I have a somewhat serious refracting telescope—one that comes with a mount so heavy I have to pay neighborhood kids ten bucks to haul it out front for me. Refractors are good for looking at planets, but not so good for the pocketbook.
I prefer looking at planets. You can tell one in the sky because it doesn’t twinkle. However small, what you see up there is a disc, a shaft of light. One that comes through the atmosphere relatively undisturbed. But the nearest star is more than 7,000 times farther away than even distant Pluto; which is far, far away. Others are 7,000 times farther still. Or 700, 000,000. So no matter how big and bright, or powerfully magnified, even the closest stars are just points of light that twinkle. Stars all look alike to me, just different colors.
Our nearby planets and their large satellites, however, are places. Places we can go if we want to. Places that may have evolved at least some form of primitive biology—which would provide an immeasurable insight into our own. Places that might harbor stores of water ice—providing oxygen to breathe, and fuel to travel even farther beyond. To be sure, you can’t fly there quite yet, but you can still visit these places, with even a good set of binoculars, as they put on their celestial Broadway show every night of the year.