For most folks that's a good question. Do I spend a Gazillion dollars or do I spend next to nothing and be sorely disappointed not to mention frustrated that I can't see all those awesome things we see in all those astronomy magazines and posters.Well here is a hint my friends: Do your homework!The real question is do I need to have a Telescope to be an observer of the night sky ? No you do not! When I was a kid growing up, anytime there was an opportunity to be on the business end of a telescope I was there. Be it at a family get together the local observatory, Dad's binoculars, I seem to be the first on the scope and the last off of it every time. I was too young to know I was bit by the astronomy bug and bit bad. I must admit I did pretty good for a mighty poor kid growing up in the south. Now what to glean from all of that? Find an astronomical society near you take a peak in their scopes. You would be amazed at how helpful those folks can be. They can help guide you toward a solution for your astronomy needs. It will suprise you just how many very fine objects you can see with a regular old run of the mill set of Binoculars. Can you see the four main moons of Jupiter? Why yes you can! To tell the truth, some items just look better in binoculars. I can spend hours with a pair and cruise the southern skies of Summer with all those rich star fields around Sagittarius and Scorpius. two things in particular that just really jump out at you are the Bee Hive cluster and the Pleiades. Both are awesome and well worth a look.You might notice here I might be kind of pushing you a bit in the way of Binoculars . For a vast number of people that is the way to go. Being, relatively inexpensive the wide views will help you to be comfortable learning the sky.But Out there my friends we have folks known as Race car Astronomers. Pedal to the metal Bigger Better Cost is no option. For those folks I say Whoa!!! lets rein it in a bit. The last thing anyone needs is a giant or pricey scope they have absolutely no idea how to use. It will most likely be an exercise in frustration and will eventually lead one to park that spawn of hell in the closet never to be heard from again until the wife decides to pitch junk out. That was when I discovered her junk and my junk we're not always the same! (That story is for another day but it does involve a Televue Ranger). For those folks that need to learn the sky and see some cool stuff along the way I say the Dobsonian is your friend. A "Dob" is simply a Newtonian Reflector that sits on a simple mount ( it spins on its base and the scope tilts up or down) so you can pretty much take a look at most anything you want. Get your self a nice star map and you're set or better yet, find a buddy that knows the sky. He can teach you how to adjust the scope so it is in good alignment (collimation). Relax it is not rocket surgery. Once you get it down it will be second nature to you. But that might be a drawback to some. For you folks a Refractor might be your ticket A short tube type would be the one to get. You can then use it as a guide scope down the road. This scope is such a treat on a go to Mount and not a whole lot of green backs to boot. A go to mount is a computerized mount that has a database of thousands of things to look at. Some have tours of the sky etc. Pretty cool huh? You will still need to learn the sky so look at the map decide what you are going to look at in say one or two constellations and write them down in a list and that evening punch em in the hand controller and take a look!By working a couple Constalations at a time you will get cozy with the night sky rather quickly. So in closing, the most important thing to remember is to not be over matched by cost or technology. Oh one more thing. Have fun. I know when I am on my Scope you can not get the grin off my face!
Good Seeing to all ,