At about the medium price range is this very highly recommended Orion StarBlast 90mm AZ Telescope that comes with everything but the kitchen sink. Orion pulled out all the stops with this model making it strong, portable and full of extras. It is a major seller and has a lot of features that will interest users of all levels. Despite all the extra features you can look forward to great stability and mechanics that don’t beat you over the head with bad usability. Even with all of the advanced features it is one of the easier to use scopes available on the market.

Style

There is only one style to this telescope, and it works well for getting a variety of stargazing tasks done. Using a combination of red and black it has a very professional look that may even surprise veteran users with more expensive telescopes. The finish on this product is made to last and is very easy on the eyes without standing out too much. It has a run of the mill design that doesn’t do too much with the amount of spacing between the controls. They managed to put the essentials in easy to reach places while putting the advanced controls nearby without it being a major issue.

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Recommended Level

Surprising this works well for beginners, and could last all the way up to the expert level. Its range for levels is pretty substantial, and would probably be greater if they swapped out some of the lesser accessories for a better Barlow kit. It’s a small trade off with the included beginner kit that makes it so versatile, so it is hard to envision the StarBlast without it. The way Orion setup the telescope even completely green beginners should have no trouble getting a grasp of the controls. And if it is still an issue the manual goes into great detail describing what each feature is for and when is the proper time to use it.

Durability

As a telescope and tripod combo, it is pretty good on the durability front. The tripod by itself is solid, but lacks a bit of weight if you want to nitpick. The lack of weight doesn’t stop it from being level when using it on grass thanks to the bottom feat of the tripod. But there is a definite lack of heft that makes it feel like light plastic rather than sturdy steel. The telescope is almost as heavy as the tripod, but doesn’t get any benefit from the extra weight. It is about average for durability, so taking good care of it will go a long way if you want it to last.

Pros

Look forward to being able to view everything with the powerful 90mm aperture 660mm focal length, which provides great long and wide angles to view at night. The slow motion controls are easy to master on the altazimuth mount so when that once in a lifetime comet streaks across the sky, you won’t miss it due to clunky controls. More accessories than the normal purchase are included with this set, and it doesn’t just target beginners with these extras. They can be used by all types for years, regardless of level.

Cons

If looking for a beginner scope, price may be a bit more than what you would want to spend, especially if you don’t know if this hobby will stick. All of the extras might be overwhelming for some, even with the included documentation. The Barlow lens included are average 2x zoom, and would have been better long-term if they were 4x or 6x. A bag is not included so you will have to purchase one separately that fits if you plan on using this a lot away from the house. Make sure that whatever bag is purchased has compartments for the many extras that comes included in the set.

Included Accessories

As mentioned before, it comes with a Shorty 2x Barlow set that doubles the magnification of both eyepieces. It is a nice boost but would be a lot more beneficial if it had higher magnification capabilities. Also in the set is the Star Target Planisphere and MoonMap 260, a perfect companion set for buyers that want to jump right into their favorite spots in the galaxy. It not only helps with planning but serves as an indirect tutorial to looking at the stars. As a last bit of good favor Orion packed in the Discover the Stars book which is a great read no matter what level you’re at. That alone will eat up an hour of time before you even touch the telescope.

Value

This is one of the best values currently out for a telescope, as it comes in an all in one package that is surely the perfect match for all levels. Since it can be used by anyone, the value skyrockets as it makes the perfect gift. The only thing missing is a bag, but that can be picked up for a nominal price from anywhere. And seasoned stargazers will already have a backup bag capable of fitting this scope. The durability tops out at average for all of the pieces, so it will come down to how well the individual user takes care of the telescope over the course of its life. Although a few dings or nicks won’t bother it, a bad drop could really lower the value if this is your main telescope.

Lasting Appeal

Expect this to last for multiple years if it is well maintained. There is no reason that this can’t be the first and last telescope you will ever need to buy, in which case you can just boost the power with add-ons when you feel it gets underpowered for your taste. These minor purchases aren’t a killer on the wallet and just makes it that much more attractive to someone that wanted a one all be all telescope. There are a lot of things to learn about the telescope that may take months to master. Buyers that want to have the ability to handle any telescope put in front of them will love fooling around with this one.

Best Comparison

The slightly cheaper Orion Observer 70mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope Kit may win some people over if they want to spend a little bit less. The downside is that you get about the same accessories but you also get a permanent bump down in power to 70mm. With the little you save in this deal it would make more sense to go with the StarBlast 90mm as it is a better long-term bet, and the better deal overall. That isn’t saying that the Observer isn’t a nice find, but if comparing the two then it is a clear cut winner for the more expensive item with the more powerful telescope.

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Summary

This is a telescope bundle that is too good to pass up for all levels, and will surely be the safest bet for a gift if you planned on getting a telescope for someone. There isn’t anything this product can’t do, and for the price it is a beast. Don’t get swayed in by lower costing cheaper products with less flair, as this has all you’ll ever need.