PROS / The large aperture is going to bring in some great, bright views of the moon and planets as well as deep-sky objects.
CONS / This telescope was difficult to assemble.
VERDICT / The Orion StarBlast 6i provides instructions to help you find the targets you’re looking for. Once you find them, the wide-aperture views are nice.
We love the Orion StarBlast 6i Intelliscope because of its many strong capabilities. Its aperture alone is better than most beginner telescopes, and it can tell you how to find the best views, no matter the time of year. Like all of the products in our telescope reviews, this one comes with a tripod. The stability wasn’t bad, but was somewhat shaky at times. You will want to be sure you are familiar with the various nobs on the tripod, because it’s easy to inadvertently turn the wrong one and send the scope crashing to the ground. We managed to avoid having this happen but had a close call.
This scope was the most difficult to assemble of the ones we tested. We were missing a few parts but luckily had replacements from a previous model we tested. As a result of that and other difficulties, it took nearly an hour to assemble this telescope despite having multiple testers working on it.
Although this model is one of our telescopes for beginners that is not fully go-to capable, we are still quite fond of the Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope. The 6 is very important: That refers to the 6-inch aperture – which is a lot of light-gathering capability, especially for a starter scope. We were impressed with the brilliant, wide views of the sky it provided. We found clusters of stars that weren’t at all visible to the naked eye, and it beautifully enhanced stars that were extremely dim without the help of this device.
With that much aperture, you can see crisp views of the moon and planets as well as deep-sky objects such as nebulae, galaxies and star clusters. Also, with this much aperture, it makes sense that this unit will weigh more than other beginner telescopes, and it does – 23.5 pounds when fully assembled.
Your adventures with StarBlast begin with an alignment process. Once the telescope knows where it is in the universe, it will illuminate digital arrows in your view through the eyepiece to direct you. You are the one who actually moves the telescope, but the telescope tells you where to move it. It’s like playing Marco Polo with the sky.
Orion has built 12 tours of the best objects to view into the system. Just tell the scope’s keypad what month you’re in, and it will push through a trip around the best objects that are visible in the sky at any given time. You can turn the tables on the computer too – hunt around the sky by eye until you find something interesting, push a key and the display tells you what you’re looking at.
For most beginners, this will not be as easy to use as a go-to scope, but the push-to feature will at least remove some of the mystery, and the push-to function requires much less battery power. Some go-to telescope users will eventually want to invest in a portable power supply, but StarBlast never needs more than a 9-volt battery.
The base comes pre-assembled, but you actually have to take a bit of it apart to add the encoders that make the push-to feature work. This accounts for why it takes more time than the setup of our other telescopes for beginners.
However, despite the extra aperture, it is still a relatively compact telescope, even when it's fully assembled, so it would be pretty easy for city dwellers to throw it in the front seat of a car and make their way to a place with less light pollution.
Orion support for this telescope, and all of its products, is helpful. So, if you do get stuck, you can always call the toll free number, e-mail customer support or jump on the live chat feature.
You won't discover planets unknown with this telescope, but you will discover a deeper passion for space. With the StarBlast 6i IntelliScope, you trade some ease of use for a large aperture. This is not a tradeoff we recommend for everyone, but this scope offers some gorgeous views. It is relatively stable, but also more complicated, with more parts than many of the telescopes we tested. You’ll want to be familiar with all of its parts, so you don’t turn the wrong nob while using it. Its many parts compensate for a more complicated assembly, but once it’s assembled, it provides a brilliant, wide view of the night sky. You may find stars you didn’t know were there.