Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review: Get up close and personal with the sun

Perfect magnification and rugger design make the Lunt SUNocular 8x32 THE binocular for solar eclipses and sunspots

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review
(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)
T3 Verdict

The Lunt SUNocular 8x32 solar eclipse binoculars offer something that most similar products don’t by having enough magnification to impress without becoming big and bulky. Add a rugged, weatherproof design and lens caps that are impossible to lose, and they become the best solar eclipse binoculars around.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Excellent build quality

  • +

    Lightweight and portable

  • +

    Sharp, bright views of the sun

  • +

    Good quality neck strap

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Some glare around sun

  • -

    Slight colour fringing

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This Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review comes as North America is about to welcome not one but two solar eclipses. On October 14, 2023, a so-called ‘ring of fire’ annular solar eclipse will move through eight U.S. states from Oregon through Texas. It’s essentially a pretty partial solar eclipse for which solar eclipse filters are needed the entire time. Then on April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will strike Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

Anyone in the narrow path of totality will have a chance to see the eclipsed sun naked-eye for a few minutes as it goes dark during the day. However, most of the time during a solar eclipse, the action is the moon moving across the disk of the sun, something which is dangerous to look at unless you have something like the Lunt SUNocular 8x32 in front of your eyes. 

Here’s everything you need to know about these solar binoculars and why they’re ideal for the solar eclipses coming up in both North America (2023, 2024) and later in Europe (2026, 2027 and 2028). Read on for my full Lunt SUNocular 8x32 solar eclipse binoculars review, or check out TT3'sbest binocular and best monocular guides for more options.

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review: price and release date

Lunt first introduced its SUNocular range in 2016, ahead of the most recent total solar eclipse in North America in 2017. As well as the SUNocular 8x32, which sells for around $129/ £178, Lunt also offers the much smaller and more affordable SUNocular-Mini 6x30, which goes for around $25/ £33. Both are roof-prism binoculars with built-in glass solar filters.

While the SUNocular-Mini 6x30 is aimed at kids and good only for a casual glance at the sun during an eclipse, the SUNocular 8x32 is for those that want to see sunspots on the surface of the sun, so they’re the best choice if you want to use them beyond a solar eclipse. Both models come in red, yellow, blue and black.

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review: specifications

  • Magnification: 8x
  • Objective diameter: 32mm
  • Prism type: Roof
  • Eyecups: Adjustable
  • Eye relief: 13.6mm / 0.54
  • Weight: 570g / 20.1oz
  • Dimensions: 163 x 135 x 61mm / 6.4 x 5.3 x 2.4"

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)

Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 review: design and features

These solar eclipse binoculars exist solely for convenience. In practice, you could attach solar filters to any binoculars and use them to watch the partial phases of a solar eclipse – and then also point them at the sun on any normal day. However, solar filters can be expensive and fiddly. On the Lunt SUNoculars 8x32, they’re built-in. 

Equipped with 8x magnification and 32mm objective lenses, the Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 are designed to be portable, something hugely helped by the use of roof prism optics. Other features include lens caps that are attached around the objective lenses, twist-up eyecups and neck strap eyelets. In the box is a good quality neckstrap, a sturdy pouch and a figure-of-eight eyecup cover.

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)

Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 review: build quality and handling

There are no other solar binoculars we know of with such impressive build quality. Using the roof prism optical arrangement helps with portability, with two barrels in a folding design that helps keep everything compact for travel. Those barrels are covered by a ridged rubberized covering that’s easy to grip and protects against knocks. 

During use, we loved the smooth focus wheel, which has a little resistance so can’t be easily knocked out of position. Ditto the diopter adjustment ring for getting the image and focus exactly right for the user’s eyes, though we did notice one small issue. Since it’s necessary to use the focus wheel for the left eye and then use the diopter adjustment ring for the right eye, it gets a bit fiddly because at all times the binoculars must be pointed at the sun (the only thing it’s possible to see!). So once set-up is complete it’s unwise to share them – which might be tricky if you’re watching a solar eclipse with friends. 

However, the physical attributes it has that no other solar binoculars match are both highly practical; its twist-up eyecups (which help block out light and create more involving views of the sun) and lens caps that are attached to the end of the barrels (making them hard to lose). 

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)

Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 review: performance

Look through the Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 and the only thing you can see is the sun. That can make it tricky, at first, to find the sun. That sounds silly given our star’s brightness, but it actually only covers about half a degree of the 180° sky. Thankfully, the Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 has a wide enough angle on the sky that we did find the sun relatively easily, which is thanks to its low-but-not-tiny magnification of 8x. It’s the perfect amount; go up to 10x and beyond and the sun gets really hard to find and the binoculars increase in size, making them harder to hold steady.

The Lunt SUNoculars 8x32’s displays a sharp, bright and colourful white-yellow image of the sun’s surface. This skill at revealing sunspots on the surface of the sun is relevant to eclipse-chasers, too, because during the upcoming eclipses the sun will be near to ‘solar maximum’. In practice that means sunspots are highly likely to be visible on the disk during the eclipses. The only slight downside is that there is some noticeable glare around the sun, though colour fringing around the sun’s disk is minuscule. Either way, we were impressed by the quality of the image either for studying sunspots or just keeping track of the moon’s progress across the sun during an eclipse.

Lunt SUNocular 8x32 review

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/T3)

Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 review: verdict

With large sunspots all over the sun in the mid-2020s and some solar eclipses coming up there’s never been a better time to invest in some solar eclipse binoculars with solar filters attached. The Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 is a great example, with a unique blend of portability, magnification and build quality that makes them a standout option for sharp and colourful views of sunspots and the solar surface. We love the different colours they come in, though of more practical use is the rubberized protective armour and the generous eye relief offered by the twist-up eyecups and the hard-to-lose lens caps.

Lunt SUNoculars 8x32 review: alternatives to consider

Lunt also makes the SUNocular Mini, though as well as being very low priced it offers few of the advantages of its larger stablemate. It’s hampered by its tiny eyecups, which makes it hard to use comfortably, while it lacks magnification. A good alternative brand is Celestron, which offers four solar eclipse binoculars in its EclipSmart range – 10x25, 10x42, 12x50 and 20x50. 

If you’re after binoculars for stargazing then the solar filters will totally prevent you from seeing anything at night. Instead, discover how to choose and use binoculars for stargazing and astronomy.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance journalist, copywriter and author with 20 years' experience. He's written journalism for over 50 publications and websites and, when he's not writing, spending most of his time travelling – putting the latest travel tech through its paces.