Ho, ho, ho! Gift ideas for stargazers in 2023

OK, so you have someone on your holiday gift list that loves the stars. What to do, what to do… Don’t despair, here’s my annual WTOP “Gift Ideas For Stargazers.”

Internet shopping and quick shipping can get that star-minded someone their gift fairly quickly with very little hassle — even if that someone is yourself.

Monthly Magazine Subscription

As a first step for someone new to astronomy, I recommend getting them a magazine subscription to either (or both)  Astronomy or Sky and Telescope (S&T). An added bonus is that when the magazine arrives each month it will be a reminder of you to that special stargazer. Astronomy and S&T also provide a digital version bundled with the print subscription, which comes in handy.  These monthly magazines and their respective websites are chockfull of observing advice, astronomical equipment, pictures, book reviews, astronomy related ads, news and even monthly observing guides/star charts.

For full disclosure I am an S&T subscriber and have been my whole life; I have also done major feature articles for them and been a total solar eclipse cruise S&T staff member. S&T is owned by the American Astronomical Society.

Solar Eclipse 2024

With the upcoming April 8, 2024 solar eclipse, visible across almost the entire U.S., plan ahead and buy eclipse-safe glasses and some light reading material. Don’t forget to pick up a pair of solar filters for yourself too, as the DMV will see a very deep partial eclipse of the Sun.

Astronomical Calendar

This is a nifty gift idea that provides your stargazer astronomical information on a daily basis accompanied by a beautiful and informative astronomical image. These can be used at work or at home. Two I recommend are this one by Astronomy featuring “mysteries of deep space” and the options offered by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

For the best daily coverage of the sky, my gold Standard is the 2024 Observer’s Handbook. 


There is a literary universe of astronomy and space related books out there. You’re likely familiar with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, who offer a wide selection of choices, but you could also try BookShop to support smaller local booksellers.

If you know what piques your stargazer’s interest you can try and buy a book. But I recommend giving them a gift card that they can use to buy a book of their choice. You may want to browse these websites in advance to make sure the gift card has a sufficient value to cover these usually expensive books. This has been a tried and true present to me from family members for decades. 


For a truly out of this world gift you can buy an actual space rock (or more realistically, a piece of one) from the asteroid belt, the Moon or even Mars. I have been a meteorite collector for many years. Truth be told, your avid stargazer is probably frustrated at times with our cloudy weather. Nothing cures this frustration better than holding a piece of the solar system and contemplating where it came from and how it got to Earth. 

When buying these amazing 4.5 billion-year-old rocks, you need to know your dealer. New England Meteoritical Services has what I consider to be the best and most reasonably-priced presentation sets for purchase which you can see when you scroll down their webpage. I have personally dealt with them and I highly recommend them. There are other online dealers you can also trust that are members of the International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA). Beware buying in the blind!


A great sock stuffer is a space themed movie. The Star Trek movies (new and old), Gravity, Europa Report, Cosmos the Series (original or new versions), The Martian, Interstellar, or any of the space-themed offerings from National Geographic, Science Channel, Discovery Channel or the History Channel are excellent.


If you have a budding stargazer that wants to see more of the sky than the naked eye allows, quality binoculars are the ticket. A whole new view of the sky becomes possible — and as an added bonus they can be used in daytime for bird watching and sporting events.

A good pair of binoculars will show impressive detail on the Moon, a few galaxies, star clusters and nebulae (you need to know where to look) and (if you hold them steady enough) the four major moons of Jupiter. Star colors are richer in binoculars and very pretty to look at.

I recommend “7×50” binoculars — the 7 refers to the magnification while the 50 is the size of each objective lens in millimeters. This is a good compromise between magnification, light gathering ability and field of view. Less magnification means less detail but a wider field of view; more magnification reduces field of view while giving more detail. I would not go higher than an 8 in magnification or lower than 50 in objective size for a beginner. There are larger astrobinoculars out there, but they are best for advanced users.

You can buy binoculars at sporting goods stores and all of the major chains like Costco, Walmart and Amazon. A good online store that I have used for many years is Orion Telescopes. They have an excellent assortment, stand by their products and great customer service. They also have extensive descriptions and background information on types of binoculars and how to choose a pair.


This is the riskiest gift idea on my list. There is nothing quite like getting that first telescope and experiencing “first light” — the first view of the sky through it. But it is risky, because telescopes are an investment, in money and in longevity. There is nothing worse than buying a ‘scope that never gets used because it is too complicated, too heavy or of poor quality — they inevitably collect dust from disuse.

With the right purchase, there is no reason why a quality telescope will not last a person’s entire lifetime, or at least a good portion of it. Many nights of enjoyment and discovery at the eyepiece of a good telescope are pure joy to your stargazer. If this is a family member or significant other, you might even do your telescope observing together.

There are many telescopes out there and to pick just the right one for your stargazer is a real shot in the dark, so to speak, unless you have “insider information”. If your astronomer has spent time studying telescopes and selecting a “final one” and letting you know it — go for it. Otherwise, make sure there is a return policy that allows you to get your money back if things don’t work out.

My recommendation for first telescopes is this. Put together a gift package or card that says that you will bankroll the purchase of a new telescope (I recommend setting a price limit as telescopes can cost thousands of dollars) after a selection process has determined the best telescope to buy.

Here are some online sources you can look over to help you in your selection. Sky & Telescope, Astronomy and Orion Telescopes all have sections on how to select a telescope and there are books on the subject as well.

Going to a local astronomy club or attending a star party can also provide an opportunity to “test drive” different types of telescopes. We have some great resources here in the DMV to do just this — refer to the Astronomical League list for your area. 

Telescope technology has progressed to a point where we now have smart telescopes compatible with apps on your smartphone and tablet. These are amazing telescopes that literally do everything for you except physically setting them up and turning them on. They are expensive but they incorporate all you need to take astro-photographs with a click.

I have used and own a Unistellar smart telescope and I love it. I observed and photographed more sky objects in the first few months using them than I had using other telescopes in 50+ years previously. I was able to find and photograph spacecraft, comets, planets, deep sky objects, stars with astounding ease and results. Full disclosure: I am a Global Ambassador for Unistellar, but it is a non-pay position and I am not beholden to the company as a sales representative. I am telling you like it is for me and 10,000 other world-wide Unistellar users.

To complement my Unistellar telescope, I just purchased a new and much smaller Smart Telescope, the Seestar S50. I bought it for its small size (portable for cruise ship trips), larger coverage of the sky, and use as a daytime ultra-telephoto lens. I am impressed with my first images taken with it.

I hope this has helped you on your out of this world holiday shopping. Drop me a Tweet or email if you have any questions.

Happy Holidays and clear skies. 

Follow me on X @SkyGuyinVAFacebook and check out my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration.

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