Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Review

The SpaceProbe 130ST EQ is a fine, first-time telescope for any newbie who wants to learn how to track celestial bodies as well as seek further into space for those DSOs (Deep Sky Objects).

Fortunately, the SpaceProbe comes with decent accessories that make this possible, and it is on an equatorial mount that allows manual tracking.

But, can it be equipped with a motor drive? Is the SpaceProbe good for astrophotography?

We’ll answer these questions to see if there really is usable potential in the telescope or if it’s all hype.

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: Large aperture

Worst Feature: Poor setup instructions

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, DSO Viewing, Beginners, Intermediates

  • Optical Design: Reflector
  • Aperture: 130 mm
  • Focal Length: 650 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 10 mm

Our Verdict: The SpaceProbe 130ST EQ is a solid telescope with plenty of potential. Sold as is with its accessory package, it’s a decent purchase for the beginner buyer. Due to its optical quality and mechanics, it’s a telescope that will be in use for a long time to come.

Who is the Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Best Suited to?

The SpaceProbe 130ST EQ is a large telescope with a 130 mm (5.1”) aperture that is just shy of a 6” Dobsonian. So, why go this route instead of a Dob with more “scope” for the money?

Well, if you want to try your hand at equatorial mounts and enjoy the benefits of lighter weight for portability, then the SpaceProbe should be considered. Beginners will have a plethora of online materials to learn the tricks to the trade, and it’s still reasonably affordable for a first-buy telescope. Intermediates will keep this telescope for a long time to come and it can be equipped with a motor drive for automatic tracking.

The potential is there, but are you willing to learn how to maximize its performance?

How Does the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ Perform?

The optical tube provides fine viewing, and the necessary accessories and attachments are better quality than what is normally packaged with scope kits. While the Newtonian reflector has an EQ mount that presents its own set of issues, there are some key methods that you can use to get around it and make the most of the mounting system.

A sturdier tripod would be an excellent upgrade to minimize shake and tremors, but the optics itself is fundamentally sound. Seeking out DSOs is within your grasp.

Features & Benefits

Large Aperture

This is a reflector telescope with a large 5.1” aperture – it’s big. The bigger the scope, the more light can get in. With a large aperture and a fast f/5 focal ratio, you’ll have a nice wide field of view for stargazing and seeking out nebulae and other DSOs. Its primary mirror is parabolic, so there will be little to no noticeable aberration.

This is an important aspect to recognize as many cheap, entry-level reflector scopes now have spherical mirrors to save on cost. Spherical mirrors paired with the right focal length perform just fine, but with a short one as this, image and focus issues would be annoyingly apparent. The gist of it is, more scope, more light, more to see.

Good Accessories

Along with having the right optics includes having good eyepieces. Sirius Plossl 25 mm and 10 mm eyepieces are included with the SpaceProbe. They provide 26x and 65x magnification. Theoretical maximum magnification is 260x, but to really maintain image quality think 4mm eyepiece or a 2x Barlow lens to get more power and study details.

A 6×30 achromatic finder is also included and it does a decent job of revealing more stars in the sky than your naked eye. It does present an inverted image, but so does your telescope, so make sure to flip your star charts. If you prefer a different Orion finder, you can always switch it out with one that fits a dovetail base.

Since this is a reflector scope, collimation must be performed. It does come with a collimation cap, but you may need Allen keys and/or a laser to get it done efficiently and quickly.

Portable

Because the entire assembly of the SpaceProbe is only 24.2 lbs, it’s incredibly portable and convenient for travel. This is one of the major benefits of this telescope versus Dobsonians – its light weight. The tube itself is 6.2 lbs with a short length of 24”. The tripod and mount weighs 18 lbs.

Weighing so little, there is some instability that results in shakiness and/or tremors. With practice and gentle touches, you can minimize this, but there’s not much that you can do against the wind unless you upgrade the tripod. Don’t forget to install the 4.8 lb counterweight.

EQ2 Mount

Ah yes, the EQ mount. You either love it or you hate it. The EQ2 is a manual equatorial mount with setting circles and slow-motion hand controls. With no polar scope or sighting hole on the mount, you can’t get a precise polar alignment, but you can do a rough alignment that is more than good enough for visual purposes.

As an EQ mount, you can easily track bodies in the sky with the hand controls, and this model is available for upgrade with a separate purchase of a clock drive for hands-free tracking.

It’s not the sturdiest mount ever and it does raise some steadiness issues when the tripod is fully extended, but it’s equipped to hold up to 7lbs which the tube barely weighs. Additionally, instead of incorporating a dovetail and saddle, the tube is simply bolted to the EQ2, and as for the setting circles, they’re pretty much just décor add-ons.

Limited Astrophotography

As is, the SpaceProbe can handle webcam-style cameras and possibly smartphones with an adapter. The mount cannot handle anything heavier like a DSLR camera, and if you were using an autoguider to counteract for the EQ2’s lack of precision, it’s out of the question. So, long exposure astrophotography can’t be done unless you’re willing to dump more money into it than the SpaceProbe costs.

So, what can you do? Photos would be limited to the moon and planets within our solar system. Yes, you can make manual adjustments to track, and if you purchase Barlow lenses to increase the focal ratio, you can likely achieve quality planetary imaging. Great for amateur photos, not so for serious astrophotography.

Limitations

Poor Setup Instructions

Unfortunately, many buyers complain about the poor instructions. After having read them myself, they seem decent, but it’s much easier for beginners to get an idea if they watch someone do it themselves. If you have experience setting up a telescope, this process can be done rather quickly from 15-30 minutes.

However, beginners may take an hour or longer. Watching tutorials, online videos, and reading user forums about the SpaceProbe will help to create a better picture of taking advantage of its setup, collimation, polar alignment, and more.

Popular Questions

Can I Use a DSLR Camera with the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ?

The SpaceProbe is not designed to be used with DSLR cameras because it won’t reach focus. You can use a different type of camera such as a smartphone or an eyepiece camera. However, it has been done. You must have the correct adapters to attach the camera, increase the focal length with a Barlow lens, and you should double check that the included counterweight is able to support the added weight.

You will have to make manual adjustments for tracking, or you can purchase a motor drive for hands-free tracking. For long exposure DSO photography, there still may be some coma, apparent blurriness, and noticeable drift that is in part due to the mount’s less than perfect polar alignment.

Where is the Orion Telescope Made?

The SpaceProbe is manufactured in China. It is not made in the United States, but they follow specs and quality control standards as is compliant with USA and Orion policies.

Does the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ come with a Case?

A carry case is not included in the purchase. You will have to buy one separately. Orion recommends the 15164 model with 47x11x14” padded case that fits the tube, mount, and tripod.

Can this Reflector Telescope be used for Terrestrial Viewing?

No. This is made for celestial viewing where image orientation is less important. It also has an EQ mount that supports tracking of celestial bodies on a polar axis and is not designed for tracking and viewing terrestrial objects.

Is this a Good Telescope for the Beginner?

This is a great telescope for the beginner. The price point and accessories included have decent quality and the optical tube is excellent. The mount is decent and provides some necessary skills needed to learn manual tracking, but it does have the option of upgrading to a motorized drive if that is something you desire in the future.

As far as photography, it can be used for crude, amateur photos, but is not an astrophotography telescope as it’s designed for visual purposes only. Great for youngsters in their teens, but they will require help with setting up and learning how to use it.

Conclusion

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST EQ certainly lives up to its “ST” reputation of having a short tube. The 24” is obviously better for portability, and with a fast focal ratio, it’s also good for wide-field viewing, and image quality is excellent since it maintains the parabolic mirror.

It’s a great telescope that will bring plenty of enjoyment for many observers.

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