Im as new as it gets to owning a telescope (10" dob) , I have always been interested in looking up, Im in my late forties with two teen age children, not a lot of extra money for a hobby, I say this to create the scene.
I went to one outreach night and then to another and saw that 1: is not un-affordable rich only hobby, 2; no experience does not equate to no fun, 3; learning the first 15 minutes is the hardest, then is fun research.
I would say if someone gave me a telescope before, I would have wanted some goto telescope (low end), but actually for beginners now I would say that a dob is more fun as there is basically no setup time.
collimation: what the heck does that mean?. Had I started before going to a star party I would had ruin the whole experience because my easy to use telescope is not ready to go out from the box. So, something easy right out of the box would help the first timer.
Hey i just got a telescope.. wheres the moon?: Any time someone is new the first thing you want to see is the moon.. ask around you'll see... I put my telescope out in the front yard with lots of street lighting and cars and house outside lights and still have a lot of fun and people walking by always want to see the moon.. "can you see the moon with that?!" yes, come look, then I point to Neptune and it's moons "WOW!!!" then the rings... those are awesome. This was just yesterday. A telescope that can see moon and planets to the beginner is probably best.
Something with a lens and filter kit would help. My 10" is just too much for moon viewing, I needed to add a blue cheap filter. before you say "of course don't" I din't know and everyone who walks by and looks doesn't know, that's beginners for you.
A good finder-scope: I confess I have sin: For really easy star pointing I added a laser , I did get that from a telescope internet store, and got in trouble for using said attachment at a star party, YES I know... but for street viewing and telling people what they are looking at I think is a great tool/toy to have. A decent finder-scope never comes with an affordable telescope.... A telescope and some accessories may be better than an awesome telescope for the beginner.
Star photography, who knew?. My wife got a picture with her cell phone at one of the outreach events from a telescope, and 8"er. That improved my budget by quite a bit, thank you person with camera attachment telescope, i owe you one. My telescope came with this thing to hang a cell phone to take a pictures.. Wher-s the moon? I want to take a picture!, Again beginners that just happen by, I ask them for their cell phone and put it on and snap a picture, is like giving a child ice cream, never fails to satisfy. So a tool to take pictures, cell of otherwise would be fun.
Getting a telescope as a gift for a beginner. I would say, set up time and and ease of use. Something to tinker with, like a camera attachment, good enough to see something exiting.
I think -just be cuz- said and 8" dob, I totally agree... plus a couple of accessories.
Now, where is the forum for a under $150 camera to use with a 10" dob?