Orion StarBlast 4.5″ Reflector Telescope Review – 2021 Update

Ease of Use

4/5

Optical Quality

4/5

Mount Quality

3.5/5

Overall Score

4/5

Overview

One of the most affordable reflectors on the market, this fast f/4.0 telescope is an ideal option for beginners. It makes locating celestial objects easy, and the optical components are high-quality given the low price. Astronomers hoping to get a great look at some showpiece objects in our solar system without investing in a high-end scope are sure to love the Orion StarBlast II 4.5.

Vital Statistics

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Introduction

The StarBlast line from Orion is one of the most accessible telescope lines globally, and it provides new astronomers with a gateway to the hobby.

The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 equatorial telescope makes it easy to track celestial objects and offers an optical quality that draws new stargazers into the hobby and leaves them wanting more. 

With this telescope, Orion strikes a delicate balance between affordability and quality. For around $200 (today’s price) you’ll enjoy many premium features such as Plössl eyepieces, ultra-fast f/4.0 optics, and an expansive 4.5” (114mm) aperture.

The StarBlast line of telescopes is Orion’s largest, and it includes several different refractor and reflector scopes, all aimed at new hobbyists. At the high end of the line is Orion’s tabletop 6i reflector scope, while the StarBlast II 4.5 and 90mm AltAz options round out the lower end of the spectrum. 

The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 is the most affordable telescope in the line, thanks in part to the bare bones EQ-1 mount that’s included. Some other StarBlast scopes include higher quality computerized mounts, which drive up the price, whereas the StarBlast II 4.5 offers the same optical quality with a more affordable mount. 

Orion’s 4.5″ StarBlast Telescope

Things to Consider Before Buying 

The StarBlast II strikes a delicate balance between quality and value. It’s an ideal first telescope for a beginner to get started within the hobby (click the link to see our other choices in a new tab).

This scope features a reasonably large 4.5” aperture that draws in enough light for you to enjoy many showpiece objects in the sky. The large aperture combined with the short focal length makes for a fast telescope.

This generally means lower magnifications and larger fields of view. The images you see will also be brighter than in a longer focal length scope of the same aperture. Taken together, this all makes spotting galaxies and nebulae easier for new astronomers. Of course, this scope is also very accomplished at seeing details on the brighter Moon and planets as well.

This is a Newtonian reflector, and high-quality Newtonians are more affordable to produce than other telescopes, such as refractors and Cassegrains, so you’re able to get more bang for your buck. The other upside of reflectors is they don’t suffer from chromatic aberration – where colors can split in the eyepiece.

Newtonians are subject to coma, which is an artifact of the curved mirror. It makes stars, especially near the edge of the field, appear to flare inwards. This is especially true in fast models like this one, but it is not disruptive to viewing, i.e. it’s a problem you have to look for rather than one that you can’t avoid. 

The main work of a reflector, as the name suggests, is done by mirrors reflecting the light they collect to an eyepiece that you look through. The primary mirror sits inside (usually) three adjustable clips so that you can make sure the alignment is perfect.

You may have heard of this and be intimidated by it, but you needn’t be. It is easy to collimate a telescope, even for beginners, and we’ve produced a full video guide to collimation (opens in a new tab).

This scope performs best at lower magnifications. Its relatively wide field of view is ideal for seeing many sights within our solar system, as well as many brighter deep-sky objects, such as the Andromeda Galaxy and Pleiades.

With this scope, objects are easy to track, especially when using the EQ-1 mount’s slow-motion controls. 

Features & Benefits 

Thanks to its ease of use and high-quality optics, the StarBlast II 4.5 is one of the most accessible telescopes for beginners. Whether this is the telescope you have your heart set on, or you’re weighing-up different options, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider to find the perfect telescope for your needs. 

  • Optical Performance
  • Mount Performance
  • Included Equipment
  • Setup & Use 
  • What You Can See

Standard Magnification Table

The table below shows the magnification levels you’ll achieve with this scope using a 25mm, 18mm, and 10mm eyepiece. The bottom row shows what this would be with a 2x Barlow Lens.

Eyepiece:25mm18mm10mm
Magnification:18x25x45x
With 2x Barlow:36x50x90x
Table shows magnifications in this model

Optical Performance

Given the price point, it is pleasing to learn that this popular Newtonian reflector, delivers surprisingly impressive views of some of the sky’s premier showpiece objects.

The parabolic lens of this scope is made from soda-lime plate glass, and while it isn’t exactly a cutting-edge material, it still provides crisp and clear views of the sky. 

As mentioned earlier, you won’t experience any chromatic aberration with this scope but it is subject to some slight coma around the edges of the field when you look through the telescope. The coma is very subtle and doesn’t affect the viewing experience. 

Within the StarBlast range, there are a few comparable scopes. Including the original StarBlast 4.5, which is practically identical, but features a small wooded alt-az mount instead of the equatorial mount that’s included here.

The larger StarBlast reflectors are better suited to deep sky viewing, and many include computerized mounts that make it even easier to track objects across the sky. However, there is no motorized equatorial mount in the range, only tabletop.

One of the high points of this scope is the included eyepieces. Most scopes in this price range provide mediocre optical quality and fragile plastic housing. The StarBlast II 4.5 includes not one but two high-quality Sirius Plössl eyepieces which offer impressive clarity and sharpness, and a solid metal build. 

10mm and 25mm eyepieces are included, and they deliver 50x and 20x magnifications, respectively. This scope performs best at lower magnifications, so these scopes are a perfect starting point for your collection. You may want to also add a 2x Barlow lens to double the magnification or a zoom eyepiece for a range of magnification. 

With its 4.5” aperture and relatively low magnification, this telescope provides a wide field of view that’s ideal for viewing many of the showpiece objects of our solar system as well as brighter nebulae and galaxies.

This telescope performs well for viewing the planets and our Moon, but you’ll need to invest in a higher-powered lens to view surface details with more clarity.

Mount Performance

The EQ-1 mount is a pared-down version of the large and expensive German EQ mounts popular for large scopes and astrophotography. Considering how affordable this mount is, it’s not a surprise that it lacks many of the features of pricier EQ mounts. 

The mount is relatively easy to set up and maneuver. All you’ll need to do is level the tripod, attach the optical tube, and align the polar axis of the mount with Polaris.

Large motions can be handled by pushing the optical tube in whichever direction you need, while finer adjustments are handled with slow-motion controls, making it incredibly easy to follow objects through the sky. 

Since this mount is relatively lightweight, vibration is noticeable. Pricier mounts typically have the build and mass to dampen or eliminate vibrations, but you can take low-cost / free steps to reduce vibration on this mount.

Overall, this mount is ideal for what it does. It only needs to hold a small, light telescope, and it is firmly marketed at beginners and hobbyists, i.e. it needs to be good enough to see the cloud bands of Jupiter or surface features on Mars, but not deliver pristine images of some faint nebula for a professional astrophotographer.

This is exactly what the EQ1 mount delivers and it does it well.

Included Equipment

The contents of the Orion StarBlast 4.5" telescope box
What’s in the box with the StarBlast 4.5″ telescope

Beyond the optical tube, mount, and all of the accessories required to set up the telescope, Orion manages to throw in a few helpful extras that will get any amateur stargazer off to a good start. 

Inside the box, you’ll also find an EZ Finder II red-dot sight that makes it easier to find celestial objects and center them within the frame as you look through the eyepiece. While there are better options for a sight or finderscope, this little tool is good for getting started and easy to upgrade. Learn how to align your finderscope

You’ll also receive a copy of Orion’s MoonMap 260, which will make it easy for you to explore the incredible features of the Moon. From hundreds of craters to rocky mountains and ancient valleys, you could spend hours working with the MoonMap and still discover incredible new characteristics the next time you point your telescope at our lunar neighbor. 

Setup & Use 

Getting your Orion StarBlast II 4.5 ready for use is incredibly easy, and you should be able to get your new telescope up and running in just a few short minutes, even if you’ve never operated a scope before. 

All you’ll need to do is attach the optical tube to the EQ mount with the included tube rings, ensure it’s balanced, and line up the polar axis with Polaris. If the scope isn’t properly balanced, you’ll want to add the included counterweight to balance everything out. 

With its relatively short focal length and highly portable EQ mount, the StarBlast II 4.5 is one of the easiest scopes to transport. Whether you’re stowing it away in your trunk or traveling by foot, this lightweight scope is ready to take the journey with you. 

As a reflector scope, the internal mirror will occasionally need to be adjusted, especially if you often travel with your telescope. Collimation involves adjusting the mirror to the proper angle to provide optimal viewing. Many beginners are afraid to collimate their scopes, but it’s an easy process that you’ll be able to learn quickly with our collimation guide

This telescope doesn’t include any additional software to have to learn, so it’s genuinely a point-and-shoot option that allows newbies to get out there and enjoy the sky without any barriers. Orion does have a motor drive available for this mount that costs well under $100 to automatically track objects through the sky. Still, as a beginner, it isn’t especially necessary. 

What You Can See

Whether you’re considering a $200 telescope or a $2,000 one, the most crucial consideration will always be what you’re able to see when you use it. Some scopes are better suited for objects in our solar system, while others thrive when viewing deep sky objects (DSOs) like far-off galaxies and nebulae. 

With its 4.5” aperture, the StarBlast II is a solid all-purpose scope that will allow you to achieve breathtaking views of many objects in our solar system, including the Moon, Jupiter’s cloud belts, the rings of Saturn, double stars, and much more.

You’ll also be able to enjoy some of the brighter DSOs and Messier objects, such as the Pleiades. However, if you’re especially interested in viewing the deep-sky, you’ll want a scope that with a larger aperture to capture more light, such as the SkyQuest XT6 Dobsonian from Orion (see our review).

If you’re interested in astrophotography, you’ll want to look for a scope with a more robust mount that offers motorized tracking. While you can add a motor to the EQ-1 mount, it has a limited weight capacity, so you won’t be able to attach a heavy camera or other accessories without overloading the mount. Take a look at our astrophotography telescopes guide.

Overall, new astronomers will be pleased with the views that can be enjoyed with this cheap but versatile telescope.

Users’ Viewpoint 

As one of the most popular beginner scopes on the market, there’s no shortage of talk about the StarBlast II 4.5 on the internet. Here’s what other astronomers have to say about this telescope.

Paulymo’s review on CloudyNights (source)
Chadnich13’s review on Stargazer’s Lounge (source)

Overall Verdict

The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 is an ideal telescope for beginners on a budget because it offers quality optics. It’s easy to use, and it’s one of the most affordable scopes on the market.

Despite the low price, you’ll have no trouble enjoying some of the most extraordinary objects in the night sky with this powerful telescope.

Click here for today’s price, or to buy the Orion StarBlast 4.5″ EQ Reflector Telescope