I wish I could have started when I was a kid! I had a Bushnell Voyager (the astroscan knockoff) resting in the shed for my whole life (bought two years before I was born), never took it out because between my Dad's poor eyesight and my Mom not having poor eyesight and seeing things out of focus, they thought it was broken. I have always loved astronomy, but only as a field of study and knowledge, not until I was 17 did I start to really enjoy it as a hobby. I still remember the disappointment I felt when the lunar eclipse I stayed up late to view in 1st or 2nd grade turned out to be nowhere near as bright red as all the pictures on the internet and news sites suggested they'd be. Having been better prepared for what it would have looked like might have saved it for me (and I had a blast during the January 2019 lunar eclipse)
I only ever had a passing interest in naked-eye astronomy. I could recognize the moon, the three stars of Orion's belt, and eventually by 2016 or so I could point out the planets. It wasn't until the semester before I took a college astronomy class in high school that I started to really be interested in astronomy. (At that point I had been redirected by the game Kerbal Space Program into the spaceflight & rocketry fandom, and only just getting into planetary science and astronomy again through my early work on planetary system mods for the game)
If I'd been into observational astronomy earlier, I might not have missed the only opportunity I ever had to see a Venus transit.
As it is, I started really getting into astronomy when I started volunteering at my college's Cline Observatory, pushing 8" dobs around.
If I could do it again from scratch I'd make one major change: while everyone's asleep on Christmas Eve 2008, just after Santa Claus has left, I would go retrieve the Bushnell Voyager from its storage space at my first house, and put it,a copy of Turn Left At Orion, and a card showing what, when, and where the Cline Observatory is, under the tree. Or uh... maybe box it up and put it outside where it will be slightly less inexplicable. Time travel is messy if people figure it out.
If I could take it from the top, around 2016, I'd have not gotten an AstroMaster 114EQ as an upgrade for the Bushnell Voyager 4.5. If it weren't for the cline observatory that scope might've killed my interest in the hobby. It gave fine views for what it was, but the undersized EQ-1 mount gave me hell and I didn't understand how an equatorial mount worked until much later. That scope was a surprise gift from my Mom, as I never expected to get a new telescope. Instead I'd have gone straight for the 6" Dobsonian I ended up getting this year after the observatory closed for the pandemic. I'd also have not waited over a year before joining my school's astronomy club, and I'd have started volunteering at the Cline Observatory earlier.
I don't really have any severe regrets over how it's turned out so far, though. Probably my only real regret is having missed the Venus transits of my lifetime, but restructuring my life to include an interest in observational astronomy from so young would have untold effects on my life. And having got the AstroMaster 114EQ has if anything made me more sympathetic to beginners who have had such poor performers. For its part, I sold it for cheap this year.
EDIT: How could I forget? I'd also have kept logs from the beginning, and put more effort into the logs I made while taking the observational astronomy class in 2017 which qualified me to be an observatory host. I went through those logs, and while they were useful and nostalgic, I kept thinking, man, these are way worse than the logs I'm keeping now. And I wouldn't have stopped taking logs after finishing the class, creating a three year gap in my astronomy records.
Edited by Gregrox, 31 October 2020 - 08:06 PM.