FAQs - Equipment Purchase

The Orion 4.5” StarBlast Reflector is generally used in the Library Telescope Program. It is a relatively low cost, sturdy, high quality beginners telescope that, with the modifications, even more robust, easy to use and transport.
In general, the modifications are made to make it easy to use the Library Telescope and difficult to lose or break parts. There is some variety in the modifications across libraries. Generally, modifications are as follows: The stock eyepieces are replaced by a zoom lens, giving a broader range of magnification and eliminating the need to switch eyepieces. Various pieces are glued into place or secured with non-standard screw heads. Some screws are covered so they can’t be turned. A battery pack is installed on the finder scope to allow the use of AA batteries instead of the usual button batteries, The AA batteries last longer and are easier to replace. The zoom lens cap and the tube cover are attached to the telescope frame with string or wire. Several decals are attached to the tube providing information about magnification, warning to not look at the Sun, and a Moon map. Magnification Chart:  Download magnification chart Do not look at Sun decal:  Download Sun Decal Moon Map:  Download Moon Map A hole is cut in the tube cover and a removable insert is added. Removing just the insert can serve as a Moon filter, reducing the light from a bright Full Moon without using an additional filter.
Costs have been rising but the Orion 4.5” StarBlast Reflector generally costs around $200 and the Celestron 8 – 24mm Zoom Eyepiece generally costs around $75. Additional accessories vary but generally cost around $100 in total consisting of a spiral bound, laminated instruction manual, a National Audubon Society Constellation pocket guide, a red-light headband and a belt bag attached to the telescope to carry them in.  An overall cost estimate is under $400 but many Library Telescopes are donated each year to libraries through astronomy clubs, the Astronomical League (www.astroleague.org) and the Horkheimer Charitable Foundation (www.astroleague.org/content/library-telescope-program)
In addition to the basic Orion 4.5” StarBlast kit, many libraries also offer a beginner’s astronomy book, a Moon map, a plastic planisphere, binoculars and other helpful things.
Although sturdy, the Orion 4.5” StarBlast Reflector is a precision instrument that can be damaged if mishandled. Some Library Telescopes are still in use after 12 years with reasonable maintenance. There have been rare incidences where telescopes have been damaged but repairs are usually fairly easy. Overall, a 10 year expected life for a Library Telescope is reasonable, but an extended life should not be surprising.