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Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Telescope Review – Recommended Scope

While Dobsonians tend to be recommended to beginners, Orion’s SpaceProbe 130ST promises to deliver decent views with the promise of astrophotography down the road. But does it really have any advantages over a 6” Dob? Let’s find out.

How It Stacks Up

Ranked #7 of 20 ~$300 telescopes

Rank 7
Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ

Optics Performance Of SpaceProbe 130SLT

The SpaceProbe 130ST is a 130mm f/5 Newtonian, identical to the Meade Lightbridge Mini 130, Zhumell Z130, Astronomers Without Borders OneSky, and Celestron 130SLT/Astro-Fi 130.

At f/5, this scope delivers nice wide-field views, albeit with a little coma – nothing to worry about, however.

The primary mirror is made of plate glass, and both the primary and secondary mirrors are of course collimatable.

For whatever reason Orion has covered the back of the primary mirror cell with a useless metal plate obscuring the collimation screws and hindering cooldown – it must be removed with a Phillips head screwdriver.

Orion SpaceProbe 130ST

Are the Accessories of Acceptable Quality?

The SpaceProbe includes 25mm (26x) and 10mm Sirius Plossl (65x) eyepieces – these are much better than the cheap Kellners/Modified Achromats supplied with cheaper telescopes.

The SpaceProbe uses a 6×30 optical finder as opposed to the red-dot finders often found on many beginner scopes. While a 6×30 will show you more stars than you can see with the naked eye through a red dot – making it easier to find targets – it comes at the expense of being uncomfortable to look through and presenting an upside-down image. The latter may not sound like a problem since the view through the telescope itself is already upside down, but it’s rather annoying to have to flip your start charts over.

A collimation cap is also included, though a Cheshire collimator or laser is ideal – read our guide to learn more.

About the Mount Capabilities

The SpaceProbe 130ST comes on a German equatorial mount, this one being an EQ2. The EQ2 is up to the task of holding the 130ST, but not the steadiest mount available for such a scope – particularly if you extend the tripod legs to a comfortable height. Unlike with more expensive scopes/mounts, the 130ST’s tube rings simply bolt to the EQ2 rather than using a Vixen dovetail and saddle.

The primary advantage of an equatorial mount is that tracking the sky is much simpler than with an alt-az mounted scope/Dobsonian. You simply turn the RA slow motion cable occasionally or install a motor drive. One can purchase a motor drive for hands-free tracking from Celestron or Orion which will work fairly well for visual use, but simply isn’t up to par accuracy-wise for astrophotography. The drive makes high-power viewing nice, but hand-tracking at even 250x really isn’t a problem with the mount’s slow-motion cables, or even with a regular Dobsonian mount.

The setting circles on the EQ2 are way too small and inaccurate to be useful for much of anything and are purely decorative, as on most modern equatorial mounts.

The mount lacks a polar scope or sighting hole, so precise polar alignment is difficult, but for visual use this isn’t a huge concern. For photography, however, it’s a problem.

Is It Good For Astrophotography?

So, what can you really do astrophotography-wise with the SpaceProbe 130ST?

A DSLR camera is too much for the focuser and mount to handle, so deep-sky astrophotography is basically out of the question – in any case, autoguiders and the like would be needed for good pictures and the SpaceProbe cannot accommodate these things. You’re limited to the Moon and planets, using a webcam-style CCD like a Celestron NexImage or ZWO ASI camera.

In addition to the power and laptop requirements, you’ll need a 3x or 5x Barlow lens to get the SpaceProbe to an optimal focal length – Barlows this strong are too much for visual use but the optimal focal ratio for planetary imaging is f/15 to f/25.

In addition, the mount needs to be aligned accurately to keep tracking accurate enough to keep whatever you’re imaging in the tiny field of view of the camera, which is hard when there’s no polar scope or sighting hole as I mentioned previously.

All in all, while planetary astrophotography can be done with the SpaceProbe 130ST, you’ll be spending more than the scope costs to do so, and you’ll be limited severely by its inexpensive mount and 5” aperture.

Final Verdict

All in all the SpaceProbe 130ST is in fact a pretty decent telescope – however, I consider it to be overpriced. For the same amount of money you could get a 6” or maybe even an 8” Dobsonian, and if you want a similar scope to the 130ST the Meade Polaris 130EQ is virtually identical (albeit with slightly inferior accessories) at barely over half the price.

10 thoughts on “Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Telescope Review – Recommended Scope”

  1. Hi – I am looking at buying a second hand telescope. Locally, I can choose between this and an AWB Onesky. Would you recommend one over the other?

    • I’d personally get the SpaceProbe. As much as I love the OneSky it has a really low-quality helical focuser and the requirement for a table is kind of annoying.

  2. I am thinking of getting this scope, but I feel the focuser and mount would limit me in the future and the former would be difficult to get a good replacement for. Would you recommend another 5″ f5 reflector over this one?

  3. currently have a tasco 60mm refracting toy. looking to upgrade to either a starblast 4.5 or spaceprobe 130st. budget is a considertation but not a hard stop. I live in the suburbs so any serious observation will require travel. is the increase in aperture significant enought when observing planets or galaxies?

  4. I am thinking of buying either the SpaceProbe 130slt or Meade Polaris 130. You said that the SpaceProbe is overpriced. How much would you reduce its price, so it had a reasonable value for money? Does this scope have any important qualities that the Meade Polaris lacks? And which one would You recommend if the value for money does not play the main role, but is not completely neglected?
    Thank You.

    • The 130ST has a sturdier mount, better optical quality and better eyepieces than the Polaris 130. However, a 6″ or 8″ Dob is vastly superior to either.


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