What an exciting year for new astronomy gear! After more than a decade scouring the astronomical marketplace for our annual Hot Products roundups, we have a pretty good idea of what a typical year serves up, and 2011 is anything but typical. Our initial search revealed dozens and dozens of new products. The winnowing process, honed by years of experience, still produced a “short list” with more than twice the usual number of candidates, making our final selection especially difficult. But just because something is new doesn’t mean we consider it “hot.” For that, we need to see an item offering a new technology, providing a simple solution to an old problem, or delivering a remarkable price-to-performance ratio. And that last qualification played a major role this year. Consider, for example, Orion's new 8-inch SkyQuest XTg Dob for only $849.95, or a 12-inch Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph costing about one-fourth what similar instruments did just a couple of years ago.
Whether or not you agree with our picks, we hope you’ll enjoy reading about the products that intrigued us the most. Click here to download a 3-megabyte PDF describing S&T's Hot Products for 2011.