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2012 Telescope Awards

2012 Telescope of the Year

Telescopes.com is proud to announce the inaugural Telescope of the Year Awards in 2012. We're privileged to be privy to the latest and greatest from the best telescope manufacturers in the world, and we think it's important to share. Every year, top telescope makers release their latest models, improving sizes, specs, and capabilities and expanding popular lines with new offerings. We've designed these awards to recognize the best of the best, the telescopes that bring something special to the star party.

To determine the winners, we put all the telescopes through a series of tests. We fiddle with them in the office and we take them out in the field. We look at them closely and gaze through them into space. Our in-house team of experts puts each telescope through a series of exacting tests to rate its performance in a variety of situations applicable to our customers. We defined eight categories of telescope that our customers crave, and awarded a title to this year's best in each. So, without further ado, we're proud to present the 2012 Telescope of the Year Awards!

Telescope of the Year

Celestron NexStar SE Series Telescopes

Best GoTo Telescope

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT

Most Innovative Telescope

Celestron SkyProdigy 6 Telescopes

Game-Changing Telescope

Meade 10 Inch LX800 Telescope with StarLock

Best Telescope for Beginners

Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope

Best Telescope Value

Zhumell Z8 Dobsonian Telescope

Best Intermediate Telescope

Meade ETX-90 AT Telescope

Best GPS Telescope

Meade 8-Inch LX90 GPS Telescope with UHTC

Telescope of the Year

Celestron NexStar SE Series Telescopes

There's just something about that orange tube ... Telescopes.com is proud to name the Celestron NexStar SE Series Telescopes our Telescope of the Year in 2012. These excellent scopes incorporate exquisite Celestron optics and state-of-the-art technology in an easy-to-use package that we're happy to see in the hands of amateurs and pros alike. The Maksutov-Cassegrain design optical system is available in a variety of sizes to accommodate viewing needs and budgets, all with StarBright XLT coatings and a compact design that works and travels well in almost every situation.

The kicker here, though, is the flawless integration of NexStar and SkyAlign technology. Astronomers of any skill level can quickly and easily align their SE using any 3 objects in the sky and be on their way to a fully automated tour of the heavens. The NexStar program has over 40,000 objects pre-programmed - enter where you want to go using the easy hand controls and let it guide the way. You can also take an automatic tour based on the best objects in view at your location or add user-defined objects and favorites you'd like to see again later. It's advanced, it's easy, and it's unlike anything else out there. The Celestron NexStar SE series truly brings us closer to the sky, and that's why we're proud to name it the Telescope of the Year.

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Best GoTo Telescope

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope literally takes the popular SLT series up a notch. A size upgrade to the excellent 114mm SLT, this telescope adds 30% more light-gathering power to a stellar telescope. Users still get the full features of Celestron's incredible SkyAlign and NexStar technologies, integrated deeply into a hand control unit and fully computerized altazimuth mount; it's just better now. Align the scope in minutes using any 3 celestial objects, and let the NexStar 130 SLT point its 5-inch primary mirror at thousands of galaxies, clusters, stars, and more, optimized for your viewing location. At a price point accessible for beginners or intermediate astronomers, everything you need to get started is included.

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Most Innovative Telescope

Celestron SkyProdigy 6 Telescopes

What better way to gaze into space than using space-age technology? Celestron SkyProdigy 6 Telescopes pack the achievements and innovations of years of improvements into a single package. Fully automated operation and navigation, an advanced on-board computer, and StarSense digital camera-based automatic alignment are all built onto and into a state-of-the-art Celestron optical tube. What this amounts to is an incredible telescope that requires only the push of an "on" button to begin scanning the sky. The camera takes internal images of celestial objects and integrates them with GPS data to know exactly when and where you are. Take a Sky Tour or tell it where you'd like to fly - the SkyProdigy is the telescope to take you there.

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Game-Changing Telescope

Meade 10 Inch LX800 Telescope with StarLock

Whoa. The all-new Meade 10-Inch LX800 Telescope with StarLock is a serious game-changer. Strictly for those serious about the best astrophotography, this scope combines Meade's ultra-fast, ultra-crisp optical system, a flawless equatorial mount with fully computerized GoTo operation, and the infallible StarLock system. StarLock uses a two-camera acquisition and guiding system with LightSwitch technology to keep stars as dim as 11th magnitude in your viewfinder in real time. It's all completely automated with zero calibration or focusing and automatic error correction to .01 arcseconds. Mount your camera, choose your target, and set your exposure time - the best pictures you've ever taken are here. StarLock is the LX800's heart, but there's so much more. From the stainless steel and aircraft aluminum tripod and mount assembly to the optical tube and StarLock cameras, Meade has made the first scope from which no star can hide.

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Best Telescope for Beginners

Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope

Without a doubt, more of our customers discover the sky for the first time through a Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope than any other. With an easy design that helps new astronomers learn the basics while getting rewarding views, this sub-$200 complete telescope package is just right. The included equatorial tripod mount is easy to align and adjust to track objects, a process that helps beginners understand what it is they're doing with their scope. It's fully expandable with standard lenses and filters, so it'll grow with the hobby. The basic package comes with everything needed, including a steel tripod, and makes an unforgettable gift. You want the moon? You want the stars? Just say the word, and the AstroMaster will pull them down to you.

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Best Telescope Value

Zhumell Z8 Dobsonian Telescope

Go big or go home. That's the motto for Dobsonian lovers, and that's why the Zhumell Dobsonian Telescope is our best telescope value in 2012. This excellent economical Dob puts the power in the hands of the people without requiring a second mortgage. The 2012 Z8 (and its cousins the Z10 and Z12) has been redesigned to make its size even easier to use - think super-simple setup, a new adjustable azimuth bearing system, and everything included. Dobsonian design pulls in a ridiculous amount of light, providing views that our astronomer customers didn't think were possible for under $500. Each of the Z series comes with two eyepieces, a dual-speed Crayford focuser, an easy clutch mount, and immediate bragging rights.

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Best Intermediate Telescope

Meade ETX-90 AT Telescope

We understand the excitement of graduating to the next telescope up on your dream list, and that's why we love the Meade ETX-90AT Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope. This accessible scope puts advanced features and next-level components in the hands of astronomers ready to graduate from beginner level. This super-portable telescope uses the power of Meade's Maksutov-Cassegrain OTA for bright, crystal-clear views, and the technology of Meade AutoStar for super-advanced sky-scanning simplicity. It's no toy - Meade's dual-fork altazimuth mount, Super Plossl eyepieces, and UHTC-coated lenses are fit for serious scientists - but it doesn't take a NASA budget, either. Time for an upgrade.

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Best GPS Telescope

Meade 8-Inch LX90 GPS Telescope with UHTC

If the Meade 8-Inch LX90 GPS Telescope looks ready to go, it is. The LX90 is dedicated to tearing down obstacles between you and your views, so this GPS telescope is as easy as can be. With a built-in Sony GPS unit that's completely integrated into the EasyAlign and AutoStar systems, one touch sets the date, time, and location and aligns and sets your optics accordingly. The 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain f/10 optical system is built with UHTC-coated lenses and an oversized primary mirror, so the views are clear. This year, Meade has also included AudioStar with Astronomer Inside. This incredible system, previously limited to the LightSwitch series, brings interactive audio content that makes it even easier and faster to understand everything you see. It's time to become the center of the universe.

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