Orion StarBlast 6i Intelliscope Reflector Telescope Review (27191)

The StarBlast 6i Intelliscope is the PushTo version of the StarBlast 6 telescope.

It’s an excellent compromise between manual and computerized technology that allows beginners to learn quicker while developing essential sky mapping skills.

Built into a tabletop design, it obviously offers reasonable portability and a light weight.

So, is it a Dobsonian or regular telescope?

Does it require WiFi and batteries? Let’s look at what it has to offer and why it’s worthy of a spot on your short list.

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: PushTo technology

Worst Feature: More expensive than 6” Dobsonians

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

  • Optical Design: Reflector
  • Aperture: 150 mm
  • Focal Length: 750 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 10 mm

Our Verdict: If you’re after a table-top design with a sturdy mount and large aperture, the StarBlast 6i has it all. Plus, you get the added feature of PushTo technology to find objects without making it too easy that you forgo learning necessary skills. It’s an excellent compromise between computerized tech and manual alignments.

Who is the Orion StarBlast 6i Intelliscope Best Suited to?

While many entry-level GoTo telescopes are not recommended for beginners, the 6i is a beast that compromises in the middle. As such, it’s suitable for beginners and intermediates may enjoy the ability to manually move the tube while incorporating the computerized object location system.

Due to its size, it’s a great alternative to Dobsonians as you can travel easier with it because it’s compact and lightweight. So, if you plan on moving to various locations to get the best views, the StarBlast’s dimensions should be an attractive feature.

How Does the Orion StarBlast 6i Intelliscope Perform?

The Intelliscope performs very well for the technology it offers. Optics and mechanics are well paired when you consider that oftentimes you may be sacrificing optical quality for GoTo capability. This isn’t the case as you still have manual control over the 6i with computerized technology at a much lower cost with PushTo tech.

In respect of the optics, you have a large 150 mm aperture whereas many telescopes may top out at 130 mm or less. With the large aperture and relatively fast focal specs, you’ll have a decent field of view and good detail to observe lunar and planetary features.

Even though the StarBlast 6i isn’t a top-end telescope, it is sure to please the visual observer and is capable of seeking out DSOs including nebulae and galaxies – if conditions allow.

Features & Benefits

PushTo Technology

What is PushTo technology? In a nutshell, the provided hand controller is computerized to provide an object location system. You select the object you want to see and then you manually move the tube with the built-in navigation knob to slew to the right position following the directional arrows on the Intelliscope’s screen.

GoTo technology would automatically move the mount and telescope to slew to the correct position. However, the argument that GoTo telescopes are not recommended for beginners is because it eliminates necessary skills that must be learned like star hopping and the like.

But, many new to the hobby often get frustrated with not being able to find what they want to see. The PushTo provides a middle ground. Additionally, where GoTo mounts fail, you can’t manually slew a telescope whereas this is not an issue for a PushTo.

Stable Mount

The 6i comes with a single-arm fork Alt-azimuth mount. What can you expect from it? It’s extremely easy to use, easy to set up, and in its table-top design, it’s steady and strong. You’ll see better stability with higher magnification viewing, but the trick is to make sure it’s sitting atop a strong and stable surface like, well, a table. You’ll have to add the table as a consideration when traveling and ensure it’s securely placed on the ground where you choose to setup site.

Portable

Obviously, as a table-top telescope, it’s reasonably compact and lightweight compared to full-size Dobs. Tube length is 28” and weighs 9 lbs. The mount weighs 16 lbs bringing the total assembly up to 25 lbs and approximate height to 3 feet tall. In comparison, a floor-mounted Dob would likely weigh an extra 10-15 lbs and can stand as tall as 4 to 5 feet. The only disadvantage you must consider is the extra weight and hauling of a table to sit the 6i on.

Good Eyepieces

The 25 mm and 10 mm eyepieces included in the package are Orion Sirius Plossl eyepieces, much better than Kellner and modified achromat units that typically come with entry-level telescopes. Respectively, they provide 30x and 75x magnification, but you can stretch that with building your eyepiece collection or adding some Barlow lenses.

The highest useful magnification is 300x, but you’ll want to max out at around 75% of that to ensure the best resolution and color fidelity. That would mean you’d want to try a 4 mm or 3 mm eyepiece to get maximum useful power for exceptional celestial viewing. Just make sure they’re 1.25” eyepieces.

Parabolic Mirror

No shortcuts are taken with the 6i Intelliscope. With a fast telescope and short focal length, you need a parabolic mirror in a reflector. This minimizes aberrations that would become apparent with spherical mirrors with these specs. Being able to resolve details like Mars’ icecaps, Jupiter’s cloudbands and Red Spot, and Saturn’s rings can be achieved.

Limited Astrophotography

This is not a long exposure astrophotography telescope. DSLR cameras will not reach focus with this optical tube unless significant modifications are made. As far as limited astrophotography goes, you can use a small webcam-style camera or smartphone. Either point and aim through the eyepiece or get an adapter to help with alignment.

Although you can see nebulae, galaxies, and meteors through the telescope, you will not be able to adequately capture images. With experimentation, you can capture lunar and planetary images.

Limitations

More Expensive than 6” Dobsonians

Interestingly, the 6i is more expensive than full-size 6” Dobsonians. The StarBlast 6 is competitive in price with full-size 6” Dobs. This means the extra cost is divided between the PushTo tech and the tabletop design with portability as a benefit. If you see value in these features, then this is the scope for you, otherwise, you can get a longer focal length, just as sturdy mount, and full-size advantages from a traditional 6” Dob.

Popular Questions

Can a Motorized Drive be Fitted to the StarBlast 6i?

No, there is no option to upgrade or fit a motor drive for automatic tracking to the Orion StarBlast 6i telescope.

What Type of Tripod does the Telescope Need?

The StarBlast 6i does not require a tripod for use as it’s designed as a table-top telescope with a mount and base. The telescope is secured to the mount via a custom bracket that is secured with tube rings. Hardware is provided and the tube rings can be secured with acceptable tightness to allow the tube to slide or rotate.

There is also a tension adjustment knob and the mount has PTFE bearings for smooth control.

What Type of Batteries does the Intelliscope Take?

The 6i Intelliscope requires a single 9V battery for operation. It’s a good idea to carry spare batteries with you to ensure maximum observation time and function. However, you can always manually navigate the night sky with the tube and incorporate other applications for finding objects.

What is the Magnification of the 6i Telescope?

Included with the telescope are two Sirius Plossl eyepieces: 25 mm (30x) and 10 mm (75x). They’re 1.25” eyepieces and if you wanted to purchase additional eyepieces, ensure they are 1.25” in size as the rack and pinion focuser only accepts 1.25” accessories.

What Accessories are Included in the Full Kit?

Both the full and standard accessory kits include the Intelliscope, 25 mm and 10 mm eyepieces, EZ Finder II Reflex sight, eyepiece rack, and collimation cap. Both come with the Starry Night SE software, but the 6i includes a card for the MoonMap 260 download.

The full accessory kit costs less than $50 more than the standard purchase and includes a 1.25” 13% Transmission Moon Filter, Star Target Planisphere, Shorty Barlow Lens, and a RedBeam Mini LED Flashlight.

Conclusion

For the money, you be the judge if the extras are worth the slight jump up in price.

The StarBlast 6i Intelliscope is a more than decent table-top telescope with great optics and extra features to maximize its potential. With PushTo convenience, beginners will get a head start in finding the objects they want to see. If travel is within your future, don’t leave the telescope behind.

The StarBlast is up for the road trip with its compact and lightweight specs. It’s a win-win for all.

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