You assessment on expenditure vs. experience is even more
applicable to amateur astronomy than it is to many other
You will get many answers to your question, and a lot of "it
depends" sort of answers...such as, it depends on what sorts
of astronomical objects you wish to see, how comfortable you
want to be while you view them, whether or not you want your
system to be transportable, whether or not you care about
resale value, and whether or not you are interested in
astronomical imaging, which, in my humble opinion,
can be classed as a separate hobby from visual astronomy.
Take a look at two recent previous threads in this newsgroup,
one called "Get Me Started (again)", and all of the recent
postings by Zarkovic, which nicely document the acquisition
of a lower-end but quite adequate new telescope.
All that said, a reasonable amount of money to see what
comfortable visual astronomy is all about is about $3000.
Double this amount for imaging. You will (and should)
hear a lot of commentary on these pulled-out-of-the-air
Since yours was basically a financial question, something to
be aware of is that higher-end astronomical equipment holds
its value, and lower-end equipment does not. It may seem
a stretch to put $6000 into a single optical tube assembly,
but when your interests change, and you would like a
different piece of equipment (or a new boat :-), you
will be glad that you can sell that Takahashi OTA for
75% of your purchase price. All that in addition, of course,
to having experienced some of the finest views of the
heavens that money can buy.