I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction for a beginner-friendly telescope for my family.
My husband has mentioned wanting a telescope off and on for a few years, but he's never delved into the idea enough to give specifics. We have an autistic 7-year-old who has developed a Special Interest in astronomy, and since it's our practice to delve into his SI's with him, it seems like a good time to take the plunge.
We live in a major metropolitan area -- in the suburbs about 30-45 minutes from downtown Chicago. We will be able to drive to a less light-polluted area from time to time, but realistically, we'll be seeing what we can see from the yard or second-story balcony most of the time.
7yo will likely be most interested in objects seen with some degree of detail -- planets, stars, comets, our moon, other brighter objects. We adults would like to glimpse some of the dimmer objects as well, though we know they'll be faint. 7yo will likely be impressed by glimpsing those objects, as well, since he's a bit obsessed with the vastness of the universe at the moment.
We are true beginners. Think of people who have never touched a scope. But we're patient and smart, so we can learn. Which is kind of the point, I suppose.
7yo is not always patient, so an easy, quick set-up would be desirable.
No children will be using the scope unsupervised, but we will be teaching 7yo how to use it while closely supervised.
If giving specific recommendations, we'd like to keep the cost under $500US.