Telescopes come in an overwhelming variety of sizes, shapes, and prices. To make sense of this embarrassment of riches, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions.How much are you willing to spend? How portable does your telescope need to be? Do you plan to do astrophotography? And what do you hope for and expect from astronomy?
If you shop really carefully, you can buy a good telescope for $100. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend a telescope costing $2,000 or more to a beginner who is really committed and knows exactly what he or she wants.
For a quick overview of what telescopes are all about, see our article Choosing Your First Telescope.
For a more comprehensive discussion of astronomical equipment, you can download the article What to Know before You Buy from the 2010 issue of SkyWatch, our annual magazine.