> Given these two lessons, I'd appreciate a fair estimate of how much a
> newcomer in this hobby should set aside to get their first telescope
> rig. What is the ballpark cost to buy a telescope setup that will give
> a fair representation of the hobby of astronomy?
A lot of books on astronomy claim that one should start by learning the
constellations with the naked eye, or start with binoculars!
So the "conventional wisdom" is that you have asked the wrong question.
But ignoring the conventional wisdom, it's still a difficult question.
What do you want to see in the sky? Is it the planets, or is it
galaxies and nebulae? That makes a big difference in the kind of
telescope you would use.
Also, the cost of a telescope doesn't just depend on what you can see
with it. $1,000 can buy you a telescope that will be on the high end of
amateur telescopes in aperture - but which will be bulky and
inconvenient and awkward. Portability and convenience make telescopes
Owning a home in the country - or at least a car, to drive to where
there is dark sky - is what you *really* need to see exciting things in
the sky as an amateur astronomer. The telescope is almost an