My goal in this instructable is to provide a set of resources for anyone interested in getting started with this hobby, in the form of a step by step guide for someone who just isn't sure where to begin. When I got started a few years ago, I couldn't find any guides like this that really made sense to me, so in a way this is written to my past self. If I had this guide, I could have avoided a lot of trouble, pitfalls, useless purchases, and dead ends. Furthermore, I've been interested in astronomy since I was little, but I always assumed it was an expensive hobby that I couldn't afford to get into--I was wrong, and I wish someone had been there to tell me!
If you can think of anything I should add to this guide, make sure to leave a comment below--if I use your suggestion, I'll send you a DIY patch. If I think it's a big enough suggestion or oversight on my part, I'll also send you a coupon for a three month pro membership. Also, as I live in the northern hemisphere and only see the northern sky, if you're reading this from a southern hemisphere perspective, I encourage you to write a supplementary southern hemisphere version of this instructable. If it's up to my standards (as determined solely by me and my whims) I will link to it here and send you a coupon for a one year pro membership! I envy you, too, I'll probably never get to see the Magellanic Clouds.
Finally, please lend me your vote in the Space Contest. If you found this useful or interesting, cast a vote my way!