It all started about Thanksgiving of 2020, when my wife suggested we get a telescope for each other for Christmas. I've always been enamored with space but for some reason getting a scope never crossed my mind, and besides, I already have/had several expensive hobbies to deal with. But since she opened the door..... So the search was on for what scope to get. I watched what seemed like 100's of You Tube videos and spent a lot of time reading reviews on the internet. For the most part, a 6" to 10" Dob was the most recommended. I had the opportunity to borrow a coworkers 6" Schmitt-Newtonian (GEM) for a week and got it out every night. We liked what we saw when we weren't fighting the GEM, lol. We decided to go for either an 8" or 10", but there literally wasn't anything in stock to be had. I finally found an 8" Dob about 200 miles from me. The lady had just purchased it that spring but, unfortunately, health issues forced her to part with it. It looked like it had never been used and we were the happy new owners. So the journey began....
• I had a very difficult time coordinating what I saw in the finder scope to what I saw on star charts and in the EP. Too much backwards, upside-down overload going on. The charts reminded me of a target at a Turkey Shoot. Got nowhere with this. Bought the book "Turn Left at Orion", and it didn't help at all, I guess I just didn't mesh with it.
• Installed a Telrad and acquired star charts that were Telrad-friendly. This was a lot better, but the lack of visible stars made it pretty difficult except for a very limited part of the sky.
• Determined not to give up, I found a couple threads here on CN about using an azimuth circle and digital inclinometer. After installing these aids, GAME CHANGER. Using SkySafari Plus, I can now easily find things, quickly, within the limits of my light pollution and reach of the scope. Now it's fun!
• Quickly learned how important a dark sky is. Dark sky trumps everything.
• This hobby helps with patience - nothing like searching deep into the blackness. Pure serenity.
• This hobby drives home just how immense the universe is. The James Webb telescope is going to blow the door wide open.
• I've got a lot to learn, but it's fun.
• There's a lot of banter on forums about perfect scopes, EP's, ect, but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is enjoying being under the stars and having a good time. This is a hobby, don't make it a chore.
• We are very lucky to have this forum (thank you Astronomics), it is an absolute treasure chest of knowledge, experience and a helpful membership. I know I have received a ton of good help!
• One gets a lot of satisfaction just finding something millions of miles away, it's worth it.
• Accept that this is for the long haul - no need to be in a hurry, there's so, so much to see.