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2014 Telescope Awards

Telescope of the Year Awards

Telescopes.com welcomes you back to our annual Telescope of the Year Awards. Throughout each year, we continually explore telescopes from the top-rated manufacturers in the world to find our favorites. These awards are the result - we present the best of the best, and the right telescopes for you and your hobby. Whether you're on an astronomical or terrestrial budget, there's something out there that'll open your eyes.

We continually work with the makers to put each telescope through a series of tests to decide the winners. We assemble and study them closely in our building and take them home and out to star parties for testing. We observe their construction and features closely and enjoy looking through them very far. Our experts rate their performance in a variety of situations with our customers in mind. We've defined 7 categories of telescope that our viewers vie for and awarded the best of each. It's been quite an adventurous year … read on to find out why!

See the 2012 winners

Telescope of the Year

Celestron NexStar SE Series Telescopes

Back-to-Back-to-Back Winner! We are excited to announce, for the third year running, the Celestron NexStar SE Series Telescopes as the telescopes.com Telescope of the Year for 2014. Astronomers of all skill and experience levels keep getting their hands on these excellent-yet-accessible telescopes, anchored by the recognizable Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain optical systems and easy alignment technology. Each NexStar scope, in sizes from 4 to 8 inches, boasts quality glass from Celestron with proprietary StarBright XLT coatings for bright, clear, consistent, and accurate images.

What really sets this series apart, however, is the incredible and easy integration of technology. On a custom mount, each SE uses SkyAlign technology to quickly and easily align using any 3 objects in the sky. Once set, NexStar is ready to take the user on a fully automated tour of the night sky, with over 40,000 objects pre-programmed. You can take control and send your scope pointing at any available object, or let NexStar take the reins and get a full tour based on the best objects in your location. Add your own objects, mark sightings as favorites to return later, and make your telescope experience your own. With easy hand controls, seeing the night sky through a Celestron SE can be like opening your eyes for the first time.

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Best Telescope for Beginners

Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope

3-Time Consecutive Winner! Similar to a Triple Crown Winner, the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ goes 3-for-3 in 2014. It's pretty clear that this perennial best-seller is responsible for more new astronomy enthusiasts every year than any other on the market. The simple design introduces users to the principles of alignment, tracking objects, and making adjustments to see what they've always dreamed of through their telescope. With a complete package (telescope, tripod, mount, and accessories) available under $200, we recommend the AstroMaster as a gift for kids or adults who've expressed interest in looking skyward.

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Best GPS Telescope

Celestron CPC Series Telescopes

It was difficult to find another series of telescopes to match the Celestron CPCs. These fork-mounted telescopes are some the most portable around and pack a GPS database that calculates the date, time, longitude, and latitude of your current location so you can start locating objects wherever you land. Celestron's SkyAlign technology kicks in and aligns your scope flawlessly based on GPS data and any three objects in the sky … and you're ready to go! Of course, they haven't skimped on the viewing experience, either, using Schmidt-Cassegrain design, premium glass with StarBright coatings, and tons of extras ideal for mobile astrophotography.

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Best Intermediate Telescope

Celestron Advanced VX Series Telescopes

No more dreaming of how professional-grade optics look and perform! The Celestron Advanced VX Series telescopes have changed that for us, so we've named them our favorite intermediate telescope of the year. The VXs bring professional Schmidt-Cassegrain optical design and reliable GoTo mounts down a notch in price, making them accessible to those interested in trying astrophotography or simply upgrading their kit. Each has All-Star polar alignment, an upgradable NexStar hand controller, and tons of other high-level features.

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Best Telescope Value

Zhumell Dobsonian Telescopes

And the winner is … the Zhumell Dobsonian Telescopes for best value with promising optics. These economical Dobsonian designs bring the incredible light-gathering power to the people, with big barrels and 8-, 10-, and 12-inch objective lenses. They've been simplified and streamlined to be easy to use - viewers get a quick, simple setup, a smooth adjustable azimuth bearing system, and all the accessories they need to get started. Starting at under $500, the Z series includes two eyepieces, a Crayford focuser, and an easy clutch mount. The views are bright and clear, the learning curve is short, and the fact that size does matter has never been more obvious.

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Best Telescope for Kids

Tasco 402x60 Refractor Telescope with Microscope

Kids should be encouraged to explore the night sky and territorial sites around us. We recommend getting kids interested in our favorite kids' telescope of 2014, the Tasco 402x60 Refractor and 1200X Microscope. Simple and affordable, they're great as gifts for a favorite kid or as accessories in a classroom. The telescope comes with a 2X Barlow lens to make objects easier to make out, a real finderscope, an adjustable tripod, and a 35X terrestrial eyepiece for daytime viewing. The microscope boasts 1200X magnification that's more than enough to see something unexpected and a complete kit of 19 dyes, slide covers, and other viewing essentials. Kids are naturally curious, and now's the best time to open their eyes up.

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Best Eyepieces

TeleVue ETHOS Telescope Eyepieces

No doubt a winner, the TeleVue ETHOS Eyepieces have a field of view that'll widen your world. Our top picks for 2014 provide 100 degrees of sharp, high-contrast views through your telescope, at least 50% more than standard eyepieces. Designed and produced in-house by the legendary Nagler team and Paul Dellechaie, ETHOS sets a new widely recognized high bar for performance. Each is optimized for sharpness, contrast, ultra-low reflectance, control of astigmatism, field curvature, lateral color, angular magnification distortion correction, and low pupil sensitivity. Think you love astronomy now? Look through this.

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