Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Review: What’s the Point?
Orion SpaceProbe 130ST has an unnecessary set of features that will make your life harder instead of easier.
Before the review, I have to say this; don’t get the SpaceProbe 130ST if you are a beginner. It is hard to use. The optics are hard to align and have inadequate planetary performance. Look for a 6″ Dobsonian or a tabletop at the same price range. They are easier to use and have vastly superior optics. They also have better build qualities.
SpaceProbe 130ST is not for beginners.
Orion SpaceProbe 130ST is intended for astronomers who are looking for a decent EQ telescope for a budget price. Orion did the best they could, but a rock-solid EQ mount is hard to manufacture at budget prices.
Although Orion has managed to create one of the best EQ telescopes at the budget price range, SpacProbe 130ST can’t deliver on its promise of astrophotography and ease of following celestials. Most of the problems are due to the base, which I will delve into in the “Mount” section.
650mm Focal Length
Deep Space Performance
The optical design of SpaceProbe 130ST is specialized for deep-sky viewing. The combination of the 130mm aperture and 650mm optical length provides a wide field view with above-average brightness and sharpness.
SpaceProbe 130ST leans more towards deep space performance.
Such optics will require precise collimation. Although it is easy for any not-a-beginner astronomer, for beginners, the collimation process may get discouraging. Telescopes with longer optical tubes are much easier to collimate. By the way, collimation is the process of aligning the optics, if you don’t know what that means.
Overall the optics provide what they promise. Above-average deep-sky performance and decent planetary performance.
The Moon – SpaceProbe 130ST
Planetary and Lunar Performance
Planetary performance is rather disappointing with the given eyepieces. The low focal ratio makes it harder to focus at high magnifications and gather detail from Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. You need an additional planetary eyepiece to reach the planetary potential of SpaceProbe 130ST.
If you don’t get a planetary eyepiece, you will be limited to the major details. These are some stripes on Jupiter, its 4 Galilean Moon’s, and The Great Red Spot. You will be able to distinguish the Rings of Saturn, and Polar Ice Caps on Mars with some of its black stains on the surface.
A planetary eyepiece is necessary for the SpaceProbe 130ST.
If you get a planetary eyepiece such as a 6mm Goldline, you will get an extraordinary amount of detail from Solar System objects. The details on Jupiter will be much clearer, the space between the Rings of Saturn will appear, and surface detail on Mars will be easier to see.
You will see an insane amount of craters and mountain ranges on the Moon, and phases of Venus will be observable.
Uranus and Neptune will appear as blueish dots. On ideal conditions, you may get a glimpse of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.
Overall the planetary performance of SpaceProbe 130ST, out of the box, is not good. An expensive, high-quality, low-aperture eyepiece is necessary to get the most out of the SpaceProbe 130ST. Otherwise, you will be stuck with mediocre performance in this area.
Deep Space Performance
Deep space performance is much better than planetary out of the box. As I’ve mentioned before, SpaceProbe 130ST leans towards deep space performance anyway.
Pleiades, Hercules, Orion, Andromeda, are all easy targets for the SpaceProbe 130ST. Basically, the brighter Messier Catalog is in range for these optics. If you are going for deep space performance specifically, SpaceProbe 130ST won’t disappoint.
A 2″ focuser would make the deep space performance insane, but the one that comes with the SpaceProbe 130ST is 1.25″. I will delve into the focuser topic in the accessories section.
Is deep space astrophotography possible with the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST?
To image the deep space, you need hours-long exposure time and auto-tracking. You also need a DSLR camera for any amateur deep space imaging. The mount doesn’t have auto-tracking, and it is too weak to carry any DSLR camera. Unless you change the mount with something that costs more than the SpaceProbe 130ST, you won’t be able to image deep space.
Don’t get the SpaceProbe 130ST for astrophotography.
Here is what you have to know about astrophotography: it is an entirely different field. It is much more expensive than visual astronomy, harder to do, and requires an entirely different set of equipment.
SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Mount – Tripod
The mount is an equatorial, and the main advantage of such design is the ease of following celestials. You can follow anything with just the twist of a knob.
But this comes with a price. As I’ve mentioned before, an equatorial mount is not easy to manufacture and adds to the cost. At the price of SpaceProbe 130ST, you can get a SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian. The optical performance difference between these two scopes is vast, and the SkyWatcher is much more stable. It also comes with a 2″ focuser, which makes it a treat for deep sky.
Is the EQ mount worth it?
So is the EQ mount worth it? No. I don’t think it is, especially at the budget price range. If you are a person who is looking for an EQ mount specifically, you probably don’t need to read this review. If you are a beginner, don’t go for an EQ mount. Manually tracking space objects is not that hard, especially if the optical tube is attached to a butter-smooth base like the one on a Dobsonian.
10mm – 25mm Plössl Eyepieces
Red Dot Finder
The accessories that come with SpaceProbe 130ST are the same as those that come with any other telescope at this price range.
There is a 10mm and a 25mm Plössl eyepiece included in the package. These are fine eyepieces for the beginning, but they won’t provide the maximum potential of the SpaceProbe 130ST. The low focal ratio makes a planetary eyepiece necessary, but for deep space, the 25mm eyepiece will be adequate for some time.
The 6×30 finder is usable, but I would prefer a red dot finder with the SpaceProbe 130ST. The images it provides are rather dim and narrow. But the wide-field view of SpaceProbe 130ST makes finding and focusing on space objects easier.
Needs a Planetary Eyepiece
The equatorial mount makes the whole package too expensive, more unstable than the usual Dob, and harder to use.
Planetary performance is disappointing out of the box. You will need a specialized eyepiece for that. That adds to the cost.
Who should buy the SpaceProbe 130ST? People who need an equatorial mount for some reason. Those astronomers know who they are. Other than that, it would be best if you looked for a telescope with an altazimuth mount. A Dobsonian telescope would be an ideal starting point and a TableTop for budget prices.