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Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ Reviewed – Recommended Telescope

If you don’t mind the slight inconvenience and increased complexity of using an equatorial mount, Orion’s StarBlast II is certainly a great choice for the beginning astronomer or a serious enthusiast looking for a smaller and more lightweight instrument to complement a larger telescope.

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TelescopicWatch

4.5 /5
4.5

The Orion StarBlast II is often passed over as another cheap and bad equatorially-mounted reflector and lumped in with the terrible Celestron AstroMaster and PowerSeeker telescopes. In reality, it’s a great scope for beginners and provides some of the best value in its price range. While an equatorial mount is certainly not our favorite choice for beginners, it provides significantly more versatility than a tabletop mount.

Ranked 3rd among 16 telescopes in $200 range
Rank 1
Zhumell Z130
Rank 2
Sky-Watcher Heritage 130p Tabletop Dobsonian
Rank 3
Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ
 

Amazon prices as of 2020-11-29 at 07:13

  • Great optics
  • Great accessories
  • Decent aperture
  • Wide field of view
  • The equatorial mount can be confusing for beginners
Optical Tube Rating 90%
Accessories Rating 90%
Mount Rating 84%
Visibility Score 80%
Recommended Product Badge

The Orion StarBlast II is certainly a great choice for the beginning astronomer. While there are scopes offering slightly more aperture and ease of use than the StarBlast II at the same price point, the convenience of an equatorial mount and full-sized tripod are great – provided you’re willing to take the time to learn to use the mount, and allocate additional storage space for the scope.

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Recommended! Why?

The Optical Tube of Starblast 4.5 EQ

The StarBlast II EQ uses the same optical tube as Orion’s regular StarBlast but it is supplied on Orion’s EQ-1 equatorial mount instead of a tabletop Dobsonian mount and comes with much better eyepieces.

The StarBlast is a 114mm (4.5”) f/4 Newtonian reflector. At f/4, there is some coma at the edge of the field of view with low-magnification eyepieces like the included 25mm Plossl, but even if you notice it shouldn’t hamper the image quality too much. The scope also requires precise collimation (which it thankfully has easy-to-use, spring-loaded adjustments for, unlike some other 114mm equatorial scopes on the market).

Orion doesn’t provide a collimation tool, but you can buy/make one or simply collimate it on a star – read our guide for more information on collimation.

The StarBlast scopes have been around for about 20 years now and Orion has managed to nail down the optical quality. Most StarBlasts are pretty good optically and capable of magnifications up to about 200x.  
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Price – $189.99

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Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

About the Accessories

The StarBlast II EQ comes with two eyepieces: A 25mm Sirius Plossl (18x) and a 10mm Sirius Plossl (45x). You may want to purchase an additional 6mm “goldline” eyepiece (75x) as well as a 2x Barlow to get the most out of your StarBlast, but the included Sirius Plossls are of very high quality and a cut above the Kellners or cheap plastic Plossls provided with most scopes at this price range – the Sirius Plossls have higher transmission for brighter images, as well as slightly sharper and wider fields of view compared to a lower-cost kit eyepiece.

The StarBlast II is supplied with a red dot sight, which is adequate for this telescope. There’s also a moon map bundled with the scope (Orion’s MoonMap 260) but I find it to be kind of outdated and mildly useful at best.

The Orion EQ-1 Equatorial Mount Quality

The EQ-1 mount is basically the same as the mount supplied with most of the Celestron PowerSeeker telescopes, but the StarBlast is small and light enough to work on it quite well – and also has good enough optics that it’s worth talking about actually using it.
Buy Starblast EQ From Amazon

Price – $189.99

The StarBlast II sits inside two felt-lined tube rings that bolt onto the EQ-1 mount’s top plate – larger/more expensive equatorials use a Vixen dovetail and saddle which is slightly more convenient, but the simple system used with the StarBlast II works just fine.

The EQ-1 is more or less a simplified version of the larger German equatorial mounts used for large telescopes and/or astrophotography. It lacks a polar scope, and the setting circles on it are so small that they’re almost entirely useless, but for visual astronomy it works just fine – don’t expect it to work well for astrophotography, however.

Setting up and using the EQ-1 is pretty easy – just level the tripod, put the mount/scope together, balance the scope on both axes, and roughly line up the mount’s polar axis with Polaris. Coarse motion is achieved by simply pushing/pulling the scope around the sky while fine adjustments are made with the two included flexible slow-motion cables. If you need to rotate the tube to put the finder/eyepiece in a more convenient position, just slightly loosen the tube and rotate it in the tube rings (while being careful not to slide it forward/backward and ruin the balance).

What can you see?

The StarBlast II’s high-quality optics will show you Mercury and Venus’ phases, along with the dark albedo patches and ice caps on Mars. You can also see Jupiter’s cloud belts, the Great Red Spot and its 4 large moons. Saturn’s rings, the Cassini Division, the planet’s cloud belts, and about half a dozen of its moons are visible. Uranus and Neptune can be spotted as small turquoise and azure dots respectively, though locating them can be a bit tricky. Their moons are unfortunately too dim for the StarBlast to reveal.

Outside the solar system, the StarBlast excels at revealing large star clusters and nebulae. The Veil Nebula is easily visible with a good UHC or OIII filter. Orion, the Lagoon, and the Swan look excellent with even mediocre suburban skies. The scope can also pick up some of the brighter/larger galaxies such as M31, M51, the Leo Triplet, M81/82, and perhaps M101 and M33 with dark enough skies. You’ll even be able to spot planetary nebulae such as the Ring – a small donut-shaped fuzz that you might mistake for an out-of-focus star – the Dumbbell, the gorgeous blue NGC 2392, the Cat’s Eye, and the famous Blinking Planetary Nebula.

Alternative Recommendations

For similar prices to the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ, there are a number of other scopes you might want to consider, including the following:

Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations

The most useful accessory we’d recommend for the StarBlast II is a 6mm “goldline” eyepiece which will provide 75x with the scope. This is a good magnification for viewing the Moon, planets, and double stars. A quality 2x Barlow will provide 36x and 90x with the stock eyepieces and 150x with the 6mm goldline, providing an even wider and more useful range of magnifications.

Additionally, the EQ-1 is compatible with a motor drive. Celestron’s single-axis motor drive 
and Meade’s single-axis drive  (which are identical) both work for simple single-axis tracking. If you want to get fancy, the Orion EQ-1M unit (which costs a substantial portion as much as the entire telescope) allows you to slew the telescope in right ascension back and forth with the push of a button, and adjust the rate for sidereal or lunar tracking speeds. The drive is battery-powered and will offer at least semi-accurate tracking.

12 thoughts on “Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ Reviewed – Recommended Telescope”

  1. Compare to skyhawk 1145p? Will skyhawk do better on planetary due to it longer focal lenght? Should i consider buying 3x barlow to improve planetary viewing? Sorry no more question hehe

    Reply
  2. Currently have Celestron 70DX toy travel scope. Have read many of your reviews, have budget under $250 and this seems to be good telescope to improve my observable universe. Will this be good upgrade or will I be disappointed by still seeing Jupiter as white dot with 4 coplanar dots. Meade Polaris 130 EQ seems comparable but can’t find it anywhere to buy. Do you recommend a better telescope for my budget?

    Reply
  3. We’re looking into getting started and looking for some advice on which telescope would be best for us. We are mainly interested in viewing planets and don’t really mind to spend a little more on eyepieces if it will better the experience. Currently looking at this one and the meade polaris 127mm and 130mm models. Thanks

    Reply
    • The Polaris 127 is a Bird-Jones like the Powerseeker 127EQ. The 130 is not bad. I personally would go for the StarBlast though, or get a 6″ Dob which will beat either.

      Reply
  4. Looking for a sub $200 telescope for my 9-year-old who wants to view the planets, stars and some deep space objects. We’re both beginners and it sounds like this may be the one to get as our first telescope. Any other recommendations for a kid to use, or should we go with this one?

    Reply
    • The tabletop Starblast, Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P or one of the Zhumell scopes might be a better choice since they’re easier to use.

      Reply

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