NexStar 4SE is a go-to fully automated, and because it’s computerized and runs on a motor you can automatically track night sky objects without having to push-to them manually. Simply plug in the number of your desired celestial body and let the telescope do the rest. Check out our Celestron NexStar 4SE review here for more info.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens now reduced to under $2000 this Black Friday

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Save $400 on a lens that’s practically asking to take astrophotographs. The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is an RF-mount (mirrorless) ultra-wide zoom lens from Canon. It’s great for a wide variety of photographic disciplines, but none more perfect than astrophotography.

A fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 is constant throughout the zoom range which maximizes light input to the camera. L-series quality optics from Canon make the image sharp edge to edge throughout the zoom range as we found out in our Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens review. Taking it off the tripod and going handheld? Dont worry, this lens has five stops of Image Stabilization (IS) to steady your shots. A quiet Ultra-Sonic Motor (USM) provides fast autofocusing for Canon mirrorless cameras for daytime use, too.

Remote control Star Wars Grogu plush is just $44 on Black Friday

(Image credit: Amazon)

Grogu, or Baby Yoda as most of us still refer to him, remains a fresh face in the Star Wars universe and now you can get an adorable plush of him for less.

This Black Friday, you can get a remote-controlled, soft-bodied Grogu to waddle around your home for just $44.43 (opens in new tab), a savings of 32%. (Who can resist that face!)

Grogu, an adorable soft-bodied plush, is around 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) tall and has a range of movements made famous in The Mandalorian television series. Via remote control he can tilt his head, pull his ears back, waddle or simply gaze, cutsie-style, at whatever is in front of him (food or living being.)

If the most adorable aliens ever aren’t your preference, we still have more deals for you to enjoy. We’ve got guides on Star Wars Lego deals and Black Friday Lego deals for more great savings on Star Wars, Space, and even Marvel Lego sets. More holiday fun comes via our Black Friday deals that all have space on the brain.

Take off $760 with this Autel EVO II V2 Pro drone bundle deal

(Image credit: Autel)

Lift off with the Autel Robotics EVO II V2 Pro with an impressive $760 discount.

Rated as one of the best drones out there, you can snag the Autel Robotics EVO II V2 Pro drone bundle at Adorama for just $1739 (opens in new tab) in their Black Friday sale. 

You’ll nab a lot of great footage with the industry-leading 6K camera and can soar in flight for up to 40 minutes. It’s the perfect balance between great footage and a good hang time for scouting out your next filming location.

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, check out our other Black Friday drone deals. There’s a fantastic offer on the DJI Mini 2 bundle that is also worth your attention.

Playmobil Star Trek warp speeds into a $150 discount

(Image credit: Amazon)

Beam into an amazing U.S.S. Enterprise Playmobil set for $150 less on Black Friday.

The iconic Star Trek ship is at a rare 32% for Black Friday, making NCC-1701 an affordable $340.25 on Amazon. (opens in new tab) Don’t be fooled by imagining that this Playmobil set is just for kids, as this particular set includes a lot of detail that teens and adults will still enjoy.

Included are the legendary crew of NCC-1701 and collector’s items details that gave good marks in our Playmobil Star Trek USS Enterprise review. Included are crew members Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, McCoy, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov. The set comes with a removable roof to put the crew in the iconic bridge of NCC-1701.

If you’re less of a Trekkie and more of a Star Wars fan, however, be sure to check out our Star Wars Lego deals as well as our latest Black Friday deals for more gift ideas for this holiday season.

Lego UCS Millennium Falcon deal just got better and is now $180 off!

The Lego UCS Millennium Falcon is more affordable than ever this Black Friday with a markdown of $180. (Image credit: Future)

The Lego UCS Millennium Falcon is more affordable than ever this Black Friday with a markdown of $180.

Usually $849.99, the UCS Millennium Falcon can be yours for just $669.99 (opens in new tab) at the website Zavvi when you use the discount code BFFALCON at checkout. This Millennium Falcon mega-kit has rarely been on sale, and has become one of the most sought-after kits in the Lego Star Wars collection. If you need Han Solo’s trusty Corellian YT-1300 light freighter in your Lego collection, now’s your chance to finally snag it – at a price sure to make any Wookie bleat “RRRUUUUURRRR” for joy.

It’s unclear how deep Zaavi’s stock of the Lego UCS Millennium Falcon goes, so don’t let this $180 off deal (opens in new tab) slip away before it jumps to hyperspace!

If the Lego UCS Millennium Falcon kit isn’t for you, be sure to check out our Black Friday Lego deals page for more great savings on Star Wars, Space, and Marvel Lego kits for the special collector/builder in your life.

Hulu + Disney Plus Black Friday Bundle deal

(Image credit: Hulu)

While Hulu’s Black Friday deal is offering the streaming service for just $1.99 a month, Disney just sweetened the put to offer its Disney Plus service for just $2.99 more. 

The Hulu + Disney Plus Black Friday Bundle (opens in new tab)is a combo deal that offers full access to Hulu and Disney Plus for just $4.98 a month. That’s down from the usual $7.99 a month of Hulu alone and throws in access to Disney’s entire catalog of Star Wars films, TV shows and other science fiction titles. 

Disney Plus is currently not offering any deals on the service alone, so this Hulu/Disney Plus bundle may be the best chance to score both streaming services at discount for your first year. NBC’s Peacock streaming service (opens in new tab)and the Paramount Plus streaming service (opens in new tab), the home of all things Star Trek, also have Black Friday deals on now. You can see our full roundup of streaming deals for Black Friday for more.

Is this the Nikon Z6 II’s lowest-ever price? Now just $1696

(Image credit: Jacob Little)

We don’t think we’ve ever seen the Nikon Z6 II full-frame mirrorless camera this cheap before and, given how popular it is, we’re unlikely to see it drop any further. If you have been waiting to grab a mirrorless camera at a bargain price, then this is it. Save $300 on the Nikon Z6 II right now.

It’s suited to any photographer — even beginners, and is more than capable for astrophotography and is the perfect second camera for a professional photographer. It shoots 24.5MP stills with the FX-Format full-frame BSI CMOS Sensor inside and captures video at 4KUHD 30p with N-log format for full editing flexibility.

While you can shoot this stunning camera at 14FPS (perfect for wildlife and sports) it has a wide ISO range too, between 100-51,200 which makes it suitable for astrophotography and low-light photography and that’s why it features in our guide to the best cameras for astrophotography.

Celestron Travel Scope 70 now under $100

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If you’re looking for a budget telescope to get into skywatching without dropping big coin or need a smaller, more portable telescope to travel with, it’s hard to go wrong with the Celestron Travel Scope 70 — a fantastic telescope at a bargain price now 16% off.

Although this refractor telescope is ideal for beginner astronomers and is now under $100 that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. The Travel Scope’s 70mm optics give excellent views of the moon and it’s packaged with two eyepieces that make it useful for stargazing or even daytime observation of nature and wildlife. Want to shop around for the best Black Friday telescope deals? Have a look at our page for the 10 best Black Friday telescope deals we’ve seen so far.

Save 30% on the Lego Star Wars Razor Crest, now under $100

(Image credit: Lego)

The Mandalorian is one of Star Wars’ most popular TV spinoffs, so it makes sense that the main ship from the show, The Razor Crest, gets the full Lego treatment. 

Right now, you can get 30% off the Lego Star Wars Razor Crest at Amazon, dropping the price down to just $97.99. That’s a fantastic discount on a wonderful Lego set – we actually reviewed the Razor Crest late last year and we really enjoyed it .

This set includes five minifigs (including an adorable Grogu), as well as an opening cockpit and cargo bay. It even fires projectiles, making it an easy pick as one of our favorite Lego Star Wars deals so far.

Sony A7R IVA camera bundle was $3498, now $2998 at Walmart

(Image credit: Walmart)

Save a magnificent $510 on this Sony A7R IVA full-frame mirrorless camera and accessory bundle. Walmart is offering this hefty camera deal on Black Friday and it is the best Sony camera deal we’ve seen so far. Not only does it come with the mammoth 61MP mirrorless monster that can also shoot 4KUHD 30p video, but it has a whole host of camera accessories, to boot. This is the best Sony mirrorless camera Black Friday deal we’ve seen so far.

The kit is shown as including: a Koah flight case, a Sony 64GB V60 SDXC memory card, two spare Koah batteries and a Koah double battery charger, a suite of Corel photo and video editing software and a Zeiss cleaning kit, plus a camera battery grip. Every other A7R IV or IVA deal we’ve seen is either more expensive or doesn’t come with the amount of extra that this bundle from Walmart does, so we think this is the time to invest in Sony mirrorless if you’re going to.

Get Peacock for just $1 per month for a whole year

(Image credit: Comcast)

NBC’s streaming service is great for the whole family thanks to new movie releases like Nope or Minions: The Rise of Gru, but it’s even better for sci-fi fans. That’s because it’s the home of Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and recent Alan Tudyk comedy Resident Alien.

Use code ‘SAVEBIG’ to get Peacock for only $0.99/mo for 12 months. This offer is only available for new subscribers.

This fantastic deal saves users 80%, making an annual subscription just $12 (or $1 per month). Factor in a huge back catalog of movies and TV, and that’s a small price to pay.

Save over $100 on the Celestron Inspire 100AZ telescope

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Save 23% on this beginner-friendly refractor from Celestron. xxx
We reviewed the Celestron Inspire 100AZ earlier this year and we found that, with weather permitting, we could get impressive views of the moon and Saturn. We were even able to spot the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and some other bright star clusters.

We were so impressed with it that we’ve named the Celestron Inspire 100AZ the best telescope for beginners and we’ve included it in our round-up of the best telescopes overall.

A refractor with an Alt-Azimuth mount, this 100mm aperture, 600mm focal length telescope is about as good as it gets for beginner astronomers or those that want to get into stargazing without breaking the bank. Now with over $100 off for Black Friday it’s never been more affordable.

Save over $140 on the Svbony SV503 astrophotography telescope 

(Image credit: Amazon)

With its 102mm aperture and f/7 focal ratio, astrophotographers can enjoy crisp and clear images of their favorite night sky targets with the Svbony SV503. What’s more, and this Black Friday, you can snap up this exquisite instrument at 20% less (opens in new tab) than the retail price.

The Svbony SV503 energy-dispersed glass improves on pesky color-fringing, while the dual rack-and-pinion focuser can be fine tuned to bring planets, galaxies, nebulas and the rugged surface of the moon into sharp focus. 

While this refractor doesn’t come with a tripod or mount, the Svbony SV503 offers a metal hoop dovetail, focuser wheel, lens cover and tube ring, allowing astronomers to accessorize their way for optimum results.

Celestron SkyMaster 25×100 binocular is now 22% off

(Image credit: Celestron)

The largest binocular of Celestron’s SkyMaster range, the 25×100 binocular ensures superb sharp focus across the field of view — and now you can enjoy over $100 off (opens in new tab) on crystal clear sights of a selection of targets, from the moon to deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). This binocular also provides excellent terrestrial views during the day.

Featuring high-quality BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics for excellent contrast, the SkyMaster’s 100mm objective lens and 4mm exit pupil allow your eyes to collect light in a variety of low-light and long-range conditions. The elliptical shape of the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) can be picked up with excellent clarity, while the member stars of the Pleiades (Messier 45) sparkle like diamonds when viewed through the optical system. If you prefer to stay local, the moon’s rugged surface can be brought into breathtaking focus, while the rings of Saturn and belts of Jupiter are magnified to perfection.

Weighing in at 8.75 lbs (3.97 kg), the Celestron SkyMaster 25×100 is a touch on the heavy side, so for stable views we recommend purchasing a suitable tripod (check out our best tripods) to avoid shaky sights of night-sky targets. The binocular is supplied with an integrated tripod adapter and deluxe carry case. 

60% off the BlissLights Sky Lite Star Projector right now

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Completely transform your bedroom or living room for less than $20 with this perfect holiday gift for space lovers. Save a huge 60% on the original price of the BlissLight Sky Lite over at Walmart with this easy-to-use, button-controlled star projector which even has a six-hour timer for those that like to go to sleep to the ambient lighting.

We reviewed the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 earlier this year and gave it 3.5/5 stars because it was easy to use and gave decent ambient lighting, so we’re confident that the Sky Lite is a bargain star projector in this Black Friday deal.

Save 21% on the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ telescope

(Image credit: Celestron)

Save 21% on the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ refractor telescope which comes with an Alt-Az mount that is beginner-friendly. The telescope features a 70mm aperture and a 900mm focal length to provide good views of the moon and stars. 

Celestron is known for its excellent build quality and the telescope comes with two eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a fully collapsible lightweight tripod, a red dot finder scope and free access to the Starry Night software which is packed with information about 36,000 night sky objects to help newcomers learn about night sky objects. All this for under $150 makes this a Black Friday telescope deal worth having.

Sony A7R III is now discounted by $500

(Image credit: Sony)

Save more than 20% off in this Black Friday camera deal on the Sony A7R III. The mirrorless camera, known for its superb full-frame CMOS 42.4MP image sensor is now $500 off in this Amazon deal.

It’s perfect for astrophotography due to its extended ISO range (50-102,400) but it lends itself to many styles of photographers and videographers with a host of useful features like EyeAF autofocusing for sharp portraits, and 4K HDR video capture.

Editing is easy as well because the A7R III has up to 15 stops of dynamic range to retain detail in the brightest highlights and blackest shadows, meaning image files (or video) are flexible when editing in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Save 15% on Celestron’s iconic NexStar 8SE telescope

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Known the world over as one of the most iconic line of telescopes, the much-loved Celestron NexStar 8SE is now on sale with $200 for Black Friday over at Amazon and Adorama.

The line has been going since the 1970s but Celestron’s 8SE, the largest in the NexStar line-up, is truly exceptional. A Schmidt-Cassegrain design, this catadioptric telescope takes advantage of a hybrid technology between refractor and reflector telescope designs to provide a massive 2032 mm (80-inch) focal length and huge 203.2mm (8-inch) aperture in a tiny package.

Suitable for all kinds of astronomers it may not immediately be friendly to beginners but it has such breadth of use that, when paired with one of the best eyepieces, you can observe the moon, stars, planets, nebulas and more in exquisite detail.

Ultimate sharpness and incredibly bright, the NexStar 8SE ships with a red dot finderscope and a 25mm eyepiece — which you can upgrade as and when you’re ready to take astronomy to the next level.

20% off the Celestron PowerSeeker 70 AZ refractor telescope

(Image credit: Amazon)

Now under $100 the Celestron PowerSeeker 70 AZ refractor telescope is 20% off for Black Friday over on Amazon. This refractor telescope is ideally suited to beginners who want to view the lunar surface and nebulae. With a 70mm aperture, the telescope has a focal length of 700mm and ships with all the accessories you need to get started quickly.

Two eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) pair with a whopping 3x Barlow lens to magnify your night sky objects. An erect image diagonal means no more cricked necks trying to peer through the eyepiece. A 5×24 finderscope helps you locate night sky objects easily before fine-tuning through the eyepieces with more precision.

Celestron also bundles free access to the Starry Night software that gives information on 36,000 celestial objects for the uninitiated.

73% discount on this Astronaut star projector

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)

Save 73% on the Astronaut Starry Sky Star Projector. The projector is an astronaut that can be posed into different positions and projects stars through its visor. It has eight in-built nebula effects and the projector can be set to a timer for those using it to sleep. 

The ideal space gift, save a massive 73% in this Black Friday star projector deal which takes the price down to just $7.58. We said in our Astronaut space star projector review that anything under $35 is a bargain, so $7.58 is insane. It should suit any wall or ceiling thanks to the adjustable projection angle and we love it as an early holiday season gift.

What we like about the projector is its surprisingly good build quality, the fact it’s packed with impressive and effective lighting and its general appeal to all space fans, whether young or older.

Save 50% on a year of Paramount Plus – the home of Star Trek

(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Paramount’s Black Friday deal for its Paramount Plus streaming service is one of the best streaming deals we’ve found so far, offering a huge amount of content at a 50% discount. That equates to around $2 per month, and there are plenty of sci-fi shows to be found for your money.

Star Trek is the big one, with the entirety of the TV show’s 860 episodes to watch (as well as the movies), but there are newer sci-fi shows like videogame tie-in Halo, classic mystery thriller Twin Peaks, and The Twilight Zone reboot too.

Get 25% off these Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 binoculars

(Image credit: Celestron)

The Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 binoculars are currently discounted by 25% (opens in new tab), making them an excellent buy for budding skywatchers who want to view larger deep-sky objects.

Since our initial post about this deal yesterday, they have been reduced by a couple more dollars, but we expect this to be the lowest they will go.

You can read our Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15×70 binoculars review to get a feel for the version of the binos that are on sale, but note that these are slightly less rugged and not waterproof, unlike the pro version (which cost more than double). If you’re not planning on using your binos in inclement weather, for the price, these binoculars will see you right.

Because of the high magnification, you should invest in one of the best tripods so you don’t have to worry about wobble spoiling your views.

Once set up in the right conditions, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy and the bright Messier galaxies and nebulas based on the list drawn up by Charles Messier.

All-in-all, these binoculars will give users an enjoyable star and galaxy-gazing experience at a very reasonable price.

Get 50% off the HP Reverb G2 VR headset

(Image credit: HP)
  •  HP Reverb G2 VR Headset: Was $599 Now $299 at HP (opens in new tab) 

HP’s highly-rated VR headset, the Reverb G2, is one of the best VR headsets around. Better yet, the manufacturer has cut the price by 50%.  Right now, you can get the HP Reverb G2 headset for just $299 at HP (opens in new tab), down from the usual price of $599.

Unlike the Meta Quest 2, you will need a PC to connect to, but it offers a 2160×2160 resolution in each eye and excellent audio. For more, be sure to check out our HP Reverb G2 review where we awarded it 4-stars and noted how easy it is to set up.

That makes it ideal for a newcomer to VR, or to an experienced user looking to step up from the Meta Quest 2 or a PlayStation VR. With the G2’s lengthy, six-meter cable, it’s less restrictive than many wired headsets, too, and it’s comfortable for longer periods of time – perfect if you’re up to your eyeballs in No Man’s Sky VR.

Save a stellar 50% on the Lego Galaxy Explorer set

(Image credit: Lego)

We love a good Lego kit here at Space. In fact, the only thing we love more is a good Lego kit at half price which is exactly what we’ve found over at Walmart. You can get the Lego Galaxy Explorer set for just $50 (opens in new tab), reduced down from $100.

The Galaxy Explorer is a modern take on the classic 1979 Lego set of the same name, and it’s an impressive mash-up of retro-styling and modern design. It comes with 4 minifigures – 2 red and 2 white astronauts, and has a total of 1254 pieces, making it an involved, but not massive build.

We actually checked out the set earlier this year and gave it a perfect score of 5 stars (check out our Lego Galaxy Explorer review to see our full thoughts). We even compared it to the original model as our reviewer still had theirs.

We’re covering all the best Black Friday Lego deals on our main hub, so head over there for more savings on Star Wars, Space, and Marvel themed kits.

Hulu’s Black Friday deal is just $1.99 a month

(Image credit: Hulu)

There is no shortage of science fiction on streaming services right now and nowhere is that more true than at Hulu and right now you can get a year of Hulu for just $1.99 a month (opens in new tab), a 75% discount of its regular $7.99 fee. 

The Black Friday Hulu offer is not as deep a discount as the streaming service’s 2021 deal, which offered a year’s subscription at just 99 cents a month, but it’s still a bargain for fans of The Orville, Rick and Morty and other sci-fi shows that call Hulu home. After all, where else are you going to see the new Hulu original “Prey,” which is the latest entry in the Predator franchise?

Hulu is making this deal available primarily to new subscribers, but if you are a lapsed subscriber – and you have not used Hulu in the last month – you may be able to qualify for the offer. 

If you looking to save on a streaming service, but Hulu isn’t your cup of tea, you’re in luck. Our Black Friday streaming deals has a rundown of the offers available now. 

Save $200 on a DJI Mini 2 drone bundle

(Image credit: DJI)

If you’re just starting out on your drone journey, this early Black Friday deal is a great opportunity to land a beginner-friendly drone and save hundreds of dollars at the same time. 

DJI is a known for its quality drones and the DJI Mini 2 is one of oour favorite drones for beginners and experts alike. At $479, this DJI Mini 2 drone bundle is $200 off at Adorama (opens in new tab) and is the best price we’ve seen for Black Friday this year. The bundle is on sale for 29% off and comes with the drone, as well as a microSD card, carrying case and several other extras for your aerial or sky photography needs. 

As we noted in our DJI Mini 2 review, this drone is small enough (it weighs 249 grams) that it’s portable and lightweight, and also does not require you to register it for casual flying. You will need to check your local drone regulations, though. It carries a 12 MP camera for both still images and video and has about 23 minutes of flight time (according to our tests) before it returns home on a 25% battery life mark.

If you’re looking for more affordable drone ideas, check out our best drone deals and our beginners guide to drones and best drones features can help you pick the right machine if you need more tips.

Meta Quest 2 VR headsets are $70 off w/ free games

(Image credit: Amazon)

A good VR headset can transform a space experience on your computer into an immersive trip across the final frontier and this Meta Quest 2 deal from Amazon has the right stuff. 

You can save up to $70 off a Meta Quest 2 VR headset with a 259 GB capacity (opens in new tab), the highest storage capacity available now, and get two free games at the same time. This Black Friday Bundle comes with Resident Evil 4 VR and Beat Saber for free, and we’ve got a list of the best free space VR games to choose from once you’re set up. 

If 259 GB is a bit much, you can still save $50 on the Meta Quest 2 VR headset with 128 GB (opens in new tab), which also comes with the two free games. Both deals come with the Quest 2 headset (it was previously called the Oculus Quest 2, if it sounded familiar to you, and it’s a standalone device. You won’t need a game console or PC to pair it with, but it does link to PC if you’d like to try a PC VR title or two. 

The Meta Quest 2 includes features to keep you from bumping into obstacles, two Touch controllers and cameras to help orient yourself in a room. Its reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive, and we were also impressed when we tried it, too. Check out our Meta Quest 2 review for an in-depth look at the VR gear.

If the Meta Quest 2 isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, check out our other VR headset deals and our guide to the best VR headsets around.

Save 21% on the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ telescope

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ refractor telescope is currently at a discount of over 20% (opens in new tab) which makes a perfect gift for beginner astronomers this Black Friday. It features a 70mm aperture and a powerful 900mm focal length that takes you in for detailed lunar views. Not only that but thanks to the fully coated objective lens it’s ideal for land-based viewing as well: wildlife, landscapes and more are adequate subjects during the day.

At night though, the AstroMaster 70AZ benefits from fully coated optics to reduce optical aberrations associated with astronomy. The telescope also ships with everything you need to get started stargazing: a full-height tripod, two eyepieces, and a red dot finderscope to find your celestial objects before refining positioning through the eyepiece. During our Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ review we noted that the achromatic refractor avoids distracting ‘false color’ and is already good value, which is even more evident now given the discount. 

Suitable for adults but also easy enough to set up for younger astronomers and kids, the refractor weighs just 11 lbs (5 kg) so taking it out to dark sky locations, or just to get away from the city lights, is simple. The tripod also comes with a simple Alt-Az controlled tripod with a smooth panning handle to locate night sky objects quickly.

It requires no tools to set up and is one of the simplest telescopes in Celestron’s refractor range. Read our guide to the best telescopes if you want to shop around. Alternatively, check out our round-ups of the best telescopes for beginners, best telescopes for kids and snap up quick deals with budget telescopes under $500

Lego’s UCS Millennium Falcon is $100 off

(Image credit: Future)

The Millennium Falcon is an icon for science fiction fans around the world and when it comes to models, there is no higher crown jewel than the Lego Star Wars UCS Millennium Falcon set, which is on sale for $749.99 (opens in new tab), a full $100 off, at Zavvi this week. You’ll have to use the code SWFALCON at checkout to get the deal.

Released in 2017, the massive UCS Millennium Falcon set is part of Lego’s Ultimate Collectors Series. It is a massive building set with 7,541 pieces and measures 22 inches wide, 33 inches long and 8 inches tall (about 56 centimeters wide, 84 cm long and 20 cm tall). It also weighs a whopping 37 pounds (17 kilograms) but in our review of the UCS Millennium Falcon, my colleague Jordan Miller found it to be sturdy enough to move around once built with out fear of it crumbling apart.

This set does not go on sale often, and while last year Amazon did host a special lightning sale during Black Friday, the set sold out quickly and it is not currently expected to be back on sale at Amazon in 2022. We’re not sure how many sets Zavvi has available, so if this set has been on your Padawan’s gift list, you may want to act fast.

You can also see all of our best Lego Star Wars sets and our best Lego Star Wars deals to prepare for Black Friday. Our best Lego space deals has more familiar rocket  and other set deals from a galaxy closer to home.

Save $70 on the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ telescope

(Image credit: Amazon)

We first saw the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ telescope at $70 off on Amazon (opens in new tab) back in October during Amazon Prime Day but the deal is now back for Black Friday.

There’s already a $30 discount on the AstroMaster 114 EQ but save a further $40 off with the coupon (tick the box) and you’ll see this $70 saving at checkout. We’ve rated it as one of our best telescope deals currently available. However, if you want to see what else is available take a look at our guide to the best telescopes in 2022. 

This is a good telescope for beginners and those who don’t have much experience with skywatching. It’s easy to use and comes packed with accessories including two eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a full-height tripod and a StarPointer red dot finderscope. It also ships with software to support your stargazing experience. If you want to discover other skywatching gear and have a keen eye for deals, be sure to check out our guides to the best Celestron telescope and binocular deals,  best telescopes for beginners and budget telescopes under $500.

Nikon D850 camera now almost $900 off

(Image credit: Nikon)

This huge $900 discount on the Nikon D850 (opens in new tab) is the biggest saving we’ve seen on what we’ve rated as one of the best cameras for photos and videos and the best camera for astrophotography. Dropping it from $2,996.95 down to just $2,104.95, Walmart are currently offering the best deal on this DSLR camera.

Although a few years old now, it still competes with modern mirrorless cameras. We gave it 4.5/5 stars in our Nikon D850 review. It shoots stills photos at a whopping 45.4MP resolution and can capture 4KUHD 30p video which lends itself well to any photographer and videographer except those that require the latest 8K video res.

A superb generalist camera the Nikon D850 is amazingly good at everything. Astrophotography, sports, wildlife, portraiture, landscapes — you name it, the D850 can handle it.

Built like a tank and designed for professionals to throw around all day, it’s fully weather sealed so taking it out in the rain or snow won’t make it bat an eye.

B&H is also offering a $500 discount on the Nikon D850 (opens in new tab) and Amazon is currently matching that with their $500 Nikon D850 deal (opens in new tab) but we recommend you grab it from Walmart while stocks last to almost double your savings.

Hexeum night vision binoculars 53% off

(Image credit: Hexeum)

Hexeum may not be a household name when it comes to high-quality optics, but this deal caught the eye of our optics team because it’s simply too good to resist for people in love with the outdoors.

These Hexeum night vision binoculars are on sale for $139.98 at Amazon (opens in new tab), down from $298, and come with a 3x magnification and 4x digital zoom. While we haven’t been able to test them hands-on, their specifications are impressive enough to make them worth the risk when they’re at this price. 

Amazon does seem to like these night vision binoculars as we saw a similar deal during Amazon Prime Day this year. Check out our full analysis of this Hexeum night vision binoculars deal here for more.

If you’d rather shop around for other options, check out our guide to the best night vision binoculars. We also have a best binoculars guide for more traditional optics and you can save more with our best binocular deals. We’ve also rounded up some of the best compact binoculars and for children, we have the best binoculars for kids.

Save over £250 on the Celestron NexStar 4SE

(Image credit: Celestron)

With its iconic orange tube, the Celestron NexStar 4SE is a steal this Black Friday, with a whopping 33% off – that’s a discount of over £250 (opens in new tab) on the retail price!

The Celestron NexStar line of telescopes offer an exquisite GoTo capability, which ensures easy, seamless navigation of the night sky. At the touch of a button, beginners have the universe at their fingertips, while seasoned observers looking for a fuss free tour of a selection of targets can enjoy crystal clear views of the planets, rugged surface of the moon and bright deep-sky gems such as the Orion Nebula (Messier 42).

While the smallest in aperture of the NexStar suite, this computerized instrument offers excellent sights of a good proportion of the 40,000+ celestial objects stowed away in its database. It also comes fully equipped too, complete with a sturdy steel tripod, Star Pointer Red Dot Finderscope, The Sky Level 1 Astronomy Software, NexRemote Telescope Control software, a 25mm eyepiece, among other additional features that make this Maksutov-Cassegrain ideal for all ages and observing level.

If you’re looking for a larger aperture, then great news — the Celestron NexStar 5SE and Celestron NexStar 8SE have also been reduced this Black Friday, saving you $150 (opens in new tab)  or a little over $200 (opens in new tab)

Affinity Photo editing software $20 off this Black Friday

Affinity Photo image editing software is now $20 off in this Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal (opens in new tab).

Save almost 30% (opens in new tab) off this standalone image editing software and never pay Adobe for subscriptions again. One of the most powerful image editing software available, the benefit of Serif’s Affinity Photo is that you purchase the software in a single one-off payment and you can keep the software forever. No subscription!

Tempted to plunge into Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom but not sure about the monthly ongoing costs or high annual price? Serif Affinity Photo 1.10 (opens in new tab) may be the right image editing software for you. Full of features it can be used in the same way as Photoshop and will be more than ample for almost all photographers.

Non-destructive layer-based editing, RAW file processing and a full suite of photo editing tools are the mainstays of Affinity Photo but it doesn’t stop there. With a dedicated brush and engine library, it’s also useful for content creators that need to design graphics or want to manipulate photos and images for web and print use.

In our Serif Affinity Photo review the powerful image editing software got 4.5 out of 5 stars and we were impressed with its fast processing speeds and its flexibility when editing RAW files.

Image editors will be able to save time by accessing the main photo editing tools like automatic levels, adjustments to color and contrast or altering white balance in the software. Layering is possible to create composite images (ideal for astrophotography) and one of its strongest editing tools is the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature which, in other photo editing software can be a little too harsh giving an unrealistic finish to photos. But advanced control features like Tone Mapping, Compression, Contrast, Exposure and Saturation/Vibrance sliders aid fine-tuned control, perfect for landscape photos and astrophotos with landscapes in the foreground.

Be sure to check out Space.com’s Black Friday deals page, or our guide to the Best cameras for photos and videos, and Best cameras for astrophotography.

Prueba de la cámara SV305 PRO


Recientemente hemos podido probar la cámara de SVBONY SV305 PRO para astrofoto planetaria y guiado que incorpora algunas mejoras con respecto a la SV305 como es el puerto USB 3.0 que permite una mayor tasa de frames por segundo.

La caja de la SV305 pro incluye, además de la cámara , un cable USB 3.0 de 2m, un cable ST4, un anillo extensor de 1,25″ M28.5*0.6, un adaptador para filtros de tipo C, una tapa protectora de 1,25″, una toallita de limpieza, un manual impreso y el CD de instalación del software (bastante desactualizado por lo que recomiendo descargar la versión más reciente de la web de SVBONY).

Características de la SV305 PRO

Esta cámara a color de SVBONY incorpora el sensor SONY IMX290 que tan buenos resultados ha dado en cámaras planetarias. Se trata de un sensor de 2,9 micras con una diagonal de 6,5mm lo que nos da una resolución de 1920×1080 píxeles (2M pixels) con un ADC de 10/12 bits que se traducen en 8/12 bits de salida. El sensor va protegido de la intemperie por un cristal protector que no tiene corte en UV ni IR por lo que se recomienda la utilización de un filtro adicional para cortar estas bandas de emisión si hacemos imágenes en color. El filtro UV/IR cut de SVBONY nos ha dado unos resultados muy buenos anteriormente y ha demostrado sobradamente su valía para este propósito.

El sensor IMX290 protegido por el vidrio.

Es un sensor sensible y rápido al que se le saca mejor provecho con discos SSD en nuestro ordenador y que demanda una alta tasa de transferencia que solo se consigue con puertos USB 3.0. A máxima resolución ofrece hasta 130fps mientras que con un factor de recorte de 320×240 ofrece hasta 500fps.

Cuenta con un buffer de memoria de 128M, algo cortos con respecto a los 256M que ofrecen otros competidores que montan el mismo chipset.

Las pruebas

Tras varios días de espera debido al mal tiempo (el otoño es mala época astronómica) por fin se abrió una ventana para poder hacer una prueba un viernes por la tarde. Aunque el cielo estaba despejado el reciente paso de un frente que había dejado lluvias produjo algo de humedad ambiental que ante la llegada de un nuevo frente frío desplomaron las temperaturas hasta los 3ºC. Teníamos también presente algo de Jet Stream sobre la península por lo que sería una noche complicada para sacar el máximo partido al equipo utilizado: un Celestron SC8″ sobre montura SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6. En el tren óptico usamos también el enfocador Auriga, un ADC de ZWO (Svbony tiene uno exáctamente igual, al menos estéticamente) y el filtro UV-IR cut de Svbony junto a una Barlow x2 de Baader.

Tuvimos que esperar más de 1 hora y media a que el tubo se aclimatara y desaparecieran las molestas «plumas térmicas» pero incluso con el tubo aclimatado la imagen de Júpiter era difícil de enfocar debido a la gran turbulencia atmosférica.

Saqué varios vídeos de Júpiter en los que pude comprobar que la cámara ofrecía una buena tasa de fps. Lástima que la turbulencia atmosférica impidiera sacar una imagen más nítida.

Estuve esperando un par de horas más pero la situación no mejoraba con momentos así que antes de finalizar la sesión decidí apuntar a Marte para no irme con las manos vacías a sabiendas de que no conseguiría buenos resultados.

Una pena de nuevo no conseguir mejor resolución debido a la inestabilidad atmosférica porque se podrían apreciar más detalles de Mare Sirenum y el Monte Olimpo.

En general la cámara me ha gustado mucho, ha funcionado correctamente desde el primer momento (anteriormente me habían enviado la SV305 que presentó problemas técnicos y no funcionó). Tiene un precio bastante contenido aunque eso se nota en los acabados con mayor cantidad de plástico que en otros modelos de competidores. Es una cámara algo voluminosa para su peso lo que puede ser un inconveniente si la usamos como cámara de guiado.

Las pruebas las realizamos con Firecapture aunque funciona también con Sharpcap y otros programas compatibles. La respuesta a los controles de ganancia y color es acorde a otros modelos de cámaras similares.

En general estamos ante una cámara muy adecuada para astrofoto planetaria si queremos empezar a hacer cosas «serias» sin gastarnos mucho dinero. No tiene nada que ver con el modelo SV205 que se orienta a usuarios de iniciación que quieren dar sus primeros pasos, aquí ya podemos exprimir un sensor con unas excelentes capacidades.

40% off the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey tripod

‘3 Legged Thing’ has been a respected UK-based tripod manufacturer since 2008. It revolutionized tripods with color, and beautifully engineered components and introduced the first travel tripod in the world that could extend to over 2m tall. The prototype ‘Brian’ features in our best tripods guide thanks to its excellent build quality and portability. 

Corey, which we have here with an $80 discount and being offered for a generous $119.99 (opens in new tab), is slightly smaller but a little heavier when fully extended than Brian is. This is why Brian trumped Corey to make it to our ‘best of’ list. But if a height of 59″/1.5m is tall enough for you — why wouldn’t it be as an astrophotographer — and you can deal with the 0.4lbs extra weight, the current 40% discount on Amazon (opens in new tab) means you are getting an excellent deal.

The original 3 Legged Thing’s Punks Corey (opens in new tab) has been superseded by the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey 2.0 (opens in new tab), which costs almost double, despite having a 10% discount today. 

That said, despite the upgrades of the more recent model, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey is not a tripod to be overlooked, don’t forget, it can fold down to just 34 cm long!

Portable/travel tripods can often feel flimsy and plasticky. Corey is anything but. The magnesium alloy feels solid and rugged; it is built to last. Not to mention, everything about it is satisfyingly tactile. The ball head, which, again, can feel cheap and loose on some entry-level models, moves beautifully and feels like it belongs on a much more premium product, as does the smooth panning and panning lock.

The 3 Legged Thinks Punks Corey has a load-to-weight ratio of 9:1 (meaning it can support loads up to 9 times its weight). With a 30 lb/14 kg payload, it is one of the strongest tripods in its class and should be able to comfortably support your best astrophotography camera with ease.

Finally, as with all 3 Legged Things products, the Corey comes with a five-year global warranty for extra peace of mind.

Be sure to check out Space.com’s Black Friday deals page, or our guide to the Best Tripods.

A Comparison of Noise Reduction Programs for Astrophotography

In this detailed technical article, I compare six AI-based noise reduction programs for the demands of astrophotography. Some can work wonders. Others can ruin your image.

Over the last two years, we have seen a spate of specialized programs introduced for removing digital noise from photos. The new generation of programs uses artificial intelligence (AI), AKA machine learning, trained on thousands of images to better distinguish unwanted noise from desirable image content.

At least that’s the promise – and for noisy but normal daytime images they do work very well.

But in astrophotography, our main subjects – stars – can look a lot like specks of pixel-level noise. How well can each program reduce noise without eliminating stars or wanted details, or introducing odd artifacts, making images worse?

To find out, I tested six of the new AI-based programs on real-world – or rather “real-sky” – astrophotos. Does one program stand out from the rest for astrophotography?

Note: All the images are full-resolution JPGs you can tap or click on to download for detailed inspection.

TL;DR Summary

The new AI-trained noise reduction programs can indeed eliminate noise better than older non-AI programs while leaving fine details untouched or even sharpening them.

  • Of the group tested, the winner for use on just star-filled images is a specialized program for astrophotography, NoiseXTerminator from RC-Astro.
  • For nightscapes and other images, Topaz DeNoise AI performed well, better than it did in earlier versions that left lots of patchy artifacts, something AI programs can be prone to.
  • While ON1’s new NoNoise AI 2023 performed fine, it proved slightly worse in some cases than its earlier 2022 version. Its new sharpening routine needs work.
  • Other new programs, notably Topaz Photo AI and Luminar’s Noiseless AI, also need improvement before they are ready to be used for the rigors of astrophotography.
  • For reasons explained below, I would not recommend DxO’s PureRAW2.
The three test images in Adobe Camera Raw showing the Basic settings applied.


As described below, while some of the programs can be used as stand-alone applications, I tested them all as plug-ins for Photoshop, applying each as a smart filter applied to a developed raw file brought into Photoshop as a Camera Raw smart object.

Most of these programs state that better results might be obtainable by using the stand-alone app on original raw files. But for my personal workflow I prefer to develop the raw files with Adobe Camera Raw, then open those into Photoshop for stacking and layering, applying any further noise reduction or sharpening as non-destructive smart filters.

Many astrophotographers also choose to stack unedited original images with specialized stacking software, then apply further noise reduction and editing later in the workflow. So my workflow and test procedures reflect that.

However, the exception is DxO’s PureRAW2. It can work only on raw files as a stand-alone app, or as a plug-in from Adobe Lightroom. It does not work as a Photoshop plug-in. I tested PureRAW2 by dropping raw Canon .CR3 files onto the app, then exporting the results as raw DNG files, but with the same settings applied as with the other raw files. For the nightscape and wide-field images taken with lenses in DxO’s extensive database, I used PureRAW’s lens corrections, not Adobe’s.

As shown above, I chose three representative images:

  • A nightscape with star trails and a detailed foreground, at ISO 1600.
  • A wide-field deep-sky image at ISO 1600 with an 85mm lens, with very tiny stars.
  • A close-up deep-sky image taken with a telescope and at a high ISO of 3200, showing thermal noise hot pixels.

Each is a single image, not a stack of multiple images.

Before applying the noise reduction, the raw files received just basic color corrections and a contrast boost to emphasize noise all the more.

The Contenders

In the test results for the three images, I show the original raw image, plus a version with noise reduction and sharpening applied using Adobe Camera Raw’s own sliders, with luminance noise at 40, color noise at 25, and sharpening at 25.

I use this as a base comparison, as it has been the noise reduction I have long applied to images. However, ACR’s routine (also found in Adobe Lightroom) has not changed in years. It is good, but it is not AI.

The new smart AI programs should improve upon this. But do they?

Please note:

  • I have refrained from providing prices and explaining buying options, as frankly, some can be complex!
  • For those details and for trial copies, go to the software’s website by clicking on the link in the header product names below.
  • All programs are available for Windows and macOS. I tested the latter versions.
  • I have not provided tutorials on how to use the software; I have just reported on their results. For troubleshooting their use, please consult the software company in question.
ON1 NoNoise 2023’s control interface.

ON1’s main product is the Lightroom/Photoshop alternative program called ON1 Photo RAW, which is updated annually to major new versions. It has full cataloging options like Lightroom and image layering like Photoshop. Its Edit module contains the NoNoise AI routine. But NoNoise AI can be purchased as a stand-alone app that also installs as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop. It’s what I tested here. The latest 2023 version of NoNoise AI added ON1’s new Tack Sharp AI sharpening routine.

Version tested: 17.0.1

Topaz DeNoise AI’s four-pane view to select the best AI model.

This program has proven very popular and has been adopted by many photographers – and astrophotographers – as an essential part of an editing workflow. It performs noise reduction only, offering a choice of five AI models. Auto modes can choose the models and settings for you based on the image content, but you can override those by adjusting the strength, sharpness, and recovery of original detail as desired.

A separate program, Topaz Sharpen AI, is specifically for image sharpening, but I did not test it here. Topaz Gigapixel AI is for image resizing.

Version tested: 3.7.0

Topaz Photo AI’s control interface for its three main functions: noise, sharpening and upscaling.

In 2022 Topaz introduced this new program which incorporates the trio of noise reduction, sharpening, and image resizing in one package. Like DeNoise, Sharpen, and Gigapixel, Photo AI works as a stand-alone app or as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop. Photo AI’s Autopilot automatically detects and applies what it thinks the image needs. While it is possible to adjust settings, Photo AI offers much less control than DeNoise AI and Topaz’s other single-purpose programs.

As of this writing in November 2022, Photo AI is enjoying almost weekly updates and seems to be where Topaz is focusing its development and marketing efforts.

Version tested: 1.0.9

Luminar Neo’s Edit interface with choices of many filters and effects, including Noiseless AI.

Unlike the other noise reduction programs tested here, Luminar Neo from the software company Skylum is a full-featured image editing program, with an emphasis on one-click AI effects. One of those is the new Noiseless AI, available as an extra-cost extension to the main Neo program, either as a one-time purchase or by annual subscription. Noiseless AI cannot be purchased on its own. However, Neo with most of its extensions does work as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop.

Being new, Luminar Neo is also updated frequently, with more extensions coming in the next few months.

Version tested: 1.5.0

DxO PureRAW’s simple interface with few choices for Noise Reduction settings.

Like ON1, DxO makes a full-featured alternative to Adobe’s Lightroom for cataloging and raw development called DxO PhotoLab, in version 6 as of late 2022. It contains DxO’s Prime and DeepPrime noise reduction routines. However, as with ON1, DxO has spun off just the noise reduction and lens correction parts of PhotoLab into a separate program, PureRAW2, which runs either as a stand-alone app or as a plug-in for Lightroom – but not Photoshop, as PureRAW works only on original raw files.

Unlike all the other programs, PureRAW2 offers essentially no options to adjust settings, just the option to apply, or not, lens corrections, and to choose the output format. For this testing, I applied DeepPrime and exported out to DNG files.

Version tested: 2.2

Noise Terminator’s controls allow adjusting strength and detail.

Unlike the other programs tested, NoiseXTerminator from astrophotographer Russell Croman is designed specifically for deep-sky astrophotography. It installs as a plug-in for Photoshop or Affinity Photo, but not Lightroom. It is also available under the same purchased license as a “process” for PixInsight, an advanced program popular with astrophotographers, as it is designed just for editing deep-sky images.

I tested the Photoshop plug-in version of Noise XTerminator. It receives occasional updates to both the actual plug-in and separate updates to the AI module.

Version tested: 1.1.2, AI model 2

Nightscape Test

As with the other test images, the panels show a highly magnified section of the image, indicated in the inset. I shot the image of Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta with a Canon RF15-35mm lens on a 45-megapixel Canon R5 camera at ISO 1600.

The test results on a sample nightscape.
  • Adobe Camera Raw’s basic noise reduction did a good job, but like all general routines it does soften the image as a by-product of smoothing out high-ISO noise.
  • ON1 NoNoise 2023 retained landscape detail better than ACR but softened the star trails, despite my adding sharpening. It also produced a somewhat patchy noise smoothing in the sky. This was with Luminosity backed off to 75 from the auto setting (which always cranks up the level to 100 regardless of the image) and with the Tack Sharp routine set to 40 with Micro Contrast at 0. It left a uniform pixel-level mosaic effect in the shadow areas. Despite the new Tack Sharp option, the image was softer than with last year’s NoNoise 2022 version (not shown here as it is no longer available) which produced better shadow results.
  • Topaz DeNoise AI did a better job than NoNoise retaining the sharp ground detail while smoothing noise, always more obvious in the sky in such images. Even so, it also produced some patchiness, with some areas showing more noise than others. This was with the Standard model set to 40 for Noise and Sharpness, and Recover Details at 75. I show the other model variations below.
  • Topaz Photo AI did a poor job, producing lots of noisy artifacts in the sky and an over-sharpened foreground riddled with colorful speckling. It added noise. This was with the Normal setting and the default Autopilot settings.
  • Noiseless AI in Luminar Neo did a decent job smoothing noise while retaining, indeed sharpening ground detail without introducing ringing or colorful edge artifacts. The sky was left with some patchiness and uneven noise smoothing. This was with the suggested Middle setting (vs Low and High) and default levels for Noise, Detail, and Sharpness. However, I do like Neo (and Skylum’s earlier Luminar AI) for adding other finishing effects to images such as Orton glows.
  • DxO PureRAW2 did smooth noise very well while enhancing sharpness quite a lot, almost too much, though it did not introduce obvious edge artifacts. Keep in mind it offers no chance to adjust settings, other than the mode – I used DeepPrime vs the normal Prime. Its main drawback is that in making the conversion back to a raw DNG image it altered the appearance of the image, in this case darkening the image slightly. It also made some faint star trails look wiggly!
  • Noise XTerminator really smoothed out the sky and did so very uniformly without doing much harm to the star trails. However, it smoothed out ground detail unacceptably, not surprising given its specialized training on stars, not terrestrial content.

Conclusion: For this image, I’d say Topaz DeNoise AI did the best, though not perfect, job.

This was surprising, as tests I did with earlier versions of DeNoise AI showed it leaving many patchy artifacts and colored edges in places. Frankly, I was put off using it. However, Topaz has improved DeNoise AI a lot.

Why it works so well, when Topaz’s newer program Photo AI works so poorly, is hard to understand. Surely they use the same AI code? Apparently not. Photo AI’s noise reduction is not the same as DeNoise AI.

Similarly, ON1’s NoNoise 2023 did a worse job than their older 2022 version. One can assume its performance will improve with updates. The issue seems to be with the new Tack Sharp addition.

NoiseXTerminator might be a good choice for reducing noise in just the sky of nightscape images. It is not suitable for foregrounds.

Wide-Field Image Test

I shot this image of Andromeda and Triangulum with an 85mm Rokinon RF lens on the 45-megapixel Canon R5 on a star tracker. Stars are now points, with small ones easily mistaken for noise. Let’s see how the programs handle such an image, zooming into a tiny section showing the galaxy Messier 33.

The test results on a sample wide-field deep-sky image.

Conclusion: The clear winner was NoiseXTerminator.

Topaz DeNoise was a respectable second place, performing better than it had done on such images in earlier versions. Even so, it did alter the appearance of faint stars which might not be desirable.

ON1 NoNoise 2023 also performed quite well, with its softening of brighter stars yet sharpening of fainter ones perhaps acceptable, even desirable for an effect.

Telescopic Deep-Sky Test

I shot this image of the NGC 7822 complex of nebulosity with a SharpStar 61mm refractor, using the red-sensitive 30-megapixel Canon Ra and with a narrowband filter to isolate the red and green light of the nebulas.

Again, the test image is a single raw image developed only to re-balance the color and boost the contrast. No dark frames were applied, so the 8-minute exposure at ISO 3200 taken on a warm night shows thermal noise as single “hot pixel” white specks.

The test results on a sample deep-sky close-up.
  • Adobe Camera Raw did a good job smoothing the worst of the noise, suppressing the hot pixels but only by virtue of it softening all of the image slightly at the pixel level. However, it leaves most stars intact.
  • ON1 NoNoise 2023 also did a good job smoothing noise while also seeming to boost contrast and structure slightly. But as in the wide-field image, it did smooth out star images a little, though somewhat photogenically, while still emphasizing the faintest stars. This was with no sharpening applied and Luminosity at 60, down from the default 100 NoNoise applies without fail. One wonders if it really is analyzing images to produce optimum settings. With no Tack Sharp sharpening applied, the results on this image with NoNoise 2023 looked identical to NoNoise 2022.
  • Topaz DeNoise AI did another good job smoothing noise while leaving most stars unaffected. However, the faintest stars and hot pixels were sharpened to be more visible tiny specks, perhaps too much, even with Sharpening at its lowest level of 1 in Standard mode. Low Light and Severe modes produced worse results, with lots of mottling and unevenness in the background. Unlike NoNoise, at least its Auto settings do vary from image to image, giving you some assurance it really is responding to the image content.
  • Topaz Photo AI again produced unusable results. Its Normal modes produced lots of mottled texture and haloed stars. Its Strong mode shown here did smooth noise better, but still left lots of uneven artifacts, as DeNoise AI did in its early days. It certainly seems like Photo AI is using old hand-me-down code from DeNoise AI.
  • Noiseless AI in Luminar Neo did smooth noise but unevenly, leaving lots of textured patches. Stars had grainy halos and the program increased contrast and saturation, adjustments usually best left for specific adjustment layers dedicated to the task.
  • DxO PureRAW2 did smooth noise very well, including wiping out the faintest specks from hot pixels, but it also wiped out the faintest stars, I think unacceptably and more than other programs like DeNoise AI. For this image, it did leave basic brightness alone, likely because it could not apply lens corrections to an image taken with unknown optics. However, it added an odd pixel-level mosaic-like effect on the sky background, again unacceptable.
  • Noise XTerminator did a great job smoothing random noise without affecting any stars or the nebulosity. The Detail level of 20 I used actually emphasized the faintest stars, but also the hot pixel specks. NoiseXTerminator can’t be counted on to eliminate thermal noise; that demands the application of dark frames and/or using dithering routines to shift each sub-frame image by a few pixels when autoguiding the telescope mount. Even so, Noise XTerminator is so good users might not need to take and stack as many images.

Conclusion: Again, the winner was NoiseXTerminator.

Deep-sky photographers have praised “NoiseX” for its effectiveness, either when applied early on in a PixInsight workflow or, as I do in Photoshop, as a smart filter to the base stacked image underlying other adjustment layers.

Topaz DeNoise is also a good choice as it can work well on many other types of images. But again, play with its various models and settings. Pixel peep!

ON1 NoNoise 2023 did put in a respectable performance here, and it will no doubt improve – it had been out less than a month when I ran these tests.

Based on its odd behavior and results in all three test images I would not recommend DxO’s PureRAW2. Yes, it reduces noise quite well, but it can alter tone and color in the process, and add strange pixel-level mosaic artifacts.

Comparing DxO and Topaz Options

DxO and Topaz DeNoise AI offer the most choices of AI models and strength of noise reduction. Here I compare:

  • Topaz DeNoise AI on the nightscape image using three of its models: Standard (which I used in the comparisons above), plus Low Light, and Severe. These show how the other models didn’t do as good a job.
  • The set below also compares DeNoise AI to Topaz’s other program, Photo AI, to show how poor a job it is doing in its early form. Its Strong mode does smooth noise but over-sharpens and leaves edge artifacts. Yes, Photo AI is one-click and easy to use, but produces bad results – at least on astrophotos.
Comparing DeNoise’s and Photo AI’s different model settings.

As of this writing DxO’s PureRAW2 offers the Prime and newer DeepPrime AI models – I used DeepPrime for my tests.

However, DxO’s more expensive and complete image processing program, PhotoLab 6, also offers the even newer DeepPrimeXD model, which promises to preserve or recover even more “Xtra Detail” over the DeepPrime model. As of this writing, the XD mode is not offered in PureRAW2. Perhaps that will wait for PureRAW3, no doubt a paid upgrade.

Comparing DxO’s various Prime model settings. DeepPrimeXD is only in PhotoLab 6.
  • The set above compares the three noise reduction models of DxO’s PhotoLab 6. DeepPrime does do a better job than Prime. DeepPrimeXD does indeed sharpen detail more, but in this example it is too sharp, showing artifacts, especially in the sky where it is adding structures and textures that are not real.
  • However, when used from within PhotoLab 6, the DeepPrime noise reduction becomes more usable. PhotoLab is then being used to perform all the raw image processing, so PureRAW’s alteration of color and tone is not a concern. Conversely, it can also output raw DNGs with only noise reduction and lens corrections applied, essentially performing the same tasks as PureRAW. If you have PhotoLab, you don’t need PureRAW.

Comparing AI to Older Non-AI Programs

The new generation of AI-based programs has garnered all the attention, leaving older stalwart noise reduction programs looking a little forlorn and forgotten.

Here I compare Camera Raw and two of the best AI programs, Topaz DeNoise AI and NoiseXTerminator, with two of the most respected of the “old-school” non-AI programs:

Nik Dfine2’s control interface.
  • Dfine2, included with the Nik Collection of plug-ins sold by DxO (shown above), and
  • Reduce Noise v9 sold by Neat Image (shown below).
Neat Image’s Reduce Noise control interface – the simple panel.

I tested both by using them in their automatic modes, where they analyze a section or sections of the image and adjust the noise reduction accordingly, but then apply that setting uniformly across the entire image. However, both allow manual adjustments, with Neat Image’s Reduce Noise offering a bewildering array of technical adjustments.

How do these older programs stack up to the new AI generation? Here are comparisons using the same three test images.

Comparing results with Neat Image and Nik Dfine2 on the nightscape test image.

In the nightscape image, Nik Dfine2 and Neat Image’s Reduce Noise did well, producing uniform noise reduction with no patchiness. But the results weren’t significantly better than with Adobe Camera Raw’s built-in routine. Like ACR, both non-AI programs did smooth detail in the ground, compared to DeNoise AI which sharpened the mountain details.

Comparing results with Neat Image and Nik Dfine2 on the wide-field test image.

In the tracked wide-field image, the differences were harder to distinguish. None performed up to the standard of Noise XTerminator, with both Nik Dfine2 and Neat Image softening stars a little compared to DeNoise AI.

Comparing results with Neat Image and Nik Dfine2 on the deep-sky test image.

In the telescopic deep-sky image, all programs did well, though none matched NoiseXTerminator. None eliminated the hot pixels. But Nik Dfine2 and Neat Image did leave wanted details alone and did not alter or eliminate desired content. However, they also did not eliminate noise as well as did Topaz DeNoise AI or NoiseXTerminator.

The AI technology does work!

Your Results May Vary

I should add that the nature of AI means that the results will certainly vary from image to image.

In addition, with many of these programs offering multiple models and settings for strength and sharpening, results even from the same program can be quite different. In this testing, I used either the program’s auto defaults or backed off those defaults where I thought the effect was too strong and detrimental to the image.

Software is also a constantly moving target. Updates will alter how these programs perform, and we hope for the better. For example, two days after I published this test, ON1 updated NoNoise AI to v17.0.2 with minor fixes and improvements.

And do remember I’m testing on astrophotos and pixel peeping to the extreme. Rave reviews claiming how well even the poor performers here work on “normal” images might well be valid.

This is all by way of saying, your mileage may vary!

So don’t take my word for it. Most programs (Luminar Neo is an exception) are available as free trial copies to test out on your astro-images and in your preferred workflow. Test for yourself. But do pixel peep. That’s where you’ll see the flaws.

What About Adobe?

In the race for AI supremacy, one wonders where Adobe is in the field.

In the last couple of years, Adobe has introduced several amazing and powerful “Neural Filters” into Photoshop, which work wonders with one click. And Lightroom and Camera Raw have received powerful AI-based selection and masking tools far ahead of most of the competition, with only Luminar Neo and ON1 Photo RAW coming close with similar auto-select capabilities.

Neural network Noise Reduction is coming to Photoshop. One day!

But AI noise reduction? You would think it would be a high priority.

A neural filter for Noise Reduction is on Adobe’s Wait List for development, so perhaps we will see something in the next few months from Adobe to compete with the AI offerings of Topaz, ON1, and Luminar/Skylum.

Until then we have lots of choices for third-party programs that all improve with every update. I hope this review has helped you make a choice.

About the author: Alan Dyer is an astronomy photography and author. You can find more of his work and writing at his website, The Amazing Sky. This article was also published here.