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thoughts on Orion 4.5" Starblast?

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#1 jlandy

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 12:40 PM

I have a friend who wants to buy a telescope for her husband, but is unsure if he would like the hobby so she doesn't want to spend a lot of money off the bat. I am quite partial to the AWB OneSky, but they are on backorder and wont get in on time.  That telescope is what got me interested in the hobby and started my obsession

 

So with a 130mm f/5 in mind, I was looking at the Orion 4.5" f/4 Starblast - does anyone have any opinion on the scope, keeping in mind a limited budget and unknown interest to the hobby?

 

I'd be open to other suggestions, as long as the budget is within reason (I was specifically told the XT8 dob is too much money)

 

Thanks in advance!



#2 Dwight J

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:19 PM

I have the "imaging" version which is the same OTA with a slightly larger secondary.  At F4, for the scope to perform well, collimation must be accurate.  The supplied peephole eyepiece gets you in the ballpark but I found a laser collimator to be needed to get good collimation.  The fast focal ratio doesn't make this a great telescope for solar system objects which will likely be the preferred targets to begin with.  For low power wide field viewing it works very well.  I would suggest, if they still make them, the Orion 4.5" F8 Dob.  Much better for planets and can do the wide field stuff with the right long focal length eyepiece.  A 6" F8 would be better but becoming hard to find.



#3 S.Boerner

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:35 PM

The Astronomical League's Library Loan program has put what I would guess as thousands of these 4.5" StarBlast scopes in libraries for the general public to check out.   (See:  https://www.astrolea...lescope-program)  Local clubs in St. Louis  have placed over 100 in the metro area libraries and there is a long waiting list for checkout.  The current Reflector says that the AL will be giving away one scope in each of their regions for libraries this summer at the ALCON in Washington DC.  I think that this shows that while not a great scope, it is good for beginners.



#4 CP Kuiper

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:30 PM

Orion still makes the 4.5" f/8 dob but it's $70 more ($279) than the table top 4.5 StarBlast ($209)



#5 jlr2267

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 03:46 PM

I have one I recently bought for a few $ from a yard sale.  The collimation was way off but, now corrected, it gives good views of the moon at low power and decent views of Jupiter...not much else at this time of year from my location.  The mount is not very good (unstable), and the thumbscrew locks do not hold very well once you're on your target.  The adjustment knobs are on a cheap worm gear type cable that works sometimes, sometimes not.  The EZ finer red dot is what it is.  Mine came with two Expanse eyepieces which are ok in my opinion.

 

Being new to this myself, I cannot recommend other options but I can say that I am glad I only paid the equivalent of a large pizza for the one I have.  The 6" dob I had 20 years ago was 10x the telescope.


Edited by jlr2267, 24 May 2016 - 03:56 PM.


#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 05:03 PM

So with a 130mm f/5 in mind, I was looking at the Orion 4.5" f/4 Starblast - does anyone have any opinion on the scope, keeping in mind a limited budget and unknown interest to the hobby?

Yes, I have owned a 4.5-inch StarBlast for years, and use it often. It's a very sweet little scope, extremely easy to use, and superb for browsing the deep sky. It's not as good as the OneSky for the planets, partly because at f/4 you need a really good focuser at high power, and the StarBlast's focuser is just so-so.

 

Nonetheless, I think any novice would be thrilled at the views that it shows of Jupiter and Saturn. Collimation is indeed crritical at f/4, but for what it's worth, almost every StarBlast I've heard of arrived in almost perfect collimation from the factory. And it holds collimation exceedingly well.



#7 fitter328

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 05:17 PM

My original scope was the Starblast 6 and was a fantastic easy to use instrument that gave great views. For the extra $130 if that's doable it's the scope I would recommend. Maybe available used?

 

Cheers,

John



#8 paulymo

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 08:34 PM

Hi jlandy,

 

My local astro club--like many--is putting these in local libraries and I've borrowed the one from my library many times this Spring since I'm still "between scopes."  I'll second everything Tony said--very portable, very easy to use, and very good build quality for the money.  Tony was right about the collimation too--I know how much I've used it and I know others have checked it out (and likely handled it rougher than I have) but it is still well collimated.

 

Ours is paired with a 8-24mm zoom for ~20x-60x.  Great low power widefield views.  I wish it had a 2x barlow because you can just tell the optics could handle more power.  As it is, the moon looks lovely as do open clusters.  Jupiter is small but showed good detail at 60x with bands visible.  Haven't had a chance at Saturn but Mars was a rusty blob (seeing wasn't good the only night I tried though, so...yeah).

 

The limitations are exactly what you expect them to be--the mount, the focuser, and the focal ratio.

 

So, I agree with Tony...the AWB would be better but if that ain't happening (and you say it isn't) the 4.5" Starblast isn't a shabby fallback.  I'm just sitting here salivating at the thought of cruising the summer/fall Milky Way with it.

 

Having said all this, the Zhumell Z130 would give him more aperture and slightly slower at F5 for slightly less money.  I do not have experience with that scope so I can't speak to its quality.  But people seem to like Zhumell's bigger dobs so you might want to research the Z130 a little bit.

 

Cheers and clear skies,

Pauly



#9 Aleko

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 01:12 AM

I have both scopes, having recently picked up the OneSky just to see how good it was.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I think it's main weakness though vs the 4.5 Starblast is the focuser, which I find to be much nicer on the Starblast. 

 

The optics in my Starblast are good, and with good eyepieces, it gives great views. I routinely use a 3.5 XW in it when viewing the moon.

 

 Yes, A 6-inch f8 would be nicer, but given the budget, I don't think it's a step down at all if you get the Starblast instead of the AWB.

 

Alex



#10 Sky Muse

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 02:43 AM

The Orion StarBlast 4.5" would exhibit a "noticeable" degree of coma, being an f/4. 

 

The coma should be less apparent with this one, at f/5, and with an extra half-inch of aperture to boot...

 

https://www.telescop...ector-telescope

 

I would prefer it over the OneSky, and most certainly over the Orion.



#11 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 05:12 AM

The Orion StarBlast 4.5" would exhibit a "noticeable" degree of coma, being an f/4.


True, but I for one don't find it objectionable. And I can just about guarantee that no beginner would be able to detect it.
 

The coma should be less apparent with this one, at f/5, and with an extra half-inch of aperture to boot...
 
https://www.telescop...ector-telescope
 
I would prefer it over the OneSky, and most certainly over the Orion.


Certainly looks good on paper. I can't venture to say how well it works in practice without trying it.

There's also the new Meade Lightbridge Mini series to consider, also very similar on paper.

In a lower price range, I'm still happy to endorse all three scopes that Josh Roth and I reviewed at skyandtelescope.com/$100scopes. And, of course, there's the venerable 80ST; hard to go wrong with that.



#12 Abhat

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 06:03 AM

The Orion StarBlast 4.5" would exhibit a "noticeable" degree of coma, being an f/4. 

 

The coma should be less apparent with this one, at f/5, and with an extra half-inch of aperture to boot...

 

https://www.telescop...ector-telescope

 

I would prefer it over the OneSky, and most certainly over the Orion.

Zhumell Z130 appears to be better a option than AWB especially with the solid tube and rings and standard R&P focuser.  The only thing I can't figure out looking at the pictures is whether Z130 allows collimation. The back side has a plate. I assume the collimation screws could be underneath it.


Edited by Abhat, 25 May 2016 - 06:04 AM.


#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 06:27 AM

Certainly looks good on paper. I can't venture to say how well it works in practice without trying it.

There's also the new Meade Lightbridge Mini series to consider, also very similar on paper.

 

 

From what I can find, it does seem the mini-Lightbridge is manufactured by Synta though GSO manufactures both the larger Lightbridges as well as the Zhumell scopes. In any event both Synta and GSO are reputable manufacturers.

 

I would certainly go for a 130 mm F/5 over a 114 mm F/4..  Coma is a concern at F.4 but the rather extreme eyepiece astigmatism is the supplied Keller's pretty much guarantee's one won't see the coma..  

 

Jon



#14 jlandy

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 06:43 AM

thanks for the responses everyone! I was unaware of the Zhumell 130 - it's pretty much a non-collapsible AWB copy... I was a bit worried about the f/4 optics - I have to collimate my 200mm f/4 before every imaging session, it is very, very particular about being in alignment. An f/5 system, I think, would be a bit more user friendly, particularly for someone who probably hasn't heard the term "collimation"

 

I'll add the zhumell to the list of options... we'll see where it goes!



#15 Binojunky

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 10:05 AM

I,ve had two of these, they do vary in optical quality, the second sample offered a better performance level than the first, Perhaps the small longer focal length XT4.5" dob from Orion is a better option?, TD.



#16 Sky Muse

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 07:18 AM

Let's compare, and reflect, upon the options...

 

Orion 4.5"(114mm) f/4 - $209 + $9.95 shipping = $219.94, and after placing in the virtual cart

450mm focal-length

32mm ocular: 14x

6mm ocular: 75x

6mm combined with a 2x barlow, and for a simulated 3mm: 150x

 

Zhumell Z130/Meade MLB 130/AWB OneSky, and all 5"(130mm) f/5 - $199 + free shipping

650mm focal length

32mm: 20x

6mm: 108x

6mm and 2x barlow: 216x

 

I'd prefer even the OneSky over the Orion; maybe, to be perfectly honest; and yes, quite frankly, the closed tube of the Orion just might win me over in that contest.

 

As with any fast telescope, it is a given that low-power wide-field magnifications are to be had, but it is also desirable that moderate to even higher magnifications are made manifest for meaningful lunar and planetary study, not to mention that of double-stars.  A 130mm f/5 trumps a 114mm f/4 in said versatility, and for a well-rounded observing experience; not only in having an extra 200mm of focal-length, but an extra half-inch of aperture thrown into the bargain, and for less money; much less money in fact...

 

To clear up the collimation concern regarding the Z130, and on page 6(9)... https://cdn.shopify....955087525164766

 

Interestingly, the manual also covers the Zhumell Z114, which appears hauntingly similar to Orion's.  Hmm, the Z114 114mm f/4 is $70.94 cheaper than Orion's 114mm f/4...

 

https://www.telescop...pHRcaAj2X8P8HAQ

 

Let's have an even closer look, shall we?

 

Both 114mm f/4 reflectors come with two oculars, Kellners or MAs, yet the Z114 does not come with a stamped-metal eyepiece tray screwed into the particle board.  Pity, that, but for an extra three $20 bills and a ten swelling my wallet, not to mention 94ยข jingling in my pocket, I'd rather make my own; even out of East Indian rosewood, given the savings.

 

Reviews of the Meade and Zhumell are scant at best.  The Zhumell is perhaps even lesser known than the Meade, not only due to its being sold by only one vendor here in the States, but Zhumell, as a brand, not a maker, is a relative newcomer.  Meade has been around for many years, for more than Orion, and the company's 130mm f/5 already has one YouTube video to its credit.  Orion-branded products, on the other hand, are also sold through Amazon.com, in addition to the model in question having been on the market for a much longer span...

 

...too long.



#17 tony_spina

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 10:31 AM

I would go with the zhumell 130.  In my opinion Orion is overpriced 



#18 Hesiod

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 11:53 AM

You may look also for the Skywatcher Heritage 130/650 (exactly the same telescope offered by AWB), it can be purchsed through Amazon.

I wanted the AWB model, but there are not shipped outside U.S.A., so had to go for the Heritage version.

It look nice from outside too, with the ancient astronomers' names written all around the tube.

 

Another option, for around the same budget, could be a Virtuoso 90mm MC (by Skywatcher, with a table-top autotracking mount) or a 90/1250 MC coupled with a table top mount or a small Eq1 (either with table top or field tripod): this telescope may be somewhat easier to employ (there are very high chanches that the sample will be collimated and will retain its collimation) and can sustain pretty high magnification (120-140x).

The smaller aperture will hurt (especially if compared to the 130/650), but is imho a very proficient little telescope



#19 SteveG

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 02:41 PM

If you don't need collapsible then the Zuhmell is the clear choice in my opinion. It is what I'm currently recommending for fist scope purchases.



#20 penguinx64

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:01 PM

I have a Starblast 4.5 and it's my main scope.  I like how easy it is to use and how portable it is.  I really like the simple table top mount, but there isn't always a suitable table available.  It only weighs 13 lbs and it's easy to move one handed with the built-in handle and I can set it up very quickly.  I get much better views with the Starblast 4.5  than with binoculars or my Meade 70x600mm budget refractor.  I found 3 limitations with this scope.  First, at f/4 it needs to be collimated frequently to get good views of Jupiter.  Second, exit pupil size is only 1mm at 114x.  Third, at f/4, it's difficult to find inexpensive wide angle eyepieces that work well without coma or astigmatism.  Standard 50-52mm Plossls work just fine if you don't mind short eye relief.  I had some great views of the moon using a 24mm Kson ortho and a 3x Orion Tri-mag barlow at 56x with a 2mm exit pupil.  Going over 150x is really pushing it for this small aperture scope.  I've gone as high as 185x viewing Saturn on a good night, once, using a 5x focal extender and a 12mm Ortho, and a #8 light yellow filter.  This scope is best suited for wide angle 55-60 degree views at 35-50x magnification using 12mm and 9mm eyepieces.  Great for Orion, the Pleiades, Cygnus and Perseus constellations.  I plan to upgrade to a full 8 inch Dob someday, but for now the Starblast 4.5 is very convenient when I don't have much storage space.



#21 JoeinWV

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Posted 26 May 2016 - 05:25 PM

My Starblast(EQ) hold collimations very good, only had to do it once when new. 

The eq comes with Expanse eps, which I think better than the kellners.

 

Also, I have seen the eq version several times on Amazon at the same price as the tabletop...$209.

 

Might check out Ed Ting review:

http://www.scoperevi...om/page1ab.html




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