on February 6, 2009
I've wanted a telescope since I was a kid and now that I'm all grown up and can afford one I did a lot of research and comparison of scopes in my price range and the StarBlast always had the best reviews. The reviews are right, the first night I went out and looked at the moon, Venus, and a few other objects and they all exceeded my expectations for such a small scope. I can't wait for warmer weather so I can use it even more.
The equatorial mount is a bit complicated to use but I got used to it pretty quickly. I'd recommend the original Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro with the simpler dobsonian mount for younger kids or people who need a lot of portability.
on April 5, 2013
My name is Chris, I'm the guy who put up some of the customer images you see at the top of the page. I just wanted to write a review for this telescope because I really enjoy using it and I hope others can see the same things I have. When I was younger my parents had bought me a telescope (it was obviously a budget telescope because I was so young at the time) but since that time I've been fascinated with looking at the stars. Since purchasing this telescope I've been able to view Jupiter, Jupiter's moons (shown as little white dots next to the planet), Saturn's rings, Orion Nebula (takes a little to adjust your eyes to see it and it needs to be dark outside, also a hydrogen-beta filter helps a lot), as well as a couple double stars around the night sky. I've only owned this telescope for about two months or so, so the sky hasn't had much time to change but from what I've seen so far I really enjoy using this telescope. It works fairly well in lit areas, but obviously MUCH better when its really dark outside. Perfect for use in one's backyard, and especially amazing when used on camping trips where the night sky really shows itself. You are able to view the Andromeda galaxy fairly well as well as tons of other stuff. The software sent with this telescope (Starry Night I believe is the name) is really simple to use and really helpful when tracking objects in the sky. Long story short this telescope rocks and definitely worth the money.
on May 18, 2013
I'll start with simply saying that this is a great first reflector telescope, and if you're looking for one, look no further.
Got this in the mail Thursday after ordering Tuesday on standard shipping. Orion ships quick. The box on the outside got ruined by rain, but it's double-packed so no harm to the inner box or it's contents.
The disassembled scope is quite overwhelming at first, but I got it together in about an hour or so. Forgoing the included instructions, I instead used the Internet age to its full advantage. Orion has a very nice assembly video on Youtube as well as one for collimation of the telescope and there are some good ones by David Fuller about how to align and use the equatorial mount. The included screwdriver was very poorly deburred, so be careful of the sharp edges or use your own.
Collimation (aligning the mirrors) is very simple; however, one of the tools required is not included (a 2mm allen wrench). Fortunately, the secondary mirror which requires it was already collimated, so it just took a bit of fiddling with some knobs on the back and I was done in about a minute.
One of the first things you notice about the telescope is the sheer quality of the optics. They're absolutely stunning. The mirrors look like they've been sterilized by surgeons or something, it's almost unbelievable. The mirrors are almost sci-fi shiny, and the coated lenses included are very nice.
The telescope is reasonably portable and after complete assembly can be readily dismantled to about 5 components: the tripod, the scope, the two slow-motion knobs, and the counterweight. It's heavy, about 20 to 25 pounds, almost all located in the sturdy steel tripod mount and the counterweight. I had heard complaints of view shaking and there is some but it fades very quickly, so as long as you're not trying to stargaze in the middle of a tornado, it will not be a problem.
Now on to the view. I got my telescope with a moon filter and a sun filter and let me say... get a 2x Barlow with this too. I've only had a few breaks in the clouds in the last day or so, but the few times I did manage to get it out, I learned the magnification leaves a little to be desired. I have a 70's era 2-inch refractor telescope and it gets a bit more power than this, so you'll want to get a Barlow for it to squeeze that extra power out of it. It's enough to see Saturn's rings pretty clearly, and get some nice views of the moon, but it needs some more OOMPH. I just purchased a Celestron 1.25" 2x Barlow (which was over $20 cheaper than a similar Orion setup) and hopefully that should fix the issue.
Where the scope triumphs, however, is picture clarity. There is NO blur, at all. Though the magnification is low, the picture clarity and contrast allow you to see at least one of Saturn's moons. which are difficult to see because of Saturn's brightness and proximity. This was visible even through light atmospheric haze. The mirrors themselves are incredibly capable and should be able to handle any lens you want to throw on there. Brightness is great too, so no need to worry about dimming with additional lenses
The included setup along with an Orion solar filter is FANTASTIC for observing the Sun. The picture is so crisp that I first thought the sunspots were just dust on the lens, as though they were physically in front of me. The solar filter also compensates for the yellow tint that the Sun gets from Earth's atmosphere so you can observe the Sun in roughly true color.
I have only two gripes with the tripod. One is the slow-motion knobs. They feel very flimsy and springy; the reason for this is actually a trick used for film cameras in which a rubber band is used to move the tripod in order to reduce camera shakiness. It was a nice thought, but the springiness can be actually detrimental to image stability if you're not careful with it, and it doesn't feel very nice sometimes. The other issue is that lubrication seemed to be placed in places it didn't need to be and not in places it did. Most of the black-painted parts on the tripod are sticky as a result of this, and pretty much all the screws need some lube. Easy fix, but probably shouldn't be necessary.
I haven't messed with the Starry Night software as I use Stellarium already, but I'm sure it'll be useful for some.
All in all, despite the few issues, this is a fantastic telescope and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a quality entry-level telescope. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars out of five, but I only get whole numbers to work with, so it'll get the five for sheer picture quality. Have fun in space!
on March 4, 2010
I've never owned a telescope and got this for me and my 7 and 9 year old kids after doing some internet homework. It arrived packaged securely. was relatively easy to set up and we were exploring the heavens in no time. Showed my skeptic wife a planet, forget which one, she said "how do I know that's not just a bright star?" so I zoomed in on Saturn and there was no room for doubt! We live in a suburban neighborhood so the seeing conditions are generally not very good but even in these conditions the rings of Saturn were unmistakable. Can't wait to get out in the country to check it out under better conditions but so far we love it and highly recommend to others as a solid bang for the buck entry level scope.
on September 16, 2009
Just got this scope and tripod. Weather has not cooperated for much viewing as yet. However, the few times I've been out with the scope, have been extremely pleased. Seems to be a good step up from the cheapo beginner scopes. If you are thinking about a starter scope and dont wish to spend lots of $$S, please take a suggestion from one who has been there and done that. Go ahead and spend over $200-250 for scope and tripod. I spent that much on numerous low end stuff that were unsatisfactory and generally broke soon after. This scope seems much more durable, viewing size is good and the tripod is all metal, very nice. So far no major cons. Will add more if I find any other info with further useage.
on February 20, 2012
I have been using this telescope for the last 2 years and love it. I use it with my students and we see a lot. Now, don't let the product descriptions fool you by saying you can see the individual rings of Saturn. For 200 bucks you are not going to see that much detail and I didn't expect it. I would suggest you buy an accompanying moon filter. The moon through a powerful telescope is quite bright. I recommend this as a STARTER telescope!
on September 26, 2012
What a deal. Took me about 20 minutes to put everything together and not even 15 minutes later i was outside in my backyard and could clearly see Jupiter and four of its moons. I would really recommend on getting a 2x or 3x Barlow lens. The telescope can magnify about 230 times but with the eye pieces it comes with you only get about 75 times. The tripod it comes with is well worth the buy alone. I would highly recommend this telescope for any beginner or any space enthusiast.
on January 13, 2013
I received this telescope as a Christmas present from my girlfriend, and I could not be happier! This telescope has proven to be an excellent first telescope and has taught me a lot about navigation the night sky.
The telescope was packed very securely. It was double boxed, and each component came in it's own separate box with an abundance of bubble wrap to protect everything
First off, this is not a toy. It is a tool. As such, I would not recommend having a 10 year old do the preliminary set-up. That being said, initial assembly is not difficult, and should take at max 1 hour. Better diagrams would have made it easier to set up, but the listed instructions were sufficient
The tripod is nothing special, but it definitely gets the job done. It is made of aluminum tubes with plastic lock knobs for setting the height. When fully set up, the accessory tray braces the tripod, making it very secure in it's hold of the optical tube. Some of the plastic components feel cheap compared to the aluminum legs, so time will tell how those last.
Equatorial Mount: 4.5/5
The equatorial mount tracks the movement of the stars across the sky, so when polar oriented, it should make finding and observing astronomical objects easier. The mount is made of finished metal, and feels very sturdy. The slow motion controls are large enough as to remain operable with gloves. The counterweight is easy enough to use, though some equipment will require either more weight, or deal with an unbalanced scope (I managed to unbalance the scope using a 3x barlow lens and a camera on the optical tube). The tube rings are quite simple to use, though I would recommend attaching them before going out into the field, as they require rather small hex nuts and washers. The equatorial mount does require some getting used to, but it allows for some more advanced observing than an altazimuth might offer.
Optical Tube: 5/5
The optical tube really does shine. It is an aluminum tube with an attractive powder coated finish. The eyepiece port accepts 1.25" eyepieces, and focuses quite well, though at 175x and above, it is a bit jumpy. The tube comes with a dust cap for protecting the optics, and a collimation cap for aligning the primary and secondary mirror. This scope certainly delivers on Orion's promises of views of planets, the moon, and deep space objects. The scope comes with 15mm and 6mm eyepieces, which gives magnifications of 30x and 75x respectively.
EZ Finder Scope: 5/5
The EZ Finder isn't a very complicated device, but it is very easy to use. With proper alignment, it will assist in aiming the telescope.
This is an outstanding beginner's telescope! It provides amazing views of the cosmos and is very easy to use. Orion has outstanding customer service, and their live chat provides fast answers to pretty much any question you could ask. I have the 13% pass ND moon filter and the 3x barlow lens, and they expand the experience of using the telescope. Even with the 6mm eyepiece and the 3x barlow lens (225x), the telescope still provides relatively bright views that have quite a bit of detail. The moon filter provides comfortable viewing of the full moon, and is easy to install and remove from the eyepieces. I could not be happier with this telescope, and highly recommend it for anyone looking at buying a beginner's telescope.
on December 27, 2012
I have always been interested in Astronomy but in the past 6 months I have started to gain interest in owning a telescope. After much research I continued to come back to this particular model. My wife must have paid attention b/c I got the Orion StarBlast 4.5 as an early christmas gift this year. I felt like a kid again on Christmas morning!
The telescope was packaged well and protected during shipping. The unit was easy to put together however the instructions could have had more diagrams - I grew up with Legos so I tend to work better with visual instructions. I ended up putting the instructions aside and put the telescope and tripod together based on the picture for the most part. I read through the instructions the following day and made some adjustments to my initial build. The EQ mount works great so far. My only gripe is with the latitude adjustment t-bolt. This adjustment can be cumbersome at times as opposed to the slow motion controls that are included for R.A. and Dec. The tripod itself is sturdy enough however 1 out of the 3 adjustable legs tends to stick. These are the only minor issues I have come across in the past week.
The EZ finder reflex sight has definitely made it effortless to zero in on objects in the sky. All of the components have a quality finish, especially the optical tube and the EQ mount. The 2 included eyepieces (6mm and 15mm) have allowed me to see the moon and Jupiter (including 3/4 moons). Views of the moon were crisp and sharp even in less than crystal clear skys. Overall the optics appear to be high quality. Im looking forward to the weather clearing up soon on the east coast so I can really explore the night sky. The portability of this telescope is also excellent. The optical tube can be very easily separated from the mount and packed for a road trip.
Overall I would highly recommend this telescope to any of my friends or family based on quality, price, and portability.
I would recommend the purchase of additional eyepieces and filters to enhance the experience. Orion currently has an accessory kit that has good reviews - 1.25 Inch Premium Telescope Accessory Kit.
on August 5, 2013
I bought it, received it, set it up and tried to use it. This is designed *purely* for visual viewing (meaning, no astrophotography). From that standpoint it is perfectly adequate especially given the price. The scope itself is functional. Nothing wrong with the optics. The focuser is absolute garbage and the focal point makes it so that you can only use an eyepiece and be able to focus. DSLR wouldn't come close to focusing. Even a CCD (NexImage) wouldn't work without a Barlow!
The mount is crap but probably useful for visual viewing. The locks on the alt / az gears are similarly terrible so plan to reorient a lot.
For some reason it comes with two really nice eyepieces. Those were the only pieces I regretted putting back in the box and shipping back to Amazon.
This is an excellent beginner's scope but will be outgrown very quickly. While it's worth the $200-ish, you don't really get a lot of telescope for that price. As an "intermediate" user I was embarrassed to find myself with this scope and am awaiting delivery of something substantially more .... substantial.