Orion StarBlast 6 Astro Review: Baby Hubble
Orion StarBlast 6 is a delightful combination of power and portability.
It is no doubt StarBlast 6 is immensely attractive, and rightfully so. The 6” aperture is rare among tabletops, and it is combined with a remarkable build-quality. The accessories are average, but they can be upgraded in time. It has the potential to become a portable Hubble.
But, it is expensive. Its price is close to 8” Dobsonians, and higher than 6” Dobsonians. Therefore portability, is the only advantage to this remarkable tabletop.
StarBlast 6 is expensive power and portability.
750mm Focal Length
Deep Space Performer
The optics are the most impressive part of the package due to the 150mm aperture. It is safe to say this is about the limit of what a tabletop telescope can be. Apertures that are higher than that require longer optical tubes, and they lean more towards the Dobsonian realm.
The optics require precise alignment.
The f/5 focal ratio will require precise collimation, which is the alignment procedure for the optics. You will get used to it in time, but a f/8 or f/7 telescope is an easier choice for a beginner, which require longer optical tubes. This is one of the sacrifices you will make for portability if you are keen on getting the StarBlast 6.
The planetary performance is better than %90 of the tabletop telescopes due to the unusually wide aperture.
StarBlast 6 will go up to 300x, which is ridiculous considering this is a tabletop. But to achieve that power you will need a high-quality 2x Barlow lens and a low aperture eyepiece such as a 6mm Goldline. These will all add to the cost.
To achieve the potential of StarBlast 6 you will need to spend more.
If you make these expenses, the amount of detail you will gather from the Solar System will be mesmerizing.
Jupiter will show its many stripes, its Great Red Spot and 4 Galilean Moon’s. The moons will appear as spheres instead of tiny bright disks.
Rings of Saturn are a piece of cake as well as its many moons. Saturn’s largest moon Titan will be distinguishable, and the Cassini Division will be visible.
The phases of Venus are easy to observe with the StarBlast 6.
Uranus and Neptune will appear as blueish dots, and Neptune’s largest moon Triton will be visible.
Mars will show some surface detail as black stains in the middle and white stains on the top. The white stains are Polar Ice Caps, and the blacks are due to the nature of the surface.
The amount of craters and mountain ranges you will be able to observe on the Lunar Surface is ridiculous. This is boosted by the color accuracy a reflector is able to provide. If you are going for Lunar observations, this is a no-brainer.
Overall the planetary performance is quite impressive, but remember, these are all achieved by high-quality eyepieces. With the 10mm Plössl eyepiece that comes with the telescope, you won’t achieve half of these observations. I will delve into the eyepiece in the accessories section.
Deep Space Performance
The deep space performance of StarBlast 6 is unrivaled among tabletops.
The deep space performance of StarBlast 6 is even more impressive due to the low focal ratio. The wide-field view allows large deep space objects to be observed easily with a great amount of detail and brightness. These objects include the Andromeda and M33 Galaxy. These objects cover a large part of the sky, and are easier to observe with a low focal ratio telescope such as StarBlast 6.
Brighter Messier objects are easy targets. These include The Hercules, Orion, Ring Nebula and Orion Nebula.
For deep space performance, StarBlast 6 is unrivaled. There is no better tabletop telescope for deep space.
Butter Smooth Connections
Friction Adjuster for Vertical Axis
The mount is the usual tabletop, nothing more or less. It provides rock-solid stability with butter smooth motion in each axis. But you will need a rock-solid table for rock-solid motion.
There is a tension adjuster for the vertical axis. It does its job very well, and you won’t need anything more with a tabletop this size. Balance will not be a huge issue due to the short optical tube.
If you are a beginner you should know that the difference between a tripod model and a tabletop or a Dobsonian model is vast. Beginner level tripod telescopes can’t achieve the stability and smoothness of these types of mounts.
Overall there is not much to say about the mount. It does its job well on all areas. A tabletop mount is hard to screw up.
Finder – Eyepieces – Focuser
10mm Plössl Eyepiece
25mm Plössl Eyepiece
Red Dot Finder
The accessories of StarBlast 6 are easy choices. Not because they are high-quality, but because they come with all the other slightly expensive beginner models.
StarBlast 6 comes with a 10mm(75x) and a 25mm(30x) Plössl eyepiece. These are adequate eyepiece for this telescope, but they won’t achieve StarBlast 6’s potential.
As I’ve said before 300x is the maximum amount of magnification this telescope is able to achieve. 75x is nowhere near that. But I’m not mad at Orion for not sending a low aperture eyepiece. A high-quality, low-aperture eyepiece is expensive and it would only drive the price up to senseless levels.
This telescope desperately needs a low aperture eyepiece.
The finder is the usual red dot. It is cheap, but it does its job well. It just projects a red dot on a screen. It is easy to align. I personally prefer it over slightly more expensive scope finders.
The 1.25” focuser would normally be narrow for a telescope at this price. But the f/5 focal ratio counteracts it with a wide-field view, and thus the focuser becomes perfectly adequate. If you upgrade it to a 2” focuser then great, but it is not necessary. The 1.25” focuser does its job really well, and you won’t need to upgrade it for a long time.
Overall the accessories are pretty good. I appreciate the simplicity. There are only 4 pieces of accessories that come with the StarBlast 6, and all of them are useful. This is surprisingly rare among beginner telescopes as the include useless accessories that only drive the price up.
The answer to the question of StarBlast 6 is portability and nothing else. It is a portable powerhouse, and it demands a higher price for that. Especially considering the fact that this telescope needs high-quality, low-aperture eyepieces.
StarBlast 6 is expensive portability.