There is pretty much everything you want to know in the early threads. very sound advice about good tripod, eyepiece and don't go for high magnification.I hope this thread proves useful to others as well. I'm a little out of my depth. I think I was really looking for something where once every few weeks I decide to have a peak at whatever, or if we have guests around offer them a view of the night sky.
I shall contemplate my next purchase very carefully but thinking of combining terrestrial observation with limited sky viewing, so maybe a good spotting scope is the answer.
If you want to do terrestrial as well, then maybe start with some good binoculars. An astronomical scope/reflector will give an inverted image.
From what you have described you probably should think about. A quality better quality, smaller and simpler system, as they get used the most, especially if you need to lug them around.
I think there are two big questions to consider.
1. Are you going to get quite proficient and learn to use skill and practice to find fainter objects or would you prefer to invest in some automation to help you find things easily.
2. Do you need to lug it about at all. Will it be use in the nearby back garden or will be carrying it or putting it in the car.
If you have the time to put into learning alignments and where the objects are, and you don't have to carry it far, then the larger 8'' 200mm dobson recommended earlier will give you a lot of light and be excellent for Saturn, Jupiter and Messier/nebluie etc.
BY THE WAY SEEING SATURN THROUGH AN 8'' IS BREATHTAKING. This summer/autumn Saturn and Jupiter have been in close alignment so you could hop from one to the other, kids are spellbound.
On the other hand
You can see a lot of detail with a smaller good quality scope with good eye piece, you will probably need a couple, a wide angle and one with a bit of magnification. 6'' 150mm reflector is probably a good starter.
If you are an occasional user like me and I want to keep the kids interested, I'd spend a bit more on getting something that helps with star alignment.
( I would have recommend something like the Nextstar 6se, but I've just looked at the prices and they have doubled in the past eight years, so that is now an expensive option at £900, it was only £450 a few years ago and would have given you superb quality, ease of use and portability. I imagine Covid and Brexit have played havoc with supplies.)
Another way to help with star aligment is to have a couple of finders, a simple non magnified system for rough aligment and then a finder scope with good optics - could be an old pair of bins attaced to the side or a starter scope I used this one attached to the side of the Nexsta. Its also a remarkably good scope for the price - again they used to go for £50, now retailing at £90!! -
https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001TI9Y2M/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_1285150262?_encoding=UTF8&ascsubtag=ecSEP13pl8ttkuzmilgb&ie=UTF8&linkCode=osi&tag=track-ec-uk-348124-21&th=1Also have a good way of setting up and star align, so a good finder scope and either an automatic or easy to adjust tripod. You don't want to spend ages aligning things if you have friends or kids round.
The local club idea is a good one.
If you can get to a local club, they advertise star night on the net, you may find a member wanting to sell/give away good kit. I have a very keen friend who has put on permanent loan to our school his big dobsian as he is really into photography these day. You may find someone willing to lend you one of their old scopes to help you get going. I borrowed a top quality William to do a sun spot projects with one of our boys for several weeks one summer.
Although we have access to an 8.5'' mirror I ground by hand bought from fullersopes as a school kid in the 1970s and put it on 2"gas pipes set into the ground with solid bearing from an old car axel, its far to cumbersome for our family and little used and stays with the kids grandparents good optics and cost £50 to make, but too cumbersome to be really useful.
We find the more expensive Nexstar and the 70mm little scope is used the most.