Marketed as a “grab and go” telescope, the Orion StarBlast intrigued me for its combination of reflector power and advertised portability. Usually, reflectors aren’t super portable and the ones that are can be a hassle to use so I jumped in ready to see if this telescope was up to snuff. The Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro is a reflector telescope with a 4.5” primary aperture and tabletop mount that is compact and light for ultimate portability.
It has decent specs but might not fill everyone’s specific telescope needs as the small size limits the magnification and focal ratio.
- Reflector telescope
- 4.5” primary aperture
- f/4 focal ratio
- 228x highest theoretical magnification
- 13lbs assembled weight
The price, size, and portability make this telescope a versatile grab and go telescope for the on the go astronomer but it does have a few downsides.Check Latest Price
Grab and Go Optics
With a 4.5” primary aperture the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Telescope is a respectable reflector. It is not huge but it does not want to be. The aperture size plus the short focal length of 450mm makes this telescope very squat and compact.
The aperture is big enough to let in enough light to see some of the best sights of the night sky. However, the short focal length really cuts down the focal ratio. The focal ratio of f/4 is very low. If this is what you want out of your telescope then this is perfect but if you’re not expecting such a wide-angle telescope then it can be a letdown.
With such a low focal ratio the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Telescope is going to struggle to see certain sights like individual planets and stars compared to trying to see a larger more distant object. Some people even reported not being able to get a lock on the moon, because they are not using the small focal ratio properly.
You can definitely get this telescope to focus on brighter, narrow-focused objects but it might take a little bit of tweaking or experience to get it right. Otherwise, this telescope is great for looking at star clusters, nebula, and galaxies. Things that view better with more space in the eyepiece than not.
These are all side effects of being so compact and portable and for that, it is a great telescope. If you like to take your stargazing with you this is a great setup.
Most telescopes advertise themselves as portable, even ones that you really don’t want to move but this one is actually very portable. The Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Telescope does not come with a tripod, it has a tabletop mount which means it is a weighted flat mount that works best when set on a flat surface. This makes it so that it really grabs and goes.
Other telescopes need to be detached, broken down and stored before traveling. This one, while not super advisable, could really be taken off the table and placed in the back seat of your car and taken with you and then immediately set down on the next surface.
It does come with lens caps to protect it so you might want to throw those on but other than that there is no needed break down or set up which you can’t say of many telescopes.
Who is this telescope best for?
This telescope would be perfect for a few different kinds of people. First, the person who spends a lot of time doing outdoor travel and activities. If you go hiking, camping or take road trips off the beaten path this could be a great telescope to tag along on your adventures. You didn’t know you wanted or needed a telescope for your adventures but now you can have one that literally sits on the picnic table next to you. It could be an easy and fun addition to any outdoor adventure in that way.
Secondly, this could work great for an educator who gives stargazing parties or demonstrations. You could take it with you to your next dark sky locale to get the best views without any of the headache or hassle. For complete amateurs or people, you are trying to teach there are no tripods to bump or finicky angles to accidentally move out of alignment because it is sitting firmly on a flat surface.
Lastly, it could simply work best for people who don’t want to deal with setting up a tripod every night. Some people have small kids who could knock your telescope over or you get frustrated with the number of micro-motions that can be out of whack on a tripod, especially a wobbly one.
Simply put, this telescope is as portable as it says and really could be an easy grab and go telescope for any mobile occasion.
For as portable as this telescope is, I was disappointed to see that they didn’t include any portability focused accessories. The accessories included are standard if not a little scarce. They include two eyepieces, a collimation cap, reflex sight, and eyepiece rack.
The inclusion of a collimation cap is nice because reflectors always need realignment at some point and most reflectors do not include anything to help with the realignment process but this telescope does not include a case, special dust caps or a tripod. When they said to grab and go, they literally meant you can grab this thing and go, no bells and whistles added or needed.
There are worse accessory kits out there and this one isn’t too bad but it doesn’t add anything that enhances the strengths of this telescope design. The reflex sight is nice and the two eyepieces are standard with any telescope. The best thing here is the collimation cap only because they can be hard to find for specific telescopes.
All in all, it could be better and it could be worse but I feel there was a missed opportunity to customize the accessories towards the portability aspect.
The biggest drawback to this telescope is going to be for people who are looking for that high focal ratio view of the rings of Saturn in crisp, narrow detail. For that, you are going to want to get an equally portable refractor of which there are many. If you try and force this telescope set up to see the moon, or Jupiter or something like that you are going to be disappointed in the quality. That is not what it is made to do.
If you do not want a star scanning telescope that is best for general, nonspecific views of the sky then you do not want this telescope.
The other thing that could turn people off is the lack of a tripod. The flat bottomed mount is easy to use and requires no hassle or set up but it also limits your viewing areas. Without a picnic table or something similar that is flat on the top and sitting under an open sky, you are going to have a hard time using this scope.
If you are not big on the tabletop base and the lack of tripod for the sake of portability there are more traditional reflectors and refractors of the same size that come with the tripod and the standard setup for the same price. I don’t want to say this is a niche scope because it is a pretty standard optical setup but it does fill a unique need for a telescope.
You could find a portable refractor if you want those high focused views of the solar system to take along with you or a general reflector that has a little higher of a focal ratio and a tripod including ones by Orion if you like the brand.
For a telescope that likes to scream portable at you, the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Telescope really does live up to the designation. You could literally grab it off a table and run off with it and it will be none the wiser.
That only really is going to excite a certain subset of astronomers and it comes with some downsides but if that is what you want to do with your telescope then this is the one for you.
A standard reflector telescope that comes in an unusual but potentially useful package, Orion delivers a portable and functional reflector for the on the go astronomer. I don’t think this is a must-buy by any means unless you fit one of those people who really love to travel with their scope or who have the perfect backyard table to set it on.
Otherwise, it should be considered a decent telescope with some more general alternatives on the market. It has some faults but we have added it to our Best Beginner Telescope.Check Latest Price